In the State Senate District 5 race, incumbent Republican Dr. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown will face off against Meg Walsh, a Democrat from Round Rock.
Senate District 5 encompasses all of Madison County, as well as Walker, Grimes, Robertson, Milam, Limestone, Williamson and Freestone counties.
Early voting continues until Friday, and the election will be Tuesday.
Schwertner declined to be interviewed for this story.
A life that was a challenge pushed Meg Walsh toward a life of service.
Walsh said she is single mom, and at times, she worked two jobs to support herself and her daughter.
“That led to a life of service, starting at my daughter’s school as a volunteer,” she said. “That led me to be a volunteer helping hundreds of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in Williamson County, winning Volunteer of the Year award in 2008.”
Walsh said she also was a volunteered in the Taylor school district.
Along with a life of volunteerism and service, Walsh said she has led a life of competency as well.
“I had a 30-year career in finance, including contract and project management and procurement, in various industries such as energy, oil and gas, retail and IT technology,” she said. “Currently, I have my own company, Meg Walsh Consulting, and I have a client that is a large software company, which over the years has acquired 11 different companies, and I help them with multimillion-dollar worldwide agreements.”
All that experience led to the next step in a trajectory of service and contributing to society, Walsh said.
“My career has given me the abilities to be an excellent state senator,” she said. “Having had a life of service, it’s really the next step. Talking with people on the campaign trail has energized me in this quest to be of service.”
To be of the most service, Walsh will focus on three things: education, health care, and water.
“My top priority is school funding, and to make sure in rural counties that when schools are being graded, it’s done fairly,” she said. “Current testing does not take into account the economy of scale; one person not graduating can foul up school funding.”
To accomplish her first goal, Walsh said she plans to fight for educational funding.
“In 2011, (funding) was set at 45 percent per student, which has now been dropped to 38 percent,” she said. “What most people don’t know is from that 38 percent, 7 percent is set aside for charter schools or goes into the general revenue fund. The fact that the state is not paying its fair share is that districts have to make up the shortfall by raising property taxes.”
Walsh said that the state needs to ensure that teachers are paid competitive wages, and reinstates the funding for retired teachers insurance.
“I’ve talked with retired teachers who have said they’re either not able to pay the monthly insurance premiums and have had to drop the insurance, or are paying the premiums but are unable to pay for medicine or get medical care because they have to pay a light bill or buy food,” she said.
The second goal is facing the huge challenge in rural counties with access to medical care, Walsh said.
“Texas is currently not accepting $9 billion in Medicaid/ACA expansion, and that’s an issue in rural counties because of the distance they have to drive to see a doctor or have an emergency room visit,” she said. “There’s 1.5 million Texans who are uninsured for medical care, so we need to bring that money in so we can help rural counties.”
The third focus of Walsh’s campaign is water.
“There’s a number of things going on in the world with water,” she said. “Texas is in a hyper growth mode, and you have all these people moving into Texas, and the current state water plan is not accurate. It mentions reservoirs that are not yet filled, so you’re looking at a 30-year period to get that completed. You have 130 cities that do not have drinkable water or are constantly getting fined by TCEQ for the fact that their water infrastructure is failing.”
Walsh also said that high-speed internet access and help for small farmers are important issues facing counties like Madison.
“I think we need to ensure that we’re taking care of the rural counties like Madison,” she said.
“The most important thing for me as a senator is hearing what is most important to residents,” Walsh said. “I’m here to be a voice for the people, especially those in rural counties.”