Republican candidates emphasize unique backgrounds, conservative credentials in Texas House District 97 debate

dfwnewsa | February 8, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Republican candidates emphasize unique backgrounds, conservative credentials in Texas House District 97 debate

Candidates for Texas House District 97 speak at a Feb. 7 candidate forum. (Camilo Diaz | Fort Worth Report)
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Ahead of a contentious 2024 general election, Republican candidates vying for a place on the November ballot for local, state and national offices pitched their visions for Tarrant County’s future.

The Fort Worth Report, alongside fellow nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations KERA, SteerFW and the League of Women Voters, hosted the first of two candidate debates Feb. 7 at Texas Wesleyan University. Republican primary candidates for U.S. House District 12, Texas House District 97, and Tarrant County tax-assessor collector sought to draw a distinction between themselves and their primary opponents.


The March 5 primary election will determine which Republican and Democratic candidates face each other come November. Texas primaries are open, which means residents may vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary in March, and vote for either the Republican or Democratic candidate in November, regardless of which primary they participated in.

The Fort Worth Report will have another forum at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 8. The debates will feature Democratic candidates running for the U.S. House District 12, Texas House District 97 and Tarrant County Commissioner Precinct 1.

Texas House District 97

The District 97 seat opened up after current representative Craig Goldman threw his hat in the ring to replace Kay Granger. Three Republicans — Cheryl Bean, John McQueeney and Leslie Robnett — are competing to replace him. 

All three candidates acknowledged they have similar platforms in regard to securing the southern border, expanding school choice and helping businesses grow. The difference, they argued, is in their respective backgrounds. 

Bean, who serves on the school board for the Texas Center for Arts + Academics, emphasized her longstanding commitment to the area. She’s lived in the district for 60 years, she said, and has been involved as an employee, business owner and Republican precinct chair. 


“I worked for Lockheed for many, many years, and in doing so, most of their employees live in this district so I kind of know what’s going on there,” she said. “Furthermore, my building company is in Benbrook, but it covers and has done houses and work in every aspect and every corner of this district so I know the people in this district.” 

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McQueeney, a fast-food franchise owner, highlighted his experience in the business community. He learned how to run a restaurant from the ground up, he said, and he’ll take the same approach in representing the district.

“I think getting behind the counter for the district and understanding the issues with our constituents means getting on the road,” he said. “I’m out in front of our constituents, I’m knocking on doors. I’m spending time in all four of those communities: west Fort Worth, White Settlement, Crowley, Benbrook.” 

Robnett, a Texas attorney who represents businesses, highlighted her experience working in the office of now state Sen. Phil King when he served as a House representative, as well as her legal experience. She said her upbringing lends her a unique perspective; growing up with divorced parents, she spent time in both Fort Worth and Palo Pinto County.

“And being from a rural area as well as a metropolitan area, I can tell you that I know how to represent Crowley all the way to White Settlement all the way to west Fort Worth,” she said. “And the secret is, you answer the phone for every constituent in the district and you go deliver the results that they want at the Capitol.”

Missed the candidate forum? Here’s where to watch the recording

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The forums were open to the public and livestreamed on the Fort Worth Report’s YouTube channel.To watch the forum, click here.

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