By Michael Brown, The Belton Journal
Dr. Dawn Buckingham has announced her bid for Texas State Senate, District 24. Buckingham, an Austin Lakeway resident, is running for the State Senate seat currently held by Troy Fraser, R-Horseshore Bay, since 1997, and who announced earlier this year that he will not run for re-election.
For Buckingham, three things are of utmost importance to her race: the Texas border, education and smaller government.
“When I look at the world our kids are inheriting, I’m a little worried about their futures. That ties in to a lot of what I’ve heard here [in Belton],” Buckingham said. “We want to secure our border. We want to be sure our towns are safe and economically prosperous. We want parents to be empowered in their children’s education. Families should feel protected, in the traditional sense. We want to decrease the footprint of government. I joke that I want to put government on a diet. Decrease taxes by finding efficiencies. Let people keep more of the money they earn.”
Buckingham is currently an oculoplastic and reconstructive surgeon in Austin.
“As a physician, I’m clearly drawn to a life of service,” Buckingham said. “People come to me with their problems every day, and I help them. They come to me sometimes not being able to see. Maybe we can help some of our politicians see as well. I truly believe in being a servant leader.”
Before announcing her candidacy, Buckingham resigned from the Lake Travis ISD school board, to which she was elected in 2014. Along with being the mother of two children, her experience with the school board spurred her desire to “big on education” during her campaign.
“I believe in empowering parents in their children’s education. I don’t think students should be sent to failing schools, but I also don’t think schools should have to compete in the market with both hands tied behind their back,” Buckingham said. “A lot of our public schools are doing a good job. But, when I look at the unfunded mandates, and the bureaucracy they have to function in, it’s very difficult to educate kids. This is something I plan to work on.”
When asked about state funding and the recent court challenge by about 600 school districts across Texas, Buckingham responded that the issues are complex and need to be explained better to the public. But whatever the solution, she believes “the kids have to come first.”
Major issues from the 2015 Legislative Session include passage of Open Carry legislation, attempts to limit the effects of illegal immigration and a failure to reform the Hazelwood Act.
When asked for a reaction to those issues, Buckingham responded, “I’m a fan of open-carry. As a female, it’s hard to conceal a gun in my clothes. One of things the new law will stop is someone being ticketed for inadvertently revealing a weapon.”
Regarding illegal immigration, Buckingham said, “It’s hard to have a discussion about anything else until we seal the border,” she said. “We need to stop the lures that bring people here, like the Sanctuary Cities.”
When asked what cities in Texas were Sanctuary Cities, Buckingham named Austin, but seemed unsure about any others. An Internet review shows that possibly as many as 14 Texas cities and towns are currently designated as Sanctuary Cities. In the past legislative session, a bill sponsored by State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) to ban such cities altogether died from lack of support.
Buckingham was less informed about the Hazelwood Act, which waves tuition at state colleges for members of the military and their families. A recent court ruling has made it possible for veterans from other states to come to Texas for a state-supported education. Buckingham said, “That is something I’ll have to find out more about.” Buckingham said that while she actively supports our military and their families, she feels fiscal responsibility is important as well.
A self-described “dedicated Conservative and Christian,” Buckingham declared, “I go to a bible-based, Evangelical church. I’m a traditional family-value kind of girl. I stand up for life, and I put my faith first.”
Buckingham is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. In addition, she is a seventh-generation, direct descendant of Brit Bailey, one of the original land-grant settlers of Texas. Her family, she said, is “deeply invested” in the state.
The first declared candidate for District 24, Buckingham said she has already raised over $500,000, a large part of that coming from her family. She expects to eventually raise over $1 million for her campaign. Although she has no endorsements yet, she plans to announce several soon.