Despite drawing a young Green Party opponent, State Rep. Phil King (R – Weatherford) won his eighth consecutive term in District 61, which serves Wise and Parker counties.
King, 56, was challenged by Matthew Britt, 21, of Decatur.
King received 16,721 or 88.2 percent and Britt received 2,236 or 11.8 percent of the votes in Wise County. Overall King garnered 55,620 to 6,947 or 88.9 percent to 11.1 percent.
“I’m very grateful I get to keep representing these two counties,” King said. “Especially since redistricting almost had me representing Hood County instead of Wise.”
King hopes the state legislature can address several areas of concern in public education during the upcoming term. He said he spent the last few weeks visiting superintendents at all 18 school districts in his legislative district.
“Local control of schools is very important,” King said. “A lot of autonomy has been taken by the state and federal government. We need to enhance local control of school districts.”
He also said the state has to find a more equitable way to fund districts.
“You have districts side-by-side where one is getting more per child than the other,” King said. “You have some districts receiving $1,000 more per child than others. This has got to change.”
The third major issue in schools was standardized testing.
“We’ve got to let schools choose their own testing method,” King said. “A lot of joy is being taken out of teaching by forcing them to teach to the STAAR system.”
King was hopeful these changes could be made.
“There is a growing tide,” he said. “I’m very encouraged this time.”
Despite the defeat, Britt was encouraged by the support he received and all he learned during the process.
“I learned that Wise County is a lot more diverse than it seems on the surface,” Britt said. “It’s been fun. I’ve made a lot of new friends.”
Britt said running as a third party candidate is always difficult, especially during a general election with a lot of straight-party voters.
“I’ll definitely run again,” Britt said. “I just don’t know where and for what.
“I just need to get to know more people. I went into this election practically fresh out of high school. I know more people that are under the voting age than are of voting age.
“I’m going to keep the same platform. People were receptive to it. Maybe refine it some. I’m going to stay active, keep learning. I’m going to make sure Phil King still knows I’m here.”
King has served as state representative for District 61 since 1998.