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In this series, Texas Tech Public Media sits down with candidates across the board to discuss issues facing their constituents.

Conversations with Candidates: Cheryl Little for House District 84

Cheryl Little - House District 84
Cheryl Little

House District 84 covers much of Lubbock County at the state legislature and will have a new representative following this year's election. For our “Conversations with Candidates” series, we invited the four Republicans vying for the seat to our studio to ask questions constituents care about. Cheryl Little is one of the candidates on the ballot.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Introduce yourself. Tell us more about you.

Cheryl Little: Well, I came from New Mexico. I escaped two years ago, and have been in Lubbock ever since. I've lived in Texas for many years. My husband was previous military, and so we've been in Lubbock. Also, I'm a landowner in Texas, and that goes way back to my great great, great grandparents who homesteaded in Texas. And so very familiar with Texas, love it and just feel at home here. I graduated from Wayland Baptist University with a master's degree in public administration. My areas of focus were in public finance, and political ethics, and also in economics. I have two daughters and I've been married for 45 years and I've got three grandchildren. And I'm a very conservative Christian, Republican.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Very interesting. I think this question will tell our listeners a lot. Tell us about a politician, past or present, that you look up to,

Cheryl Little: Ronald Reagan would probably be my choice. I've always appreciated very strong military men, and with my husband having been military, I look to that. Especially in today's times with everything that we've got going on. So he would definitely be one of the top ones.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Why are you running for House District 84?  

Cheryl Little: I decided and made the decision when we had Democrats who left the session and went to Washington, D.C. And it really made me very aggravated that they would go off and do that. At that time, I made the decision. You know, I'm qualified, and I need to get involved, and that was a turning point for me when I made up my mind.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: That's a good segue into the next question, What experience do you have with Texas statewide politics? And did you follow the most recent legislative session?

Cheryl Little: I've been following the legislative session. I have been staying up on it. I get up every morning and I start my day watching the federal news – I watch the daily White House briefing and then I watch all of the daily congressional hearings. Then I go into Texas and I start looking and I'm watching to see what bills are passing and what's going on. It's so hard to keep up with everything that's going on. It's amazing. Just last year, in the session, they had 666 bills that passed and trying to keep up with everything is very difficult. So I tried but it's impossible to know everything about everything.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: I understand that from our perspective of covering the session, it's a lot to keep up with. So you're running for a position that's been held by a well-respected Republican for a decade. As a fellow member of that political party, how would you be different?

Cheryl Little: I like a lot of the work that John Frullo has done. I was actually a forensic interviewer, and I know he’s severely worked on the child sexual laws, and I want to continue working with that. I know that's not different from what he's doing, but I want to follow in that same area, because that's an area that's so important to me. One of the things I think that will probably be a little bit different about me is, I tend to be a little more vocal than he is. I guess it's that Mama Bear type of situation that comes out of me. I can get a little vocal sometimes, and I don't know that that's necessarily a bad thing. I'm alsoa New Mexico Supreme Court trained mediator. So, I also know when to back off and let others do the talking and negotiating. So, I guess in that way, I can kind of be a voice, but I can also back off when needed

Sarah Self-Walbrick: To switch gears a little bit into some specific issues, if elected, what legislation would you prioritize?

Cheryl Little: My biggest area of concern is in public schools. That is the area that I really think that we need to focus on. Our children have lost so much in the last couple of years. And I know it's going to take a lot of money to get them back where they need to be. Matter of fact, I have gone over the budget for 2022 and 2023 – volumes one and two – looking page by page, everything through there, and I have a lot of questions about the budget that they proposed. So that's probably the biggest area that I'm concerned about at the moment.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: I want to touch on a couple of other key issues area voters will likely consider as they choose who to vote for. Let's go to the Permanent University Fund (PUF). To put it simply, that takes money largely generated in our part of the state and gives it to the University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems–but only those two schools. Would you like to see that change? And if the answer is yes, how would you propose doing that?

Cheryl Little: I would like to see that change. We have an amazing university here that deserves that funding as well, especially since money is coming from this area. I've gone through and I've been pulling as much information as I can on it. I've got binders of information. But I haven't been able to tell, is it written as a law? Is it just a contract and agreement? So, I'm not really sure. Does it need to start with an attorney? Does it go to the Attorney General? Does it go to the legislature? I'm not really sure at this point. I'm still researching it. But yes, I do want to see that money come to Lubbock.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Understood. The PUF is actually part of the Texas State Constitution, which is a whole process, in and of itself, to make any changes. That's something that would have to go to a public, Texan, constituent vote. So it is, again, a lot of layers of different processes for state politics. And you touched a little bit on public education already, but those issues have dominated statewide news lately. What are your priorities with public education?

Cheryl Little: I'm definitely getting our schools built back to where they should be and I want our kids to be able to be children again. I don't want them to have to worry about adult issues. I think in the last two years, they have just had to be little adults, and have all of our problems put on them and imposed on them. I want to see them be able to actually just go and enjoy school, enjoy their friends and be themselves. I know a lot of our schools, we need to update and put some money into them and get them up to where they need to be. I know that we have to look at school classroom sizes. We have to look at the teachers that we've got and how many more do we need to add to get where we need to be. I mean, there are just so many critical things going on. I know that there's a lot of issues in the funding, like I was talking about earlier. One of the things I was amazed at in Texas, is some of the schools have never gotten paid from Hurricane Harvey. I want to know why that is and what's going to happen with that. I know it doesn't necessarily affect us here, but it still is a concern because where’s that money gonna eventually come from. It's going to come from our district or, you know how, how is the money going to be spread out across Texas.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Lubbock largely avoided the effect of ERCOT’s power failure last year, but has since joined that electric grid. A lot of area voters are worried about that and have concerns. What changes would you like to see with the state's electric system?

Cheryl Little: You know, that's a really tough question. Because of that, we were very fortunate that we didn't have a lot of problems. So you know, that's one of the issues I wish I knew more than what I do know about. I'm afraid it's one of those things that we're going to have to kind of wait and see how it goes, and then try to make improvements as we go along. I really wish I had more information on that than what I do, but some of my other areas of focus have taken away from that particular area.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Since there are no Democratic challengers in this race, the upcoming primary election is really important. For our final question, why should voters cast a ballot for you?

Cheryl Little: One of the things different about me from the other three running – which our core values are pretty much the same – but one of the biggest differences I feel is I'm a researcher. Whenever I'm looking at something, I want to know data. I want information on how was the information derived. I want to know what statistics are used. I want to know the equations that were used. I want to know what a one year, five year, 10 year plan is going to look like, because when it comes to taxpayers money, I can be a little tight with it. So before I say let's approve something, I want all the information that there is to know about

Have a news tip? Email Sarah Self-Walbrick at saselfwa@ttu.edu. Follow her reporting on Twitter @SarahFromTTUPM.

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Sarah Self-Walbrick is the news director at Texas Tech Public Media, where she leads the news team and focuses on underreported stories in Lubbock. Sarah is a Lubbock native and a three-time graduate of Texas Tech University. She started her career at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
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