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White, Hays dominates the disgrace that is Miller

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Texas voters have the opportunity to end Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s shameful term. Whether it happens in the GOP primary or the general election, our state would be for the best.

First elected to the position in 2014, Miller is seeking a third term as head of the state agency that regulates weights and measures, supports the agricultural industry, implements federal school lunch programs and stimulates the economic development of rural Texas.

The agency does this despite Miller, who has failed as a public servant in almost every way possible. Republican primary voters should ask themselves, what is conservative about Sid Miller?

To consider:

In January, Miller’s campaign spokesman and political consultant, Todd M. Smith, was charged with theft and bribery. Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but voters should reasonably expect that key aides to elected officials will not be charged.

Prior to that, Miller unnecessarily raised fees to bloat his department, straining farmers and ranchers.

He used taxpayer money to attend a rodeo in Mississippi and travel to Oklahoma for a so-called “Jesus Shot” to treat chronic pain. He reimbursed taxpayers after the trips attracted media attention.

Remember how he briefly appointed Smith’s wife to a $180,000-a-year job or spent hundreds of thousands on staff bonuses.

Then there were his ideas of putting fryers back in school kitchens and using the blood thinner warfarin to kill feral hogs.

We could go on, but Miller’s record speaks for itself.

Fortunately, Republican voters have strong conservative options.

In the Republican primary, we recommend the state Rep. Jacques White.

An Army veteran and Texas native, White is a six-term state representative for District 19, an area north of Beaumont.

The lifelong curator taught government and economics at the high school and college levels. He also owns a beef cattle operation.

White served on the Texas House Committee on Agriculture and would provide much-needed ethical and thoughtful leadership to the Texas Department of Agriculture. His initial vision for the office is to reduce excessive fees, encourage and empower agency staff to maintain high ethics and transparency, review all regulations, and improve school meals.

Carey Counsil, businessman, rancher and professor of economics, is also in the running. Counsil, an Air Force veteran, is not a career politician, but he served on the board of the Brenham Independent School District.

White and Counsil are both engaging and knowledgeable about the issues. And both are better options than Miller – much better.

Susan Hays, the Democratic candidate for Texas agriculture commissioner, has shown leadership in hemp cultivation and would provide much-needed responsibility for the agency.

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For the Democratic ticket, we recommend a lawyer Susan Hays.

Originally from Texas, she is an attorney with experience in reproductive and voting rights. More recently, she has focused on cannabis policy and worked as a lobbyist. Hays operates a small hemp and hop farm south of Alpine.

She helped draft and pass the Hemp Bill of 2019 which legalized the cultivation of hemp and cannabinoid products derived from hemp.

She said Miller’s ethical issues prompted her to run.

Her first order of business, she said, would be to mend the Texas Department of Agriculture’s relationship with the legislature. She is also looking to do “housekeeping,” including forensic accounting to review the ministry’s finances.

Also in the primary is Ed Ireson, a businessman whose family has raised cattle in Brazos County for generations. It focuses on improving rural school meals and internet access, and promoting opportunities in the agricultural industry.

Both Hays and Ireson have interesting ideas for improving school meals and the agricultural supply chain.

After years of controversy and ethical issues at the state Department of Agriculture, Texans should reward themselves with a fresh start.

We recommended White and Hays, but all four candidates are superior to Miller.