LUFKIN, Texas (KETK) – Longtime District 57 Representative Trent Ashby is running for re-election against Army Veteran Jason Rogers. This isn’t the first time two have faced off. In 2018, Ashby defeated Rogers with 79% of the vote, but Rogers says he is looking forward to another chance at the table.
The district is comprised of Angelina, Houston, Leon, Madison, San Augustine, and Trinity counties.
TRENT ASHBY (INCUMBENT)
Trent Ashby is no stranger to District 57. Sworn into the Texas House of Representative in January 2013, Ashby was born and raised on a dairy farm, and says that’s where he learned the meaning of hard work.
“Going on 8 years, as the Representative for this area, I spend time in all of my 6 counties every year at their county fair. Giving back to those kids just like people important, invested in me,” Ashby explained, looking at a wall full of plaques representing all of the students in the district he has helped.
A common saying of Ashby’s “those who work the hardest are the most likely to succeed.”
Ashby has served on the House Appropriations Committee and has twice been selected as one of 5 House members to negotiate the final state budget. He also distinguished himself as a top leader on defense and veterans’ issues.
Born and raised in Henderson, Jason Rogers signed up to serve after graduating from college. Rogers was in the Army from 1995-1999, stationed at Ft. Stewart, Georgia, and Yongsan, Korea. Rogers says his focus is fighting for veterans in the Texas State House.
Rogers and his wife met at SFA, both completing their graduate programs.
Teaching English at the Lufkin community college for 11 years and says he understand first-hand the challenges that teachers face.
Rogers is no stranger to politics, racing against Ashby in 2018, “after the elections in 2018, I left the college and, you know with a Master’s in English there’s not really much for me to do here other than work at the college, and I was like well
Rogers says his family is at the core of him running for the District 57 seat again, having the full support of his wife and two children.
Serving for the past 7 years, Ashby says one of his biggest accomplishments in the last session was House Bill 3. Ashby says the Bill gave teachers a “much-needed pay raise,” and cut over 5-billion dollars in school property taxes.
“Before I was elected to the legislature, I served on the local school board. So, I know how important it was to see improvement in terms of adequate funding as well as injecting greater equity into our school funding,” explained Ashby.
Ashby served on the House Public Education Committee, worked to create a school finance reform package, adding nearly 12-billion dollars to public schools, and higher learning
As students were sent home to learn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ashby says internet access became a vital tool in particular, “here in our area of rural East Texas we face huge challenges in terms of connectivity.”
Now, he says the poor connection has created a digital divide, one he looks forward to closing.
“It became abundantly clear to me, that us as a region, to continue to promote economic development to entice people to come to our region that broadband and internet was no longer a want, it was a necessity,” said Ashby.
Education is a priority for Rogers as well.
“Some politicians in Austin thought we need to tell these teachers what to do and it bugged me. I said you know, we’re here spending all this time and money just because politicians in Austin who don’t even teach,” explained House Bill 2223.
The Bill requires colleges to allow anyone with a high school degree the opportunity to enroll in community college, no matter their prior education. Many teachers and professors spoke out against the bill, pointing to a learning curve with those who may be behind in basics.
Jobs have become a hot political topic after the COVID 19 pandemic left thousands unemployed.
Rogers a former teacher turned Diesel Technician, his priority is bringing new opportunities to the area, “I think what happens is parents in this area urged their children to go to college, and then they get degrees and they say, well, where am I going to work in Lufkin or in District 57. With my degrees, there aren’t opportunities here.”
The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that Texas’s unemployment rate in August dropped to 6.8 percent, the lowest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic.
Ashby says he’s, “confident that our state will continue to surge towards the level of economic growth and prosperity that makes Texas the greatest state in the nation to do business.”