Texas Elections 2018

Kim Olson talks Ag Commissioner Sid Miller, eminent domain and internet access in rural Texas

The Texas Tribune hosted a conversation with Kim Olson, the Democratic candidate for Texas agriculture commissioner. The discussion was moderated by Tribune co-founder and CEO Evan Smith.

Texas Elections 2018

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in the race for U.S. Senate. View full 2018 Texas election results or subscribe to The Brief for the latest election news.

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The Democratic candidate for Texas agriculture commissioner, Kim Olson, said Thursday that the incumbent she’s challenging, Sid Miller, “is the perfect candidate to run against.”

“Who best can I juxtapose my leadership skill set against?” said Olson.

Olson, a third-generation farmer and retired U.S. Air Force colonel, was speaking with The Texas Tribune’s CEO, Evan Smith, during an hourlong event. You can watch the replay above.

Here are a few highlights:

Sid Miller

Olson said she was going to bring professionalism back to the Texas Department of Agriculture.

“If you are seen as someone who does everything else but agriculture, then that’s not good for Texas’ agriculture,” Olson said about Miller.

Olson said Texans pay the consequences of Miller’s leadership style.

“When ... because of your behavior you can’t get along with legislators, and you can’t get along with the associations that you need to be successful in that job, then people suffer,” Olson said.

Eminent domain

Olson said that Texas’ eminent domain laws need to be looked at.

“What farmers want is a good price for their land,” Olson said. “They don’t want pennies on the dollar. Not only is the land worth something, the land has production value to it.”

Olson also said that, as agriculture commissioner, she would focus on educating farmers about their rights and offering the legal services of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Internet access

Olson said she wants to bring broadband internet to rural Texas.

“I believe it should be a public utility like electricity and water,” Olson said. “And the reason is kids get 80 percent of their homework out of the internet, you can’t start a business without it, you can’t go to higher ed.”

Olson also said that lack of access to internet also affects the health care of rural Texans.

“Because the leadership of this state decided not expand Medicaid, 19 rural hospitals shut down in this state,” Olson said. “Therefore, we could bring telemedicine to some of those places and actually save lives in rural Texas.”

Note: Miller visited with the Tribune’s Smith in February. Watch his event here.