2019 Board of Trustees Election - Candidate Statements (Verbatim)

Brian Richard Barth

Deputy Director II, Director of Project Planning and Development
Texas Department of Transportation
Years of ERS service credit as of March 31, 2019:  30 years, 10 months

In my 30+ year career at TxDOT, I have demonstrated strong leadership abilities, most recently as the Fort Worth District Engineer and now at headquarters in Austin. I have brought people together with different views and found common ground to advance complex transportation projects for residents of North Texas. I have managed and mentored thousands of dedicated state employees and will do my best to ensure they receive the benefits promised to them. My parents are retirees and I have seen the value of good planning as they enjoy their retirement on a fixed income. I plan to make decisions that ensure the long term viability of the Employee Retirement System so retirees and employees can count on the benefits they have earned. I will work hard to put the trust in a position to improve retirement and health care benefits, and possibly enable a 13th check for retirees. I understand the path state employees take on their way to retirement because I have walked that path myself. After earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, I was an engineering assistant in Dallas and then served the Dallas District as Director of Transportation Planning and Development. When I became Fort Worth’s deputy district engineer in 2009, a combination of grit, hard work and determination helped deliver major projects including the DFW Connector, North Tarrant Express, and I-35W. I have the endorsement of the Texas Public Employees Association (TPEA), and look forward to meeting state employees and retirees during this campaign.

Cora Bennett

Case Manager III, Case Manager
Texas Juvenile Justice Department
Years of ERS service credit as of March 31, 2019:  13 years, 10 months

With over 20 years in state service at TJJD, I know how important our ERS benefits are. I want to ensure all of us have a secure retirement with affordable health care coverage. I believe we can achieve this through good fiscal management and by opposing anything that reduces benefits or increases costs.

As a leader in the Texas State Employees Union, I have been active on these issues for years- lobbying for more funding for ERS and educating my coworkers on the importance of these benefits. That is why I have been endorsed by TSEU, its Retiree Organizing Committee, current ERS Board member Ilesa Daniels, and former ERS Board members Yoly Griego and Janice Zitelman.

Retirees haven’t received a cost of living raise in almost 20 years. This is wrong. I will work to strengthen ERS financially to provide cost-of-living increases for retirees. I oppose converting ERS into a 401(k)-style, defined contribution plan. I will stand against increasing costs for active employees and retirees and against forcing members into consumer-driven high deductible health plans. As for investments, we need to leverage the size of the ERS fund to get the best returns.

We all need our pension and health care benefits. We’ve earned them. We need Board members who will work to ensure the stability of our benefits and not shift costs to employees and retirees. If elected, I promise to represent the interests of ALL state employees and retirees to improve our benefits and to protect our pensions.