2014 primary voters guide: Texas statewide races

02/18/2014 10:01 PM

02/18/2014 10:02 PM

Here’s a closer look at candidates in the Republican and Democratic primary races for U.S. House in the March 4 primary elections.

All candidates in contested races that appear on Tarrant County ballots were sent a Star-Telegram questionnaire about their campaigns and background. Here are the responses — unfiltered and in their own words — from the candidates who replied. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected.

Governor

Republicans

Greg Abbott

No reply

Lisa Fritsch

Age: 39

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Talk Radio Show Host, Author, National Radio and Television Commentator.

City: Austin

Campaign phone number: 855-485-4724

Campaign email address: info@lisa4texas.com

Web site: www.lisa4texas.com

Education background, including all degrees: I have a BA in Japanese Language and Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. I studied in Japan in the summer of 1996 at Oberin University. I speak Japanese, Spanish, and English.

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Current: Member of the Advisory Council of National Center for Public Policy Reasearch's Project 21 - a think tank of black conservatives since 1999. Actively involved in several charities including: Lutheran World Relief, Side by Side Kids, Member of Austin Republican Women, Member Williamson County Republican Women. Past: Supporters of CATO Institute, St. David's Foundation, Any Baby Can, Lifeworks, Friedman Foundation, Institute for Justice. Civic speaking involvement/accomplishments: Hands off Texas Rally Speaker, Tea party Patriots, 9/12 events, NorCal Tea Party, San Antonio Tea Party, Sacramento Tea Party.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? In particular I am one of the people I am running to serve. The Governor of Texas is not a litigator, nor does she need to be a career politician. Rather, the Governor of Texas promotes the state and encourages economic growth, provides leadership, and makes critical appointments. He or she does not control the legislature or the budget. However, she is the last court of appeals for the death penalty. She is a champion of the everyday Texan through appointments and budgetary recommendations. Lastly, the Governor empowers business in Texas. A true leader in this position will seek to bring growth and opportunity to all Texans above the special interest and political gain.

For too long, these outside interests have prevented leadership in education, immigration, and economic development in Texas from the bottom up. The common sentiment I hear amongst voters as I travel across Texas is that people want a return to integrity, authenticity and transparency to elected office. For too long we have made politics less about the people we serve and more about raising money and staying in power. The only way to change this is to elect more candidates who have the experience of being a person in the real world - not a career politician.

I am in the unique position to offer this perspective to my constituents.

I am a candidate who shares experiences with the ordinary Texans desiring to do extraordinary things. I have cleaned houses, worked at Wal-Mart, Dairy Queen, have owned my own business, and worked my way through college. I understand what it is like to be an everyday Texan not a politician. Therefore, my office will be about the good people of Texas, not politics.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address?

1. IMMIGRATION REFORM

We start from the foundation of human dignity, liberty, rule of law, and what is good for Texas. We must secure our borders and provide safety for our families on and near the border. Texas must step in where the Federal government is falling short.

I am the only candidate who is boldly taking on true immigration reform with a plan to educate, and mobilize our Texas immigrants towards prosperity and independence.

I support common sense guest worker programs that are good for Texas.

STEP ONE: SECURE the Border with Local Authority and Texas National Guard. Fight human and drug trafficking to keep the border safe. The property rights of Texans who live along the border should be secured using advanced technology – the government should not take their land and build a wall on it.

STEP TWO: Identify illegal immigrants already here and allow the non-violent ones to get a work permit – NOT CITIZENSHIP – just like the government did during the Bracero Program in the 1950s.

STEP THREE: Build a wall around the welfare state by denying welfare to all non-citizens. This will turn off the welfare magnet.

STEP FOUR: Create a Texan guest worker visa program that allows migrants of good standing to come temporarily and work for honest employers when there are no Americans who will do the job. This program should be managed by Texans and for Texans.

I’ll work to influence Federal policy that benefits Texas and grants more power to Texas to set its own policy.

I support reforms that move immigrants towards legal residency status so that:

· immigrants work by the rules; pay taxes, and contribute to the Texas economy

· immigrants are not exploited

· common sense policies will encourage work, not dependency

Texas will not tolerate criminal activity and those involved will be exposed, prosecuted, and deported. We see immigration as an engine of success for the global economy with a bi-lingual workforce that enables Texas to prosper from international trade and commerce in the 21st century.

2. BUILDING A MORE PRODUCTIVE ECONOMY FOR TEXAS

Texas has one of the best economies in the union. But we cannot depend on the strong economy of today to be there for future generations without a cohesive immigration reform and economic development plan. That is why, like my agenda for immigration reform, I have taken a long view of economic policy that will be good for Texas’ future. There is no question that business has been big in Texas. I want to turn our attention to two things economically which have great potential: small business growth and development and the 18.8 percentage of Texans living below the poverty line, which is more than the national average of 15%. My vision for keeping our economy strong is to have an economic solution to growing small businesses and building up our economy from the bottom-up as well as the top down.

I want to use the best practices of micro finance to provide access and opportunity to economically depressed communities. With diligent oversight and management, micro finance can uplift communities into prosperity and lead the way to economic empowerment for working families.

3. EDUCATION REFORM

Our education system is broken and bold leadership is the only solution. It is not that we do not spend enough money on education, rather we have more dollars then sense. I have a comprehensive education reform plan that uses resources in our state beyond TEA and the legislature. We need reforms that involve the community, private sector, educators, and parents along with the executive branch of government. A breakdown in community involvement, inclusiveness, and appropriate appointments have made serious reform difficult.

My first priority is to work towards solutions in education where the money follows each student. I want to establish true school choice within the public school system and through public charter and private schools. I want to look at incremental steps that will restructure the public school system, the way it is funded, the way it is attended, and the way teachers are paid, hired, and terminated. True leadership will collaborate with all invested parties in this process including educators, parents, and the local community. True education reform and educational resource development must also include local churches and the business community who can offer much needed resources that the government is unable to provide. In order to transform our education system into all that it can be for the 21st century, we must make a collective effort for maximum benefit.

As Governor, I want to personally show up for these young women. As the Republican nominee I will not be timid in challenging Davis and those who “Stand with Wendy” on the genocidal statistics that 1800 black babies are aborted daily in the US and in Texas at twice the rate of the black population with Hispanics being close behind.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Yes, I do plan to limit the number of terms I serve to two terms. And, I believe term limits are the answer to halting expanding government and diminishing the power of special interests.

SECEDE Kilgore

Age: 49

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Telecommunications

City: Euless

Campaign phone number: 469-964-1374

Campaign email address: SECEDE@secedekilgore.com

Web site: www.secedekilgore.com

Education background, including all degrees: Mostly the Bible.

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Been married for 24yrs and raised three kids.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I’ve been fighting to free Texas from the US empire for 10yrs.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Secession. Because abortion, war on terror, war on drugs, war on poverty, weak borders, obamacare, education mandates, 15% social security tax, and income tax will be forced on Texans by the US empire, until we SECEDE.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? The new nation of Texas will be established within 100 day of my taking office. Then I will be relived of duty by the president of Texas. I will not seek a position within the new government of Texas for at least one year.

Miriam Martinez

Age and date of birth: 41

Occupation and/or your main source of income: International Representative in the Oil and Gas USA-México-Canada, Journalist, Small Business Owner

Address and how long you’ve lived at that address: P.O. Box 4044 (Have lived in current residence for five years, but use P.O. Box address for sending and receiving correspondence for business and political campaign purposes)

City : Edinburg

Your cellphone and/or other primary phone numbers we need to reach you: Use e-mail address of Pr.Martinezforgovernor.com for the purposes of communicating with the news media and voters.

Campaign phone number: Pr.Martinezforgovernor.com

Campaign email address: P.O. Box 4044, Edinburg, Texas

Web site: www.MiriamforTexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: Universidad Valle del Bravo Reynosa, México (Law two years); CEDIM Monterrey, Nuevo Leon (One year Marketing and Design)

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: As a candidate for elected office, I am promoting major legislation and policies to help Texans from all walks-of-life, and I do so as part of my civic involvement for our state. In 2013, I participated in CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. from March 14 through March 16.

In 2012, I was the Republican nominee for Texas House of Representatives, House District 41.

In 2012, I was selected to the Future Majority Project, a forward-thinking outreach initiative intended to proactively grow the Republican Party. Major goals of the Future Majority Project are to identify and support new Republican candidates of Hispanic descent and women candidates for state office.

In 2012, I was a delegate to the Texas GOP Convention held in Ft. Worth from June 7 through June 9.

Please note that I became a naturalized U.S. citizen in late 2010, so I was unable to vote before then.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? My experiences as a broadcast journalist made me aware of injustices that need to be overcome here in Texas. My successes as a small business owner, and my honor of raising three amazing children have led me to successfully promote local and state laws and policies that benefit my region and state.

Also keep in mind that the Governor of Texas is provided an expert staff on legislative and state government issues to help him/her implement his/her goals, work with the Texas Legislature and the Congress, and help lead state government in general.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Keep state taxes low, provide proper funding for education, and promote the U.S. Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, which limits the powers of the federal government and protects the rights of all citizens, such as freedom of speech and the right to own guns.

Keeping state taxes low means more businesses and jobs are created, which result in more state money, through existing state taxes and fees, to invest in public education, health care, public safety and other state programs.

I am proposing The Texas Immigration Reform to identify more than one million undocumented immigrants in Texas. My plan would prohibit their use of state welfare services, require them to pay U.S. income taxes, follow all state laws in Texas, including carrying vehicle insurance, pay all state licenses, fees, and penalties, and protect U.S.-born children of this very important Texas workforce from being cruelly separated from their parents.

I would OPPOSE increasing the state sales and use tax, OPPOSE expanding the state sales and use tax, and OPPOSE creating a state personal income tax.

As governor, half of my gubernatorial appointments to state boards, commissions and agencies would be women. (Gubernatorial appointments require the advice and consent of the Senate).

As vacancies occur which require gubernatorial appointments, for each commission, board, and agency, I would first select a qualified woman, then a qualified man, in that order.

I would support legislation to allow a statewide election to require future governors to always select women for half of their appointments.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve? I would serve no more than two terms, and I would support a state constitutional amendment election to limit the terms of office for an individual to two terms, including the offices of governor, lt. governor, attorney general, state comptroller, agriculture commissioner, and Texas railroad commissioner.

Democrats

Wendy R. Davis

Age: 50

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Lawyer

City: Fort Worth

Campaign phone number: 817-886-8863

Campaign email address: info@wendydavistexas.com

Web site: http://www.wendydavistexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Texas Christian University, Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Senator Davis hosted a Senate District 10 "Civic Literacy & Leadership Camp," in 2013 to engage our community’s future leaders in government. She is a past member of the Cenikor Faculty Advisory Board of Fort Worth, as well as a member of the Women’s Policy Forum, Tarrant County League of Women Voters, and various chambers of commerce.  

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? My life story shaped my values and priorities as a public servant. As a waitress, receptionist, lawyer, neighborhood leader, business owner, bi-partisan City Council member, economic and transportation leadership chair, and now State Senator representing the state’s most politically, geographically, economically and ethnically diverse Senate district, I am prepared to be a Texas Governor ready to grow and protect the economy that so many hard working Texans built.  I am a coalition builder who believes in the inclusion of diverse voices at the table, working to achieve the priorities of communities across Texas. Texas’ next Governor must bring both parties to the table and set a vision for working with her legislature to address our needs. My background uniquely equips me to set that tone and to lead a team made up of diverse perspectives.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? My highest priority will be to refocus Texas’ attention on maintaining and growing our place in the world economy through the support of public and higher education. Additionally, I will address pressing needs in water and transportation infrastructure. And I will strengthen accountability and transparency of our economic incentive programs to continue their use in attracting new and retaining existing businesses in Texas, with a dedicated focus on growing small businesses in economically depressed areas of our state. I will also work to find a Texas solution to draw down the estimated $100 billion in our federal healthcare dollars that are available to us over the next ten years in order to assure a healthy workforce and to leverage the economic stimulus that those dollars create. Finally, I will work to assure that our veterans receive the recognition and respect that they deserve, placing adequate emphasis on returning them to the civilian workforce and addressing their needs in both the mental and physical healthcare arenas.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I think Texans should decide how many terms our Governor may serve them.  This can be accomplished by a constitutional amendment or directly at the ballot box every four years.   

Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal

No reply

Lieutenant Governor

Republicans

David Dewhurst (i)

Age: 68

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Lieutenant Governor; Founder of Falcon Seaboard, an oil and gas investments company

City: Houston

Campaign phone number: (512) 682-1082

Campaign email address: info@daviddewhurst.com

Web site: daviddewhurst.com

Education background, including all degrees: Bachelor’s Degree, University of Arizona (Class of 1967); Attended Georgetown University School of Law

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Current Lieutenant Governor; Texas Land Commissioner from January 1999 through January 2003.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? Over the course of the last eleven years I have helped turn Texas into a better, more prosperous state. This has been done partially through my leadership in getting good, conservative legislation passed. Please refer to question above for more on all I have accomplished while in office

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address?

Illegal Immigration: I believe any conversation about illegal immigration begins and ends with securing the border, which the federal government has failed to do. In the absence of federal action, I became the first Lieutenant Governor in Texas history to fund border security efforts. Since 2008, we have spent $800 million to bolster our border security efforts. Last fall, we conducted a border security surge and effectively shut down illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug trafficking in the Rio Grande Valley. I believe we should make such surge operations a permanent fixture, until the federal government steps up and fulfills its responsibilities. When the border is secure and an effective E-Verify system is in place, I support instituting a limited guest worker program for the positions that citizens and legal residents have shown they do not want to fill. Guest workers must apply in their home country and get in the back of the line of those seeking work.

Obamacare: I support efforts to both defund and fully repeal Obamacare on both the state and national level. This past session I have ensured Texas did not set up a state Obamacare exchange and also rejected the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. We have also continued to protect Texans by ensuring that Obamacare navigators must protect the privacy of Texans and cannot transfer information improperly to President Obama’s cronies. Obamacare is a massive failure and risks bankrupting our country. We will continue demand that the federal government allow Texas to control how its tax dollars are spent by changing Medicaid to a state-controlled block grant. If implemented, it would allow Texas to utilize the most efficient and most cost effective means to achieve good medical outcomes and cut state government spending.

Federal Intrusion Into Texans’ Lives: We took a proactive step in protecting the privacy of Texans from drones by passing HB 912 last session. Thanks to this legislation, it is now illegal to conduct unauthorized surveillance on an individual or privately-owned business. While drones may play a role in protecting our border, they cannot and should not be used to target Texas citizens. In addition to drone legislation, I believe there is more we can do to protect the privacy rights of Texas in the digital age. Last session, we led the nation by passing a comprehensive email privacy bill that limited access to electronic communications without a warrant. Next session, I will lead the charge to pass the Texas Privacy Protection Act ensure that Texas has the nation’s strongest data privacy laws, protecting your personal information, communications, and location from warrantless surveillance. I also believe Texans should know what data is being collected about them and with whom that data is being shared. Texans should be able to grant informed consent before their personal data is packaged and resold for profit. I also oppose any efforts from the federal government to infringe on Texans’ 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. This includes any form of gun registry.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? If elected, this will be my last term in office. I support instituting term limits so long as they are applicable to all offices.

Dan Patrick

No reply

Jerry Patterson

Age: 67

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Texas Land Commissioner

City: Austin

Campaign phone number: 512-476-2014

Campaign email address: elam@votepatterson.com or info@votepatterson.com

Web site: www.votepatterson.com

Education background, including all degrees: BA History, Texas A&M, 1969

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: State Senator 1993-1999, Texas Land Commissioner 2003-present

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? A history of leadership, including 24 years as an officer in the U. S. Marine Corps and 6 years in the Texas Senate passing landmark legislation such as the Texas

Concealed Handgun Law and the most significant property right measure in the last 50 years, the Texas home equity lending constitutional amendment, which was approved by the voters by almost a 2/3's margin. Additionally, I have served 11 years as the statewide elected Texas Land Commissioner during which time record setting revenues were achieved for the Permanent School Fund and the Permanent University Fund, as well as the greatest increase in Texas veterans benefits through my leadership as chairman of the Texas Veterans Land Board. I have been a vocal and consistent defender of the oil and gas industry, and fought in federal court to protect mineral rights of Texas property owners. I have been the most vocal and successful opponent of the federal government's efforts to use the Endangered Species Act to negatively impact the Texas economy and the property rights of Texas landowners.

In summary, I know how to lead and I know the most important component of successful leadership is to obtain and maintain the respect of those whom you seek to lead. That can be done by being straight, honest and direct with the voters, as well as the 31 members of the Texas Senate. My simple promise to Texan's is that I will tell you what I truly believe, instead of telling you what I think you want to hear. I firmly believe that the next generation is far more important than the next election, and that politicians are simply just passing through. We will be soon forgotten, but what we do or fail to do will be remembered. My goal is to insure the Texas of tomorrow, does not look like the California of today.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Transportation, water, education, and border security, not necessarily in that order.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I plan to serve 2 four year terms as LtGov and retire from public office.

Todd Staples

Age: 50

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, real estate broker and appraiser.

City: I was born and raised in Texas, and have lived in Palestine, TX my entire life except for college, and while Commissioner of Agriculture where I maintained my residency in Austin, but my home is in Palestine.

Campaign phone number: 512-912-1603

Campaign email address: todd@toddstaples.com

Web site: www.toddstaples.com

Education background, including all degrees: 1984 Honors graduate of Texas A & M University; Bachelor of Science Agriculture Economics

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Currently Commissioner of Agricutlure:

Cut waste, implemented efficiencies, and consolidated agencies with and at the Texas Department of Agriculture resulting in excess of $50 million returned to the taxpayers of Texas; Developed a 6-point immigration reform plan that does not include amnesty and starts with border security; Brought national attention to the federal government’s failure to secure our border by procuring a Strategic Military Assessment of the Texas border and aided in funding Operation Drawbridge (with budget savings from the Texas Department of Agriculture) that has resulted in the apprehension of over 20,000 seeking illegal entry and the confiscation of over 40 tons of narcotics; Sued the Obama EPA over job-killing mandates; Championed private property owners rights legislation and passage of a 2009 state constitutional amendment protecting home and landowners from eminent domain abuses; Worked with the private sector to launch a voluntary, consumer education water conservation campaign to meet our state’s water needs

Former Member of the Texas House and Senate:

Fighter for Free Enterprise Award (Texas Association of Business), Friend of the Taxpayer Award (Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy), Civil Justice Leadership Award (Texans for Lawsuit Reform) & Realtors Hall of Fame (Texas Association of Realtors); Consistently rated one of Texas’ top conservatives while serving in the Texas House and Senate; Sponsored and passed the State Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman; Passed major workers’ compensation reform; Recognized as a leader for a quality and accountable education system; Worked to pass historic tax cuts in both the House and Senate.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? Texans demand and deserve leaders, not just talkers, and my record is one of taking on tough issues and fighting to deliver conservative results. I have written a Contract With Texans because voters deserve to know where I stand on the issues, and they are outlined in full on my website: www.toddstaples.com .

Both parties have let us down. Failing to secure our border is unacceptable. Border security is paramount to the future success of Texas and I have been actively working on this issue for years, not just before an election like my opponents. I have developed a six-point plan which starts with border security and does NOT include amnesty. Real issues deserve results and leaders who can deliver. I know I can because I have delivered on conservative issues time and time again and will not allow a liberal minority to sideline or slow down the critical issues facing Texas. David Dewhurst has had 12 years to lead and wants four more, all while saying he is for term limits. It shouldn’t take more than a decade to get things right.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Texans deserve a new leader who will fight to deliver conservative solutions on the tough issues like border security, the economy and jobs, education and fighting against intrusive federal government programs like Obamacare and an out-of-control EPA. David Dewhurst’s loss to Ted Cruz, failure to lead against a liberal minority and creating a national liberal celebrity out of Wendy Davis, big spending habits and complete failure on border security prove he is not the leader to move our state forward.

Texas is great, but I believe we can do better. Texas needs a fighter. Texas needs a leader with a clear plan of action.

To provide voters transparency and accountability, I have outlined Ten Steps to a Strong Texas in my Contract With Texans which clearly defines my priorities as Lieutenant Governor. To learn more please visit www.toddstaples.com .

These priorities are:

Secure the Texas Border

Cut Taxes, Grow Jobs, Limit Size & Scope of Government

Get State Spending Under Control, Lower Debt, Increase Transparency

Strengthen 2nd Amendment Rights, Defend Our State’s Rights

Defend the Sanctity of Life, Improve Women’s Health, Uphold Traditional Family Values

Demand Student Focused, Parent Driven, Transparent and Quality Education System

Improve Healthcare, Reject Obamacare, Demand Welfare Reform

Defend Private Property Owners’ Rights

Uphold and Expand Tort Reforms

Apply Conservative Leadership on Transportation and Water Priorities

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Politicians are like socks and should be changed often. I do support term limits for this office. Having served on my local city council, in the Texas House and Senate and now as the Commissioner of Agriculture, I have accepted the responsibility provided to me by the voters by taking action, accomplishing the job, serving a limited time in each position, and moving on.

Attorney General

Republicans

Dan Branch

No reply

Ken Paxton

No reply

Barry Smitherman

Age: 9-13-57

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Chairman, Railroad Commission of Texas

City: Austin

Campaign phone number: 512-522-5601

Campaign email address: jared@barryfortexas.com

Web site: www.barryfortexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: Texas A&M, BBA; University of Texas School of Law, JD; Harvard, MPA

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Chairman, Railroad Commission of Texas; Chairman, Public Utility Commission; Harris Co. Assistant District Attorney; Ballet Austin Board of Directors (former); Eanes ISD Education Foundation (former); Midland Republican Women's Club (associate member); Travis County Republican Women's Club (associate member)

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I have a great mix of public and private sector experience that I will bring to the Office of the attorney general. I am a former prosecutor with experience leading large state agencies and I worked in public finance for seventeen years. I have already sued the Obama Administration seven times during my time on the PUC and RRC to fight back against bad regulations that would have cost Texas jobs and harmed our economy. The attorney general’s office is not a voting position; it’s a leadership and executive management position. The office consists of over 4,200 employees and has a half a billion dollar a year budget. As the leader of large state agencies I’ve returned over $100 million in taxpayer dollars unspent and improved the operations and customer service. I have a proven record of getting results for Texans and I look forward to continuing my service as the next attorney general.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address?

1. Border security, and crime along the border that eventually migrates through the rest of our state, is one of the biggest problems facing Texas. As the next attorney general, I will create a Border Security task force that will restore law and order to South Texas and the border area. Bringing together a special task force of law enforcement professionals and assistant attorneys general, working with local district attorneys and local prosecutors, will make a significant positive impact on this ever increasing problem. It is unthinkable that Texans living along the border are afraid to go out on their property at night for fear of who and what they might encounter. We need to send a stong signal to drug, sex and human traffickers and other terrorist and criminals that if you break the law in Texas, you will be prosecuted through the criminal justice system and you will go to jail.

2. Out-of-control federal regulations and policies are the second biggest issue facing Texans. As attorney general, I will continue to fight the Obama Administration’s overreach on climate change, photo-id, pro-life laws, Voting Rights Act cases and many other issues that are a constant threat to Texans and our way of life. The current administration has decided that it can circumvent our laws and constitution through agency rulemaking and executive orders. Unfortunately, many of those actions have harmed the Texas economy and trampled our rights. Other states look to the Texas attorney general for guidance and assistance with regard to important fights we need to have about the role of the federal government and the rights reserved to the states and their people.

3. Finally, I want to conduct a thorough review of the attorney general’s office and make certain that the 4,200 employees and the over half a billion dollar a year budget are working efficiently for Texans. Every large state agency I’ve managed has had room for improvement. I will provide better customer service at a lower price for the people of Texas. In particular I believe we need to thoroughly examine the Child Support Division of the office of the attorney general. This division is by far the largest and it plays a critically important role in the lives of many Texans. Under Texas Family Law, our goal is to always take action that’s in the best interest of our children. I will ensure that the Child Support Division is responsive to parents and judges to make certain that Texas Children are well cared for.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? When elected my objective will be to achieve the goals related to the priorities that I just outlined. I will work tirelessly for the people of Texas for as long as I need to restore law and order to south Texas and keep our people safe, to fight the federal government’s intrusion into our lives and to make the office of the attorney general the best it can be for our state. The people will decide how long I serve as their attorney general.

Comptroller of Public Accounts

Republicans

Glenn Hegar

Age: 43

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Small business owner

City: Katy

Campaign phone number: 281-391-0720

Campaign email address: campaign@glennhegar.com

Web site: www.glennhegar.com

Education background, including all degrees: Texas A&M University 1993 Bachelors; St. Mary’s University 1997 Law; St. Mary’s University 1997 Masters

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Serving the constituents of Senate District 18; Senate Sponsor of HB 3430 (80th Legislature); Senate Sponsor of HB 500 (83rd Legislature); Senate Sponsor of HB 2 (83rd Legislature Second Called Session); 2013 Defender of Freedom Award (NRA), “Courageous Conservative” by Texas Conservative Coalition, 2013 Perfectly Pro-life Award (Texas Right to Life), 2009 Legislator of the Year Award (Texas State Rifle Association), Champion of Free Enterprise Award (Texas Association of Business), Civil Justice Leadership Award (Texans for Lawsuit Reform), Legislative Excellence Award (Texas Municipal Police Association), Star for Rural Texas (Texas Farm Bureau)

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? First, I am a small business owner who understands how much a burdensome government and tax system can impact not only our economy, but also the individuals who work hard every day to succeed and provide for their families. I have also served on the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The Comptroller serves as the state’s Chief Financial Officer, so it is absolutely critical that he or she has a fundamental understanding of how the entire budget process works. Additionally, during the 83rd legislative session, I served as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters, which was charged with reviewing all state and local revenue matters. I am proud to say that the analysis done by this committee resulted in about $1 billion in tax cuts for Texas taxpayers and businesses. Finally, I previously served as Chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission. As chairman, my sole duty was to identify and eliminate waste, duplication and inefficiency in government agencies. I will take my sunset review experience to improve the day-to-day operations and efficiency of the Comptroller’s office. In my opinion, experience in these areas would help a Comptroller in reforming our state government. I feel my record in the legislature reflects first that I am grounded in my conservative principles, and second that I have the necessary skills, experience and leadership to actually get things done.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? One issue I talk about while on the campaign trail is taking my experience as a former Sunset Advisory Commission Chairman and completing a full review of the Comptroller’s office and its programs. The CPA office is exempt from the sunset review process, and I think it’s ripe for an efficiency review, my goal of which would be to eliminate the shiny objects that distract from the real duties of the office in order to streamline the agency. Second, I’d like to eliminate any outdated programs, taxes and fees that come to light during that initial review process. Third, I have heard complaints from businesses that customer service in the Comptroller’s office needs improvement. I do not want any dark clouds hanging over businesses that have questions on how to implement a tax. I will implement changes so that businesses receive quick answers from the agency when dealing with tax dispute issues.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I trust the voters to make the decisions as to who deserves to serve in any office

Harvey Hilderbran

Age: 54

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Business man, real estate broker

City: Kerrville

Campaign phone number: (210) 570-8475

Campaign email address: manager@harveyfortexas.com

Web site: http://www.HarveyForTexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, Texas Tech University

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Member, Kerrville Chamber of Commerce; Active member, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church; Kerrville Board Member (honorary); Hill Country District Livestock Show; Member, Board of Directors, Kerrville Economic Development Foundation; Member, Hill Country Veterans Council

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I’m running for Texas Comptroller because I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve our state in this capacity at this time, to improve the lives of all our citizens by helping grow our economy and help small business.

Nearly every business in Texas works directly with the Texas Comptroller’s office, and so the Comptroller’s office needs to foster new business creation and work with Texas businesses to fairly enforce the tax system and work through disputes in the best way possible.

I am running to advance free enterprise, limit government, grow the Texas economy and work constructively with the private sector in Texas.

My background is in having direct oversight of the Comptroller’s office for the past three years as House Ways and Means chairman. In that time, I have held countless hearings and passed two important, major tax bills. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t in the Comptroller’s office, and that experience has made me passionate about my ten-point Performance Pledge to the voters and the ideas in them.

I believe that I am the most experienced, most substantive, conservative candidate running for this important office who has a specific plan of action and vision for how we can improve the office of Texas Comptroller.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? I believe the Comptroller’s office has many very important duties, but three I would single out are:

1. Revenue estimation – The revenue estimation area of the Texas Comptroller’s office directly impacts how much the legislature can spend each biennium on all government services. The unfortunate fact is that the last two revenue estimations were the most inaccurate in state history. While the Texas economy is particularly dynamic right now, I believe we can do better in this area. It is my intention to provide more regular revenue estimation reports for the legislature and the public, and if I am elected, as part of a top to bottom review of the office, we will see what improvements can be made in the revenue estimation function in the office.

2. Business facilitation – The Texas Comptroller’s office is either enabling business and economic growth or constricting it, through helping businesses start up or working through tax disputes, for example. We cannot have an adversarial relationship between the Texas Comptroller’s office and Texas businesses, and that’ the one complain I’ve consistently heard across Texas over the past three years. The Texas Comptroller’s office, should I be elected, will make clear that we will be fair to all Texas businesses, with customer service improvement always in mind.

3. Ensuring fairness for taxpayers – Texas desperately needs to level the playing field in the direction of the taxpayer and away from the state.

As Texans, we have a long heritage of fighting for our rights and standing up to whatever powers would seek to deprive us of our freedoms. From our right to keep and bear arms to our rights to pass laws as a state, constitutional liberties are what enable us to live freely in Texas.

Texas needs a Taxpayer Bill of Rights—and one that ultimately is preserved in the Texas Constitution—so that these important rights cannot be changed on a whim. Taxpayers are the underdog in our current system. There are many inequities, but we can correct most of them—ultimately making fair treatment permanent through a constitutional Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Such a Texas Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment should put an end to these inequitable and unfair practices, and mean that the State would:

1. Stop cheating taxpayers on interest payments – Texas taxpayers deserve parity in the way interest is applied to tax refund claims and assessments. The State today treats its money as being more valuable than a taxpayer’s money. If a Texas taxpayer underpays taxes, the State charges interest on the unpaid tax at a significantly higher rate than the rate it pays when the State has to refund money to a taxpayer.

2. Stop collecting tax assessments until appeals are final – Texas taxpayers deserve their day in court before they have to pay. Texas Taxpayers can be faced with losing their businesses when hit with large tax assessments that may not be correct. Under the State’s “Pay to Play Scheme,” the State begins enforcement and collection actions before you can even get to the courthouse. I’ll put an end to this decades-old unfair practice.

3. Quit making taxpayers wait to get their money back - The Texas economy is strong and getting stronger and taxpayers shouldn’t have to wait for their tax refunds. I’ll make sure Texas Taxpayers have a right to timely refunds. When I’m Comptroller, if you overpay your taxes, I’ll make sure you get them back without a long wait.

4. Stop making taxpayers guess what the law is - Texas taxpayers should have the right to accurate tax guidance when needed. Taxpayers just want to know the correct way to report taxes, but the rules that are in place today almost guarantee that, in many instances, they get no guidance at all.

5. End lopsided dispute and appeal processes - Texas taxpayers deserve a truly fair and impartial forum for settling tax disputes. From start to finish, the process today gives the State advantages that the taxpayer does not get. Worst of all, if a taxpayer actually wins a tax dispute before an administrative law judge, the Comptroller can still–and often does–reverse the judge’s decision. Even Illinois has a better system than Texas for resolving tax disputes and I think that is shameful.

The seven points of my proposal, which is item #4 of my Performance Pledge to the voters, are:

1. AUDIT FAIRNESS: If the IRS opens a federal audit, any subsequent state audit will be limited in scope and time only to that which the IRS is investigating.

2. SIMPLIFY REFUND PROCESS: If a federal audit uncovers facts that conclude a taxpayer is due a refund from the state, the state should make it easier for the taxpayer to obtain that refund.

3. ADJUDICATION BEFORE PAYMENT: If a legal tax protest is underway, a taxpayer does not have to pay the full tax amount until it is adjudicated.

4. EXTEND PROTEST PERIOD: The time requirement to file a tax protest will increase to 90 days from 30 days.

5. INTEREST RATE PARITY: Taxpayers should receive the same interest rate on refunds due as the state charges taxpayers when collecting deficient taxes.

6. DEFINED TIME PERIOD: The statute of limitations on tax audits will be limited and cannot be continually extended.

7. MADE PERMANENT: Once passed and implemented, this Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights should be offered as a Constitutional Amendment and left to the voters to make permanent.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I believe that I can accomplish most of my Performance Pledge to the voters and will be held accountable by the voters. I will make decisions about the future in the future, but I suspect it will take eight years to make the improvements that are needed in the Comptroller’s office to keep Texas competitive, grow the economy and ensure fairness for taxpayers.

Debra Medina

No reply

Raul Torres

Age: 59

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Certified Public Accountant, Business Owner

City: Corpus Christi

Campaign phone number: 210-399-8799

Campaign email address: elect.raultorres@yahoo.com

Web site: http://www.electraultorres.com

Education background, including all degrees: MBA, BBA

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: State Representative, District 33 2011-2013. During my first term in office at the Texas House of Representatives, I served on the Appropriations and Insurance Committees. I authored key legislation, SB 563, which was designed to eliminate wasteful government spending. I also carried legislation to bring additional economic development and jobs to the city of Corpus Christi. I also carried legislation returning approximately $77 million from the state to cities and counties, resulting in his being honored with Texas Municipal League’s Legislator of the Year Award for 2011. In addition, I also earned the Texas Association of Benefit Administrator’s “Top Ten Legislator” Award, the Texas Association of Business “Fighter of Free Enterprise” Award, and the Americans for Prosperity – Texas ““Defender of the American Dream” for my support of the business community and protecting our American Dream in Texas.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? Texas has never had a CPA as its Comptroller. The fact is that the experience, training, and education that comes with being a license and practicing CPA gives me a huge advantage over my opponents. I am the only candidate that has hands on working experience in the Comptroller’s office. I understand the political and technical aspects of the job of Comptroller. As a CPA I have a much better understanding of what the office does, how it works, and in grasping technical issues and tax laws. Business as usual will not solve the state’s looming $900 billion financial crisis http://www.slideshare.net/rtcpa2000/texas-tomorrow-the-future-of-texas-by-raul-torres-cpa, I am the only candidate with a written economic and financial plan ready to go as of day one on the job.

I am running for office because the office is faced with serious internal and external challenges and problems. The next Comptroller would be best qualified if he has the experience, training, and skills of a true accountant, a true financial treasurer, a true Chief Financial Officer to properly address the necessary solutions to these many challenges and problems because another career politician does not have the skills to solve our challenges or take advantage of our opportunities.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? In my Contract with Texas I identified six priorities. Here are three of them:

· Implement Lean Six Sigma into state government. Sigma experts estimate there is $10-$15 billion in wasteful spending in state government. I plan to begin with the Comptroller’s office.

· I will use the Texas Expenditure Limit (TEL) in determining the amount of funds available to the Legislature for the budget. The reason is sound. Since 2003 the Legislature has spent in excess of $17 billion over the state’s (TEL) according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank group, while leaving critical issues like water and roads virtually unfunded. We must learn to prioritize our state spending to ensure continuing economic growth.

· I will establish a new statewide business partnership program. It will consists of: (1) The implementation of quarterly online and regional town hall meetings; (2) The establishment of six regional business advisory panels that will work closely with the Comptroller’ office to identify ideas that will grow the economy; (3) Set up task force to identify all regulations, permits, and laws that impede business growth; (4) The broadcast of weekly radio commentaries highlighting the economy, tax updates, and highlighting the newest innovations and business practices taking place in Texas.

Advancing these priorities are essential to our state’s future financial health. The reason is sound: The state of Texas can gain great benefits from the development and design and establishment of a clear 20 year financial plan for the state that provides workable and proven solutions. I believe the Comptroller must lead and rather than follow the lead of other politicians. He must set the policy ideas and the path to ensure that Texas remains economically strong. I have prepared an economic plan that address the needs and solutions for many of our current issues, most notably, it provides for a pathway to generate the necessary funds to pay for the $900 billion without a tax increase over the next 30 years. My plan calls for changes in the budget process, tax policy reforms, education reforms, and the establishment of citizen and business advisory groups to provide direction in regulatory, education, and legislative changes to enhance and support our economy and our quality of life in Texas. In addition, I will focus on building and fostering a pro-business climate between the business community and the Comptroller’s office.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I plan to only serve two terms for the office of Comptroller. Yes, I do believe we need term limits for all elected offices in Texas.

Land commissioner

Republicans

George P. Bush

Age: 37

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Energy Consultant

City: Fort Worth, TX

Campaign phone number: (855) 472-4456

Campaign email address: teamp@georgepbush.com

Web site: www.GeorgePforTexas.org

Education background, including all degrees: Undergraduate Degree from Rice University; JD from the University of Texas School of Law

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: I co-chaired a $30 million capital campaign for Big Brothers Big Sisters in North Texas and serves as the co-chairman of the Dallas/Fort Worth Celebration of Reading. I am currently the Tarrant County chairman for Uplift Education—a highly successful Dallas-based public charter network focused on closing the achievement gap in inner-city public schools. I also serve on the Board of Trustees for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? As a strong conservative, I offer the voters solutions to the major challenges facing our State and the GLO. I have a background that directly coincides with the skillset needed by the Texas Land Commissioner, making me the most qualified candidate for this office. As a former teacher, an asset manager with experience in the energy industry and as a Naval officer who has served in Afghanistan, I have the necessary expertise to make decisions in the areas of the State that the GLO touches.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Simply put, the GLO has an important role to play in funding education, developing energy policy, and helping our veterans. Funding education is important to the state because it is the first step in making sure that Texas and Texans are prepared for the future. We must continue to lead the Country in energy production through pro-growth policies and defend small business owners who create more jobs than any other types of businesses. Finally, it is of the upmost importance to raise awareness regarding unemployment and the rate of suicide for those who have served all of us—our veterans.

David Watts

Age: 46

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Business consultant

City: Gilmer

Campaign phone number: 903-215-0248

Campaign email address: david@WattsforTexas.org

Web site: www.WattsforTexas.org

Education background, including all degrees: Bachelor of Science, Political Science, University of Louisville

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Prior member of United States Civil Air Patrol, Member of the Northeast Church of Christ, Active preacher and teacher in the community, Four preaching trips to India.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? In particular, I bring 22+ years of real-world business leadership experience to this position. I lead large organizations through transformative business projects across the U.S. and in Europe and occasionally Japan. My expertise is business consulting, technology consulting, and human capital management. That real world expertise will allow me to be an effective leader and to meet the organizational challenges and needs of the General Land Office.

Additionally, my specialty of human capital management will provide for a senior leadership perspective which understands that ultimately the only resource any organization has is that of its employees. Human capital is the most precious capital of all forms of capital. Without human capital, there is no other form of capital. With my expertise, I'll lead the GLO to ensure that we are recruiting the right people, with the right talent, and the right time. And, that we are providing the kind of career development potential for each and every employee so as to maximize their career growth.

Finally, as an authentic conservative, I understand that the work of the General Land Office must be constrained to its Constitutional scope and focus. Executive branch agencies almost always expand their scope beyond their original charter and insulate themselves from the public. We need to make sure this never takes place at the GLO. As Land Commissioner, I'll use my knowledge and love of Texas and my ability to articulate conservative solutions - to lead the GLO toward conservative solutions which benefit all Texans.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? At a fundamental level, we will first make sure that each and every action of the GLO is constitutional and is authorized. There are specific issues that we must champion:

I'll work to educate the public and the Legislature on why we must stop diverting at least $1 billion annually toward the education of non-citizen children of illegal immigrants. I'll work to convince the Legislature that we must refocus Texas education funding on Texas children and lawful residents. And if we can successfully get the Legislature to pass such legislation, we'll lead the fight back to the Supreme Court to challenge Plyler v. Doe.

I'll reject efforts to have the Alamo designated as a U.N. World Heritage Site. The mere possibility of such a designation has already been used as influence to reject new construction in San Antonio. While the U.N. will not have control or authority over the Alamo, they will exert influence and I will reject such arrangements. There are no problems at the Alamo that require the U.N.'s help. There are no problems at the Alamo that Texans can't solve.

I'll work with the Legislature to build a framework whereby we restore custodianship of the Alamo to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The GLO can continue to have a checks and balances role, but we must respect the historic role of the DRT and restore custodianship of the Alamo to the 7,000 women of the DRT.

I'll immediately halt efforts to close the historically important Rollover Pass on Bolivar Peninsula. We'll then formulate a plan to save it for future generations of Texans while addressing erosion concerns.

I'll work with the Legislature to bring together the work of the Veterans Land Board and the Texas Veterans Commission into one unified work. Not only will this reduce redundancy and waste, but it will provide a much more effective and streamlined experience for our Texas Veterans. In view of Texas Veterans benefits, all services from low cost mortgages, to nursing homes, to cemeteries, to job aid, to education assistance, to navigating the Federal VA, will be housed in one streamlined organization. It is vital that this new work remain under the direct oversight of the directly elected Texas Land Commissioner, as this person must be the single person who can be easily and directly held accountable for how our veterans are cared for.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I believe there is artificial term limit that is as effective as an engaged and informed electorate. While I have no arbitrary term limit in mind, I personally cannot envision serving more than two terms.

Agriculture Commissioner

Republicans

J. Allen Carnes

Age: 39

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Farming

City: Uvalde

Campaign phone number: 1-80-433-1387

Campaign email address: jcarnes@jcarnesfortexas.com

Web site: jcarnesfortexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: BBA University of Texas

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Current Mayor of Uvalde, 4 years on City Council, Finance Chairman at First United Methodist Church, youth sports coach

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I am a career farmer, not a career politician. I am a vegetable, cotton and grain farmer. I’m the former president of the Texas Vegetable Association, former director of the Texas Produce Association and I have a Finance degree from the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business. I have been active in agricultural policymaking for years in Washington, DC working on issues vital to the well being of Texas agriculture.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Water is #1; protecting Texas agriculture from federal overreach, promoting Texas ag products; inspiring next generation of farmers and ranchers so Texas never becomes dependent on a foreign soil for food and fiber sources.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Yes I believe all offices should have term limits and was instrumental in passing that on the City Council in Uvalde.

Joe Cotten

No reply

Tommy Merritt

Age: 65

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Farmer, Rancher, and Businessman

City: Kilgore

Campaign phone number: 430.558.4924

Campaign email address: tcm@tommymerritt.com

Web site: www.TommyMerritt.com

Education background, including all degrees: Kilgore College (1966-1968); Texas Christian University (BBA, 1970)

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: I have volunteered on dozens of Republican political campaigns at all levels of government, dating back to my work for Barry Goldwater in 1964. I am proud to have helped the elect the first Republican to office in Gregg County, which is now an overwhelmingly Republican county. Outside of the political realm, I have been involved with Junior Achievement and the Boy Scouts in my local community and, with my family, established the Janet Herrington Merritt Rangerette Scholarship at Kilgore College.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? My experience as an elected member of the Texas Legislature, coupled with my broad executive management experience in the private sector, makes me the most uniquely qualified for this office. Unlike some of my opponents, I am neither a lawyer nor a lobbyist; I am a successful and experienced entrepreneur who built and managed multi-million dollar businesses with hundreds of employees for more than three decades.

I bring a business and managerial skill set that will allow me to effectively run a large agency like the Texas Department of Agriculture in a manner that is beneficial to taxpayers and stakeholders in the Agriculture industry.

I also have the conservative experience that Texans trust, which is why I’m endorsed by the former Agriculture Committee Chair, Rick Hardcastle, and the following individuals and groups: Gary Polland/Texas Conservative Review, Terry Lowry/What’s Up Radio Program/Link Letter, Congressman Ralph Hall, Department of Public Safety Officers Association, Texas State Fire Fighters Association, POLICE, Inc., Senator Kevin Eltife, several local mayors and county commissioners, numerous Republican party officials, and Donnie Gay, 8-time PCRA world champion bull rider.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address?

1. ) Property Taxes: The reform of our property tax and property appraisal system is key to sustaining the Texas agriculture industry, because family farmers and ranchers are suffering due to oppressive property taxes.

2) Illegal Immigration: Facilitate cooperation between local landowners and law enforcement to stop illegal trespassing on private property and ensure that immigration regulations are enforced.

3) Water: Overhaul the burdensome bureaucratic water regulatory system to enable farmers and ranchers to effectively do their jobs while preserving our precious resources.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Texans deserve an Agriculture Commissioner who is focused solely on serving the public and will devote his full attention and energy to this crucial office; I am that person. I will not use this office as a stepping-stone to another position, and, if elected, will serve no more than two terms.

Sid Miller

Age: 58

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Farming/Ranching, Nurseryman

City: Stephenville

Campaign phone number: (254) 968-3535

Campaign email address: millerfortexas@gmail.com

Web site: www.MillerForTexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: AA, Cisco Junior College - Graduated with Honors. Vocational Agriculture, B.S. - Tarleton State University - Graduated with Honors. I am the only candidate in this race with a degree in agriculture.

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Board Member, Choices Clinic and Life Resource Center, Elder, Cowboy Church of Erath County, Life-time Member, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Honorary Vice President, American Quarter Horse Association, Member, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser Association, Member, Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, Member, Tarleton State University Alumni Academic Forum, Board of Directors, Erath County Farm Bureau, Board Member and President, Dublin Farmers Peanut Cooperative, Area Chairman, Ducks Unlimited, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock, Chairman, House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, Member, Agriculture Policy Board for the State of Texas, Chairman, House Republican Caucus, Republican House Freshman of the Year, Texas Representative, State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Association, Texas Representative, Agriculture Policy for American Legislative Exchange Council, Board of Directors, Stephenville Chamber of Commerce

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I am running to be your next Agriculture Commissioner because agriculture is vital for continued success in the Great State of Texas. The Texas Department of Agriculture is one of the largest agencies in state government and needs to be led by someone who has an agriculture background, business credentials, and a proven record of fighting for every-day citizens in Austin. I was born and raised in Texas Agriculture. As a fourth generation Texas farmer and rancher I have the most extensive background in this field than any other candidate seeking this post. As a Nurseryman and a farming and ranching business owner, I have the experience of balancing budgets, cutting waste, and effectively managing a full-time working business. I have made my living off the land for 58 years, and I'm 58 years strong in Texas Agriculture. My entire life has been vested in the promotion of Texas Agriculture and I will work hard to promote Texas Agriculture world-wide.

As a former rural School Board Member, Ag Teacher, and a six term veteran of the Texas House of Representatives I have a proven record of standing up for Texas citizens against the encroachment of big government. I've authored numerous pieces of legislation that have supported our veterans, restored local control, and downsized the size of the state government. As Chairman of the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee I have had direct oversight over the Agriculture Commissioner and the inter-working details of the Department. During my tenure in the Texas House I also served as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Public Safety committee, which centered my energy in establishing Texas' security and effective solutions to the serious threat on our border. Out of all the candidates in this race, I am the proven conservative champion with a realistic, out in the pasture background in Texas Agriculture and I would be humbled to carry your prayers, support, and votes in the upcoming election for Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? With the serious issue of both short term drought and long-term demand on our precious water resources, my administration's objective will be to focus on protecting and preserving these resources and in educating Texans about the appropriate use of water and defending Texas agriculturalists from the illegitimate, bloated, intrusive, and overreaching actions being taken against them by the Obama Administration. As the former Chairman of Homeland Security and Public Safety in the Texas House of Representatives, I will also take every step necessary and available to secure the Texas border. As the average age of the Texas farmer and rancher is around 60 years old, I will continuously promote careers in agriculture fields across Texas to keep our future invested in the continuance of Texas Agriculture.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? No, the length of your terms in office is determined at the ballot box.

Eric Opiela

Age: 35

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Rancher / Attorney

City: Karnes City

Campaign phone number: 512-590-2289

Campaign email address: hampton@ericopiela.com

Web site: http://www.ericopiela.com

Education background, including all degrees: BA, University of Texas at Austin; JD University of Texas School of Law

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: I have just concluded my third term as President of Karnes City Independent School District Education Foundation, and have led efforts to partner with our local community colleges to develop vocational and workplace training for our students so they’re ready to enter the work force with a high school diploma. As Chairman of the Eminent Domain Committee of the South Texans’ Property Rights Association, I’ve worked with agriculture groups and landowners to promote property rights and, when necessary, defeat bad legislation in Austin. As Associate General Counsel of the Republican Party of Texas, I’ve devoted thousands of hours in pro bono representation of Republican candidates and officeholders, state and county party organizations, and statewide pro-life organizations. I currently am in my second term representing Senate District 21 on the State Republican Executive Committee, where I chair the Committee on Resolutions. During my service on the SREC, we have converted many counties, including Atascosa, Bee, Caldwell, San Patricio, and Nueces, in South Texas, from majority Democrat to majority Republican. From 2008-2009, I served as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas, working to build a supermajority in the Texas Legislature, as well as focusing on developing the party in rural Texas and flipping traditional Democrat counties by promoting a conservative agenda. I’ve also served as Chair of the Karnes County Republican Party and still serve on the State Republican Executive Committee for Senate District 21. In 2004-2006 I was in the Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Program Class IX, and ever since have contributed to the education of the next generation of agricultural leaders in Texas by giving lectures to successive TALL classes as well as the San Antonio Livestock Exposition's Leadership Extension program. I’m a published author and lecturer on Texas Water Law. My legal education and professional career has been devoted to protecting private property rights, including landowners’ water rights.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? The position of Agriculture Commissioner is not just an office to hold; it is critically important that our next Agriculture Commissioner be equipped to actually address the big-ticket items facing Texas Agriculture and our State. I am uniquely qualified among the candidates for Agriculture Commissioner to handle the most important issue facing this office-ensuring that we have adequate water resources and manage them effectively.

I am the fifth generation of my family who grew up ranching in South Texas, and I was raised on the 2,300 acre cow-calf operation I currently run. Before the drought, we could run upwards of 500 head of cattle, now we’re down to 200 due to the water shortage. I not only have experience dealing with water issues as an agricultural producer, but I am also the only candidate for Agriculture Commissioner who has actually represented Texas landowners in water rights, property rights, Endangered Species Act, and Clean Water Act issues. My experience directly translates to the work the Texas Department of Agriculture must do to take back management of our rivers, streams, and surface waters from federal management. Texas must be permitted to manage and develop our water resources effectively to meet the needs of our population and economy. We must also work to protect our property rights in unwithdrawn groundwater; you need an expert on water, and no other candidate has the depth and breadth of experience on this issue that I have.

I hold a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Texas. I clerked at the United States Court of Federal Claims—the nation’s only court for holding federal agencies responsible for takings of private property for public use without just compensation.

I also have been a leader in agriculture. Through the San Antonio Livestock Exposition’s Leadership Extension and Texas A&M’s Agrilife Extension, where I was named as a Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leader, I taught ag leaders how to accomplish objectives at the state capitol. My legislative experience began over a decade ago as counsel to former Rep. Robert Talton (R-Pasadena). I have not only run a major House committee, but have also accomplished important legislative successes as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas, as its’ Associate General Counsel and as chair of the South Texans’ Private Property Rights Association. I have also been a grassroots Conservative leader, putting our Party’s principles into action as a County Chairman, SREC member, and more over the last decade. No other candidate has the unique combination of agricultural, legislative and legal experience necessary to be an effective Agriculture Commissioner.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Water, reforming our school lunch program administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture, and immigration are the top three issues facing this office. I am running for this office because we need a statewide leader who will protect our private property rights while making water more available and managing it better. No other candidate has the skills and experience to accomplish this. We also have to reform the Direct Nutrition Assistance programs administered by TDA, the largest of which is our school breakfast and lunch program, clocking in at $1.9 billion in spending, and an additional $500 million in administrative overhead. To put this in perspective, the remaining budget of TDA is a little over half a billion dollars. One of the other candidates, when serving as Agriculture Chair in the Texas House, authored the legislation that brought this program to TDA. He also called for its expansion to provide both free breakfasts and summer feeding—two moves which greatly expanded administrative overhead while having little impact on utilization. Rather than support expansion of this program as other candidates do, I will use my management experience to reduce overhead, and redirect these dollars to provide more nutritious Texas-grown meals for our children. The conservative principle of personal responsibility and parents providing for their children’s nutrition should be restored.

Lastly, we must have an Agriculture Commissioner dedicated to helping solve our state’s border security and immigration problem. The two former legislators running both supported the shift of higher education costs for illegal immigrants to the backs of legal Texas residents. The other candidate running testified before Congress against workplace verification of immigration status for employment. Both positions increase the incentive for illegal immigration into our state. I have seen firsthand the detrimental impact of illegal immigration on rural communities through rising social services costs, and increased danger farmers and ranchers in South and West Texas face from smugglers. I will work to secure our border by providing support to local law enforcement with TDA’s CDBG funding, and rather than turning a blind eye to market-distorting illegal labor as the other candidates have, I will work to reform our legal agricultural visa system using my close relationship with our Texas Republican Congressional Delegation. Agriculture must have strong legal workforce regulations that do not include amnesty or even the status quo, which is a de-facto amnesty, so that qualified workers can come to Texas to work and then return home, rather than current policy which incentivizes wholesale, permanent migration of families. We also must protect the border at the border, rather than 100 miles inland where rural residents are placed in danger from smugglers.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? No. I am seeking to serve as our next Agriculture Commissioner to help solve our state’s water problem—the number one issue impacting the future of Texas Agriculture. If history is any guide, this will not be accomplished in one term—we face a long-term crisis with regard to water, that will take multiple legislative sessions to solve. However, when the job is done, I am a firm believer in stepping aside, and returning to the private sector. Public service should be just that—serving where you can make a difference, accomplishing the goals you and the voters set out to accomplish, then allowing fresh blood to serve where they can best contribute.

Democrats

Richard “Kinky” Friedman

Age 69

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Author, Singer/Songwriter, Owner/Founder Utopia Rescue

City: Medina

Campaign phone number: Rania Batrice 512-968-2818

Campaign email address: rbatrice@texasforkinky.com

Web site: texasforkinky.com

Education background, including all degrees: Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas, Austin

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Aside from the work I have done through my own animal rescue ranch, Utopia Rescue, I have worked with many organizations over a countless number of years on the rescue and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned animals. Furthermore, my organization has taken the rescue process a step further and incorporated animal therapy with a number of groups including troubled teens and returning combat soldiers.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I believe the re-introduction of hemp into Texas agriculture will prove to be a revolution in our agribusiness. Hemp uses half the water of cotton, produces two and a half times the comparable fiber, and it requires no pesticides whatsoever (cotton uses 25% of the world's total pesticides-another avenue of greater profit). Further, taxation on personal use of hemp/marijuana can be used to fund and improve our education system and a myriad of health care programs. Additionally, an end to prohibition will realize an estimated one-quarter to one-third reduction of border problems as well as an enormous reduction in Texas' prison population.

We also need to multiply our water harvesting capabilities by ten. Water harvesting is the only truly sustainable water management tool we have right now. State or executive level management of harvesting policy needs to be put in place. The logical oversight office would, again, be the Agriculture Commission. We also need to continue the development of desalination plants throughout the state. The deeper brackish waters that lie below our current, fresh groundwater sources are eminently recoverable. Texas must also encourage further research into better desalination processes, should the time come that the state needs to look to the Gulf of Mexico as a water source.

Texas needs to take a long, hard look at its overall water policies. Texas is the only western arid state that still relies on rule of capture in deciding water rights. This has not only put all of our water reserves at risk, especially in these times of drought, it has created a massive logjam of conflicting water rights suits in our courts. All of the various water districts that are now in conflict with each other need to be sewn together and put under one executive-level ruling body.

Texas has an opportunity to turn an important corner and lead on some very important issues both statewide, nationally, and internationally. But it's going to take someone who doesn't fall into the status quo and someone who isn't afraid to take on tough issues. I truly believe that someone is me.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? I have a plan to reinvigorate Texas agriculture and water conservation at their most basic levels. I have no personal or hidden agenda and no desire to use this office as a stepping-stone to another post. I truly believe that there is more that unites us than divides us, and securing our state's future is something we can all agree upon. I seek to strike an unattained balance between water conservation, environmental preservation, and agribusiness, something no other candidate offers.

I believe the re-introduction of hemp into Texas agriculture will prove to be a revolution in our agribusiness. Hemp uses half the water of cotton, produces two and a half times the comparable fiber, and it requires no pesticides whatsoever (cotton uses 25% of the world's total pesticides-another avenue of greater profit). Further, taxation on personal use of hemp/marijuana can be used to fund and improve our education system and a myriad of health care programs. Additionally, an end to prohibition will realize an estimated one-quarter to one-third reduction of border problems as well as an enormous reduction in Texas' prison population.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Too many politicians use the office of Agriculture Commissioner as a stepping stone to higher political office. I not only will not be partaking in this unfortunate scheme I will also plan on only serve one term, should I be elected to this office.

Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III

Age: 59

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Bison rancher and honey producer

City: San Antonio

Campaign phone number: 210-930-0841

Campaign email address: hughfortexas.com

Web site: hughfortexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: BA Trinity Univ. History, MA History UTSA

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Board member Wintergarden Water Conservation District. Board member American Grassfed Assoc.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I have been a teacher and a bison rancher, learning through experience what it takes to vertically integrate a company and make it successful. Being a board member on our local GCD has given me an education on water issues that will be crucial for the office of Ag. Comm.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Water conservation, improving the nutrition of our school children, and immigration.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Yes. I will only be serving one term.

Jim Hogan

No reply

Railroad Commissioner

Republicans

Becky Berger

No reply

Malachi Boyuls

Age: 34

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Co-Owner of St. Augustine Partners, Oil and Gas Business based in Fort Worth.

City: Dallas

Campaign phone number: 972-584-7447

Campaign email address: info@malachifortexas.com

Web site: www.malachifortexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: B.A. Religion University of Mary Hardin-Baylor; J.D. New York University

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Member of the Republican Party of Texas’ Finance Committee under Chairman Steve Munisteri, Vice Chair of Dallas County Republican Party’s Finance Committee under Chairman Wade Emmert, Board Member of Brighter Dallas, Member of the Richardson ISD Budget Committee, previously mentored at-risk elementary-aged children, advisory board member for the Dallas County Youth Advocate Program, Inaugural member of the SMU Maguire Energy Institute's Dallas Council, Board Member and Budget Committee Chair at Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office?

Oil and Gas business experience: as a small business owner in the Oil and Gas space, I am intimately familiar with the impact the Railroad Commission’s regulation has on economic growth, job growth, and capital investment decisions. I have created jobs and have invested in our Texas economy and understand the regulatory environment that, first, protects Texans, and, second, ensures the Texas oil and gas industry continues to drive an even stronger economy and lead this country to energy independence. Our business has also allowed me to participate in a variety of aspects of the industry, from drilling wells to owning mineral and royalties. As a mineral owner, I understand the value of private property rights and continued development of our resources. Finally, we have done work all across the country, and I have seen the impact other states’ regulatory regimes has on their respective economies. I know what it takes to protect Texans and allow continued job growth and economic success in this state.

Regulatory law experience: prior to starting an oil and gas business, I was a regulatory attorney at one of the world’s top law firms, fighting federal overreach and the EPA on behalf on business and jobs, including Texas jobs. For example, I successfully represented one of our state’s largest coal producers and power generators against the EPA’s unjust enforcement of the Clean Air Act. In addition to filing lawsuits against the EPA and other Federal agencies, I have experience with the rule-making process and fighting agencies through their own internal processes. This is more than a political talking point – it is about a fundamental difference in governing philosophies. Texas has regulated energy production longer and better than anyone in this country, and we believe Texas is imminently better suited than the federal government to regulate Texas energy.

In order to ensure Texas continues to regulate Texas energy development, we have to understand and anticipate incremental steps career bureaucrats may take to get a foothold through seemingly innocuous, tedious rulemaking. I have experience participating in that process, and succeeded in thwarting Federal Government activity. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, I have actual experience regulating an industry. As a gubernatorial appointee to a Texas agency, I helped direct a staff of government employees, set policy for an industry in Texas, and participated in the complex rulemaking process. As the Chair of the Budget Committee, I also managed the budget and worked to protect Texans’ tax dollars by moving the agency from one wholly dependent on general revenue, to a semi-independent agency responsible for its own budget – a budget funded by the industry we regulated. I fought to create an efficient agency in order to ensure we were good stewards of our resources did not unnecessarily burden an industry with fees. In fact, we were able to cut fees in the process. Finally, as a member of the board, we oversaw technological upgrades to create further efficiencies – something the Railroad Commission will be doing over the course of the next few years.

Judicial Experience: in law school I was fortunate to work with now-Justice Alito, who reinforced in me the value of the Constitution, the rule of law, and limited government; I saw those principles applied to a variety of circumstances. After law school I worked for a federal district court judge and a federal appeals court judge, where those values were further reinforced. I learned how to find solutions to extremely complex issues while staying true to those principles. This experience positions me well to exercise the Railroad Commission’s quasi-judicial functions, such as rate setting, and deciding disputes between parties. It also positions me well to address and solve difficult and complex issues that might arise, such as eminent domain, property rights, and any other complex issue we have not yet anticipated. Additionally, I was a part of numerous cases involving the EPA and the current administration, which was a truly unique opportunity to witness first hand the tactics employed against business and the free market, as well as the decision making process employed by judges and courts when faced with those tactics. This experience, coupled with my business and regulatory experience, uniquely prepares me to serve Texas on the Railroad Commission.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address?

Agency Efficiency: over the past several years, the RRC has gone from a staff of about 1200 to one of about 740, and technology has not been upgraded for over a decade. During that same time, the oil and gas industry has experienced a meteoric rise and has become one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world. As a result, the commission’s resources have been strained, and backlogs have occurred for certain permits and reports. To ensure the industry continues to create jobs and invest billions of dollars into our economy – as well as lead us to energy independence – we need to increase efficiencies at the commission. This will require implementing new technologies at the commission (currently underway), attracting and retaining highly qualified staff, and providing leadership and vision from the commissioners. On this last point, when commissioners are engaged in the regulatory process, they can direct efforts of staff to focus on specific bottlenecks. Perhaps more importantly, commissioners can guide the regulatory process by engaging staff early in the process to find efficient solutions to problems rather than wait until a solution is proposed (that could be harmful for continued growth) and then work to overrule staff and start over from scratch. With respect to the first two points, I would use my experience in the private sector to run the commission more like a business. Additionally, as a former appointee by Governor Perry to a state agency, I have the experience managing a government staff and budget, as well as overseeing the agency’s technological upgrades. And as the Budget Committee Chair, I oversaw the process of moving the agency to a semi independent, self-directed agency that was funded by the industry we regulated rather than general revenue. We were able to save taxpayer money as well as reduce fees in the process. I can go to work at the RRC on day one, which is why I am the only candidate in this race to have been endorsed by a former Railroad Commissioner – three have endorsed my campaign.

Sunset Review: the RRC has been under sunset review for the past two sessions and will undergo sunset again in four years. In 2011 we were dangerously close to losing the RRC – the oldest agency in Texas and gold standard in energy regulation –, which could have been devastating to an industry that is driving our strong economy and leading the energy renaissance in this country. It is imperative that the next Commissioner works to repair the relationship with the legislature and help guide the RRC through sunset. As a former board member of a state agency, I have been through the sunset process and am familiar with the process. Moreover, I am proud to be endorsed by multiple members of the current Sunset Commission, as well as multiple other current members, and will commit myself to working with the legislature to resolve all remaining issues and get the RRC out of Sunset review.

Fight for Texas: Although broadly categorized, this entails keeping the federal government out of energy regulation in Texas and assuring the citizens of Texas that the Commission is working for their best interest. On the first issue, the federal government – the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service specifically – are working to regulate, or simply disrupt, the production of oil, gas, and coal in Texas. Whether it’s methane emissions in North Texas, the pressurization of oil fields in East Texas, or using a chicken and a lizard in West Texas to halt production (in the second largest oil field in the world), it is no secret that the Federal Government has been and could be a thorn in the side of this industry; its attack on the coal industry is more overt. The need to keep the federal government out of Texas is more than a political talking point – it is important to ensure the continued development of our resources and economic success of this state. These agencies have throughout the years shown hostility toward the development of fossil fuels, which of course could be devastating for Texas. Moreover, multiple layers of regulation (state and federal) add significant costs and inefficiencies and could hurt economic growth.

Finally, Texas’s resource plays are geographically diverse and the regulations must be tailored to ensure protection of Texans as well as maximal resource development. Texas knows what’s best for Texas and has been doing it longer and better than anyone – we, not the federal government, have the expertise to ensure we do what’s best for Texas. As a former regulatory attorney, I often represented Texas industries against federal agencies, including the EPA. I represented one of the state’s largest coal producers against the EPA in its attempt to enforce the Clean Air Act, which would have killed thousands of jobs in Texas and threatened energy reliability in this state. We were successful in defeating the EPA’s potential harmful overreach. Regarding the second part of this answer, the RRC must ensure that Texans know and believe that the RRC is working for their best interest first. Commissioners are elected to serve Texans and must work to protect their health and safety, as well as property rights, etc. Often times the interests of the industry and the interests of Texas align. But when they do not, Texans’ interests must come first. Having formerly worked with now Supreme Court Justice Alito, as well as other federal judges, I have the experience and track record of addressing very complex issues and finding solutions that protect the rights of Americans, and Texans specifically. I am proud to be endorsed by a number of grassroots groups across the state, as well as groups like Farm Bureau, Texas Cattle Raisers, and more.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I plan to serve two terms – 12 years. Let me say at the outset that I do not come down firmly on one side of the term-limit debate or the other. I am a firm believer, however, that new leaders and fresh perspectives are a good for governing. Our forefathers never envisioned citizens running for office and staying in office for 20+ years, not to mention spending millions of dollars to get there. Public service was a service – a sacrifice – and elected officials understood that they worked for the people. I think it is important that elected officials today remain connected to the people they serve and understand for whom they work. Term limits could further that end. Therefore, if voters and the legislature thought term limits were necessary, I would support it. But I believe voters today already have the authority to term-limit officials to whom they feel no longer connected, and voters have exercised this power more and more over the last several years. The prospect of losing one’s office should ensure elected officials remain connected to the people they serve.

Wayne Christian

No reply

Ryan Sitton

No reply

Democrats

Steve Brown

Age: 38

Occupation: Director, Small Business Initiatives- Metropolitan Transit Authority

City: Missouri City

Campaign phone number: 832-330-4242

Website: Electstevebrown.com

Education Background: North Carolina A&T University, BA1997

Highlights of your past and civic involvement: Immediate Past Chair- Fort Bend County Democratic Party. 2010

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I believe my extensive experience working in and around government makes me uniquely qualified to serve as Railroad Commissioner. I’ve worked as a White House Intern, as a budget aide for a Texas State Representative, a Vice President for the American Heart Association, and now as the Director of Small Business Initiatives for METRO. I also spent the past few years serving as Democratic Party Chair in one of the most diverse counties in the entire country.

My ability to work together with many different folks, my skills and knowledge in Texas government, and my willingness to find new, innovative solutions will serve me well as Railroad Commissioner.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? The Railroad Commission must be modernized and reformed. By the end of the year, Texas will be the 8th largest oil producing country. This is because of pioneering techniques that have changed the oil and gas industry.

Unfortunately the Railroad Commission is trying to oversee a 21st century industry with a 20th century mindset. That needs to change.

I will also work to create an Office of Public Advocacy within the Railroad Commission. The office will serve as a watchdog for citizens with grievances before the commission, and can assist them during the hearing process.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? The Railroad Commission is unique in that commissioners serve for as long as US Senators- six years. For years now, however, the Railroad Commission has been used as a stepping-stone by Republican officials to another office. I think this job needs more continuity with Commissioners actually serving a full term for once.

Dale Henry

No reply

Supreme Court Chief Justice

Republicans

Nathan Hecht (i)

Age: 64

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court

City: Austin

Campaign phone number: 512-477-7722

Campaign email address: campaign@justicenathanhecht.com

Web site: justicenathanhecht.com

Education background, including all degrees: B.A. Yale University (honors in philosophy); J.D. SMU School of Law cum laude

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Chief Justice and Justice, Texas Supreme Court; Justice, Dallas Court of Appeals; Judge, 95th District Court; elder, teacher, and pianist for Cornerstone Christian Church in Dallas

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I have been a trial judge and a judge of the intermediate appellate court, and I am the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court in history. I have proven experience in leading the Court, in trying to reduce the costs and delays in going to court, and in trying to assure that access to the justice system is available to all Texans. I have been endorsed by Governor Perry, by both Senators John Cornyn Ted Cruz, by ten of my former colleagues, and my numerous civic, business, professional, and political groups.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? One important priority is developing rules to streamline court procedures, reducing the expense and delay of going to court. I am working with judges and legislators to achieve this, as well as other chief justices across the country. Another priority is assuring that the justice system is not so expensive that it is beyond the reach of ordinary Texans and those with limited means, such as veterans, the elderly, and families.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? It is important that judges have experience doing their jobs, and term limits hamper that. I do not plan to serve more than two terms.

Robert Talton

Age 68

Occupation and/or your main source of income: I am an attorney and it is my main source of income.

City: Pasadena

Campaign phone number: (832) 628-0121

Campaign email address: taltonfortexas@gmail.com

Web site: www.TaltonForChiefJustice.com

Education background, including all degrees: Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Houston in 1971;Juris Doctor from South Texas College of Law in 1976

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Currently, I serve as General Counsel for the Harris County Republican Party and as Vice Chair of Deacons at Sagemont Church, Houston. In the past, I served sixteen years as a State Representative, a member of my chamber of commerce and the Pasadena Rotary Club.

Issues and qualifications:

· Jury Trials are being reversed over 74% of the time.

· There is presently a cloud over the Texas Supreme Court because of the long running ethics case against the current Chief Justice.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office?I meet the qualification of the Texas Constitution under Article 5 Section 2. I also have practiced law for 37 years. I have been a policeman, prosecutor and judge. I have served in the Texas Legislature as a State Representative for sixteen years.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? I would like to return the Court to a fair, impartial and independent body. Anytime 74% of jury trials are reversed, there is a problem. I plan to address that.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? No more than two. I believe in reasonable term limits.

Supreme Court Justice, Place 6

Republicans

Jeff Brown (i)

Age: 43

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Justice, Supreme Court of Texas

City: Houston

Campaign phone number: (512) 583-7131

Campaign email address: Info@JusticeJeffBrown.com

Web site:www.JusticeJeffBrown.com

Education background, including all degrees: Bachelor of Arts in English, University of Texas at Austin, 1992; Doctor of Jurisprudence, magna cum laude, University of Houston Law Center, 1995

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Named Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, 2008; Named One of Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Jaycees, 2006; Member, Board of Trustees, Bellaire United Methodist Church; Member, Board of Directors, Texas Lyceum; Member, Board of Directors, Christian Community Service Center; Graduate, Leadership Houston, Class XVIII; Cubmaster, Committee Chairman, and Den Leader, Active volunteer, Boy Scouts of America; Coach for various youth baseball, soccer, and football teams

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I have the most relevant experience, and my conservative judicial philosophy fits best with what most Texans are looking for in a Supreme Court justice. The Supreme Court of Texas is the highest court in the state for civil matters. After clerking at the Court in my first year out of law school, I practiced civil litigation at one of the state's largest and finest law firms, trying civil cases to judges and juries across Southeast Texas, enabling me to become board-certified in civil trial law. I then served six years as a civil-district judge in the state's most populous county, and then nearly six more years as an appellate justice at the intermediate court-of-appeals level before coming to the Supreme Court of Texas. Along the way, I earned top marks in the bar polls and received three judge-of-the-year awards, including one for Appellate Judge of the Year from the Texas Association of Civil Trial & Appellate Specialists. No other candidate in this race has such a breadth of experience trying and judging civil cases. I am a proven jurist, a proven judicial conservative, and am devoted to the rule of law, my family, my faith, and the traditional values that Texans hold dear.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? N/A

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? N/A

Joe Pool

Age: 58

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Oil & Gas Company General Counsel, Trans Texas Holdings Corp. General Counsel

City: Dripping Springs

Campaign phone number: 512-894-4300

Campaign email address: joepoolforsupremecourt@gmail.com

Web site: www.poolfortexas.com & www.standwithpool.com

Education background, including all degrees: UT Undergrad BA in Government w Honors 1977; UT Law School Doctor of Jurisprudence 1980; UT McCombs School of Business MPA Program; Admitted to Texas Bar 1980; Admitted to US Tax Court 1982; Admitted to US Northern District 1986; Admitted to Western District 2012

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: I was General Counsel to Dripping Springs Water Supply Corporation. I am still involved attending meetings and helping out where I can on a Pro Bono basis. I have contributed my representation to numerous charitable organizations including the Austin School Of Film and Media In Motion. Leslie and I have donated the use of our 76 acres ranch for many charitable events and fundraisers. Every month on a pro bono basis I donate 10 hours advising & counseling Texans on their constitutional and civil rights. Years ago I coached adult men and women soccer teams in the Austin City League. More recently I coached my 2 sons’ basketball, baseball and soccer teams. Our family has been a member of Tarrytown United Methodist Church for 25 years. Last Election cycle I ran for Supreme Court Place 4. I took 29% of the statewide Republican primary vote. In the runoff I endorsed the most constitutional candidate and delivered my 29% through 25 speeches across the state at my own expense.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? Providence has brought me to run for this office. An Obama democrat probate judge denied my wife’s Texas constitutional right to a trial by Jury (Art.1.Sec.15), then Denied my wife’s and my constitutional right to not be excessively fined (Art1.Sec.13.). Over $100,000.00 in multiple fines imposed upon Leslie and myself for contesting a will & asking for a jury. The burden of proving the will as valid was on the sister-in-law and third spouse of Leslie’s father. The will itself was attested to by 3 witnesses as having 5 above pages but only 2 above pages were filed. . At the 3rd Court of Appeals Leslie was excessively fined $30,000.00 (Art1.Sec.13. & Art.1.Sec.29. Violation) for appealing. The Supreme Court Of Texas approved all of these excessive fines and summary judgment denials of jury trials. This is the judicial lawsuit reform the incumbents on the Texas Supreme Court embrace. I have never met Wendy Davis nor had my picture taken with her as our appointed incumbent Brown shows.

Nothing can be done to correct what happened to my wife in the Obama Democrat’s Probate Court as approved by our Texas Supreme Court, but what I can do, is make damn sure it does not happen to you.

Our service men and women need to know we are fighting for their constitutional rights domestically as they fight in foreign lands.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Our economic prosperity has diminished as our Texas Supreme Court has diminished the civil right of trial by jury. ( I have spreadsheet attached which shows Texas jobs decline during 74% Overturned jury verdicts - Judicial Lawsuit Reform 2001-2011) No other country in the world has a civil right to trial by jury. All of our great inventors, entrepreneurs and job creators risked their paychecks knowing when “It” hits the fan they could rely upon 12 of their neighbors showing up to protect their property rights.

Art.1.Sec.15. of our Texas Constitution states, “The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.” Since 2000 74% of all jury verdicts reviewed by our Texas Supreme Court have been overturned, reversed. This is not conservative, not constitutional and does a disservice to our service men and women defending our constitutions in harm’s way.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? No. All judges in Texas take an oath before they serve to preserve and protect the Constitutions of both the United States and Texas. I support the electing of judges as the constitution of Texas mandates. We as voters need to be more vigilant in preventing Judicial Lawsuit Reformers from being elected. All of the current incumbents on the Texas Supreme Court have taken contributions from Texans For Lawsuit Reform. Lawsuit reform pursuant to our constitutions happens in our legislature and not in our judiciary.

Supreme Court Justice, Place 8

Republicans

Phil Johnson (i)

No reply

Sharon McCally

Age: 53

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Justice, Fourteenth Court of Appeals

City: Houston

Campaign phone number: 713.858.0239

Campaign email address: 12010 Tall Oaks, Houston, Texas 77024

Web site: www.judgemccallyforjustice.com

Education background, including all degrees: The Hockaday School, High School Diploma; BA English, Southern Methodist University; JD, South Texas College of Law.

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Women of Rotary, SPCA, American Diabetes Association, Meals on Wheels.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? Unlike my opponent, I am a native Texan. Born to Fort Worth sweethearts, I was raised in the Dallas area. I attended The Hockaday School and SMU before working in the family construction company (The McCally Company) for seven years. When my father retired, I moved to Houston to go to South Texas College of Law. I spent two years as a federal law clerk and then another 15 years in private practice, focused mainly on appeals.

In 2004, Harris County citizens elected me to the 334th Civil District Court. They reelected me in 2008. In 2009, the Trial and Appellate Specialists named me Trial Judge of the Year. In 2010, Texas citizens elected me to the Fourteenth Court of Appeals where I currently sit as a Justice.

I am running because I believe we need a fresh perspective at the Texas Supreme Court and greater representation for the voice of women. Seven of the current nine members of the court are Governor Perry appointees and seven are men. I will bring a renewed Constitutional restraint to this court and a variation of voice to the dialog on State law and policy.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? Voters should choose me because I have the broader base of experience for a balanced perspective. Specifically, I worked in business before I went to law school. Since law school, I have worked as a trial attorney for both plaintiff and defense, an appellate attorney for both plaintiff and defense. Unlike my opponent, I served as a trial judge before becoming an appellate judge. I have worked in state courts and federal courts; with state law; federal and administrative law; civil matters and criminal matters. I have specialized in writing and oral argument at all of these levels. With this well-rounded perspective, I better understand the process and my Constitutionally-limited role in it.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? I plan to urge my colleagues to observe the Constitutional restraint on our review of cases. I plan to urge my colleagues to be timely in their resolution of cases and more accountable in their use of taxpayer dollars on the administration of justice.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? At 53 years old, I do not foresee asking Texas citizens to elect me to more than two six-year terms; Justices serve at the will of Texas citizens. No, because we have mandatory retirement.

Court of Criminal Appeals Justice, Place 3

Republicans

Bert Richardson

Age: 57

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Senior Judge 3rd, 4th & 6th Administrative Regions, Adjunct Law Professor St. Mary’s Law School, Of Counsel LM Tatum PLLC

City: San Antonio

Campaign phone number: (210) 264-1710

Campaign email address: judgebert379@satx.rr.com

Web site: http://electjudgerichardson.com/, https://www.facebook.com/JudgeBertRichardson

Education background, including all degrees: BYU, B.S., 1982; St. Mary’s Law School, J.D., 1987

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: University and Local College Instructor 1995 to present. Frequent mentor of local college and high school students (including current State Bar President). National Mock Trial Judge for Annual Competition sponsored by St. Mary’s University. Staff Photographer - Inside Texas Running & Texas Runner Triathlete. Contributing photographer – State Bar Journal, ESPN/Dyestat, Letsrun.com, Runnerspace.com. Active in local church congregation, as teacher and public affairs committee member. Pro bono assistance in 2004 & 2008 to San Antonio/New Zealand Olympian.

Guest Lecture UTHSC Department of Psychiatry on Expert Witness Testimony. Lecturer San Antonio Police Department Academy. Lecturer NISD Alternative Schools. Active in Booster Club and Sports Programs, including school sports photographer at Ronald Reagan High School 2002-2006. Assistant Photo Editor Yearbook BYU 1981-82. Church Mission to Argentina 1976-1978.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I am the only candidate for this position that is Board Certified in Criminal Law (less than 2% of lawyers are certified in this area). The Court of Criminal Appeals has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all death penalty cases. I have significant experience in death penalty litigation as a prosecutor and judge both at the trial level and post conviction level. I also have significant appellate experience at the State and federal level. As an elected judge in Bexar County I was consistently ranked at the top of local Bar Polls for knowledge of the law, work ethic and judicial demeanor. As a Senior Judge I receive a steady stream of judicial assignments for routine matters (both civil and criminal) and high profile cases across the State and have worked in over 40 counties in the last 5 years. As a judge I have never had a trial verdict reversed by an appellate court. I have taught law related classes at local colleges & St. Mary’s Law School for over 15 years.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address?

1. Significant changes in scientific evidence in many areas that have exonerated several wrongfully convicted defendants. The TCCA promulgates rules of evidence for criminal trials and those rules should address these changes and the admissibility of such evidence

2. Online filing of briefs and records to that court. Most appellate courts across the State have implemented this and I would work to do that at the TCCA.

3. Legislative changes in discovery rules, in light of the Michael Morton Act and exoneration. One way to do that would be to educate judges on these changes and the obligation the State has to turn over specific information to the defense. The TCCA administers funds that educate judges.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? At my current age I don’t believe I would serve more than 2 terms (this is a 6 year term). I believe term limits should be decided by the voting public, but I don’t believe it would be in the best interests of the justice system to place those limits on judges.

Barbara Walther

No reply

Court of Criminal Appeals Justice, Place 4

Republicans

Richard Dean Davis

No reply

Jani Jo Wood

Age: 50

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Assistant Public Defender, Harris County, Texas; Adjunct Professor, University of Houston Law Center

City: Kingwood

Campaign phone number: 512-720-1926

Campaign email address: janijowood@gmail.com

Web site: www.janijo.com

Education background, including all degrees: University of Houston Law Center. 1994. J.D.; State University of New York at Albany. 1986. M.A., English; North Adams State College (now known as Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts). 1985. B.A., English

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement:

Innocence Project of Texas - Board member

Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association - Board member

- Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year 2013

Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association - Board Member

- Mentor in the Second Chair Program

- Lawyer of the Year 2013

University of Houston Law Center - Student mentor

Houston Bar Association - Member of Criminal Appellate Bench/Bar Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Committee

Star of Hope Homeless Shelter - Volunteer

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I am qualified for this court and currently the Court lacks anyone with my background and experience.

I am the only candidate in my race who is board certified in criminal appellate law. This is a significant achievement involving passing a six hour exam. Not just any lawyer can take the exam; there are several prerequisites. First, you must have handled a certain number of cases and oral arguments. Second, judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys must recommend that you be allowed to even sit for the exam. Finally, a panel reviews your experience and recommendations and determines whether you will be allowed to take the exam. Fewer than 120 Texas attorneys are certified in criminal appellate law.

Currently, seven of the nine judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals are former prosecutors. With my background form the defense perspective, I will provide some much needed balance to a court that is perceived to often turn a deaf ear to the concerns of individual defendants. In these days of Michael Morton and numerous exonerations, a prosecutor has little understanding of what it is to represent an individual and fight for every piece of information that is easily available to the prosecutor.

One of my opponents has been a prosecutor for some 20 years. His experience and perspective is already well represented on the Court.

A key part of being a good Court of Criminal Appeals judge is writing opinions that serve to educate the bar on proper criminal law procedures. Opinions should clarify the law - not make it more murky. As an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center, I have been educating future lawyers for nearly 15 years. Additionally, I frequently teach at the State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course which trains judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.

Significantly, I am the only person in this race with extensive practice in federal court. This is extremely important because many of our state court convictions end up being challenged in federal court. When the Court of Criminal Appeals fails to fully consider every issue, federal courts are left to “guess” at what the Court’s decision was. A judge should always see the end game and write an opinion which will answer any questions the federal court might have.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? If I am elected, I would pursue changes at the Court of Criminal Appeals in the way writs of habeas corpus are handled. The right to a writ of habeas corpus is constitutionally guaranteed by both the United States and Texas Constitutions This is the mechanism by which wrongfully convicted people can be exonerated. Defendants can also receive new trials if their own trial was fundamentally flawed.

Currently, convicted defendants can file one writ of habeas corpus, absent extraordinary circumstances. But the entire court does not consider each writ of habeas corpus. As it stands today, a writ of habeas corpus is only considered by one judge of the court, if relief is going to be denied. It is my belief that all nine judges should participate in each case.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Our law does not provide for term limits, and I am not an advocate for those limits. The Court of Criminal Appeals is highly specialized and handles the most important criminal cases in this state, including all death penalty cases. Experience helps in this hyper-technical arena.

Kevin Yeary

Age: 47

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Appellate Attorney - Assistant Criminal District Attorney – Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.

City: San Antonio

Campaign phone number: (210) 387-1767 (My Cell).

Campaign email address: kpyeary@yahoo.com

Web site: www.yearyforjudge.com

Education background, including all degrees: Ursuline Elementary School – Laredo, Texas; St. Augustine High School – Laredo, Texas; St. Mary’s University – San Antonio, Texas – 1988 B.A. English Communication Arts; St. Mary’s University – San Antonio, Texas – 1991 J.D.

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Texas Bar Association; San Antonio Bar Association; Criminal Courts Committee - Member; Publications Committee – Member; Appellate Section – Secretary; Texas District and County Attorney’s Association; Publications Committee – 2010-2012; Bexar County Republican Party; By-Laws Committee; Encino Park Swim Team; Board Member for at least the last seven years; Head Referee and Stroke and Turn Official; Encino Park Elementary School - Watch-DOGS; Volunteer - 2010-Present; Catholic Lawyers Guild of San Antonio; St. Padre Pio Catholic Church; Lector; Eucharistic Minister; Knights of Columbus - Council 13074; Director of the High School Confirmation Preparation Program - 2005-2010; Director of the Men’s ACTS Retreat 2013.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I have been a licensed attorney for 22 years. I began my career serving as a briefing attorney for a Judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals – 1991-1992. I have practiced law as a defense attorney from 1992 to 1995, during which time I helped overturn a wrongful conviction and represented a number of people accused of crimes. I have been an appellate prosecutor for the last 18 years. I have held the position of appellate prosecutor with the Dallas County DA’s Office, the Harris County DA’s Office and with the Bexar County DA’s Office. I have filed briefs in the Court of Criminal Appeals both as a defense attorney and as a prosecutor. I have practiced before the Court of Criminal Appeals for most of my 22 year career. I have litigated numerous cases in front of the Court of Criminal Appeals and I have presented oral arguments there at least 10 times. I have litigated appeals in most of the appellate courts in this state. I have been lead counsel on well over 400 appeals. I have practiced before and argued before the Texas Supreme Court. I have filed briefs in the United States Supreme Court. I serve as a Commissioner for the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for Criminal Appellate Law (**I am not Board Certified - as a person who writes and grades the exam, I am not eligible to sit for the exam). I have more criminal appellate experience than any other candidate currently seeking a seat on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. All of these experiences have given me a unique perspective that would benefit the Court if I am elected. These experiences also distinguish me from my opponents and demonstrate that I am the most and best qualified candidate for the position I am seeking: Judge, Place 4, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? The Court of Criminal Appeals is not a policy making body. The Legislature writes the law. The Court should simply settle disputes that arise within the law as written by the Legislature. Occasionally, the Court must consider the constitutionality of government actions and of laws passed by the legislature. There are nine Judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals. The nine-member Court oversees the decisions of the 14 intermediate courts of appeals in Texas. I plan to help keep the interpretation of the law in this State consistent and to help provide guidance to the lower courts on the proper interpretation of our laws. I also plan to help the Court of Criminal Appeals make correct decisions on the application of the law to the facts of each case that come before the Court.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I would probably seek a second term. Beyond that, I have not made any decision. I don’t believe that term limits are necessary for the Court, other than the age limit for service on the Court.

Court of Criminal Appeals Justice Place 9

Republicans

David Newell

Age: 42

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Appellate attorney with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office

City: Missouri City

Campaign phone number: 713 – 204 – 7292

Campaign email address: david@newellforjudge.com

Web site: www.newellforjudge.com

Education background, including all degrees: B.A. in English with concentration in creative writing, magna cum laude – University of Houston 1993; J.D. - University of Texas School of Law; (high school diploma, cum laude - William P. Clements High School – 1989)

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: I decided to become a prosecutor after volunteering at the Houston Area Women’s Center answering the Rape Crisis Hotline during college. Since that time, I have been very active in my community through my church and the Exchange Club of Sugar Land, where I served as a Board memberI also repeatedly coordinated the Annual Blue Ribbon School Competition where Fort Bend I.S.D. schools decorated their campuses with blue ribbons and artwork from students to convey messages of hope for an end to child abuse. My wife and I became trained as ChristCare small group leaders (part of the Stephen Ministry program) to help lead intentional small group worship at our church, Southminster Presbyterian. Along with our two boys, we have also volunteered our time with the Houston Food Bank and Keep Sugar Land Beautiful. I have served as both an alternate at-large delegate and an at-large delegate for Senate District 17 at the Texas Republican Convention.

I am currently a member of the Course Planning Committee for this year’s Advanced Criminal Law Course put on by the State Bar of Texas. I was recently awarded the 2013 C. Chris Marshall Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Education of Texas Prosecutors from the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association. At the 2013 State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course, I presented the Court of Criminal Appeals Update highlighting the significant decisions from the most recent term of the Court of Criminal Appeals, and I have been presenting this subject almost continuously since 2007. I also presented the United States Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals Update at the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association Annual Criminal and Civil Law Update, again something I’ve been doing almost continuously since 2007. I served as a faculty advisor at the Matthew Paul Advanced Appellate Skills Course in Waco. I also served as Chair of the Editorial Board for The Texas Prosecutor, the bimonthly newsletter for the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association.

I am a Patron Associate of the Texas Federation of Republican Women as well as an associate member of both the Spirit of Freedom Republican Women and the Texas Tea Party Republican Women. I am also a member of the Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club and the Houston Bar Association. Additionally, my family and I are very active with the Literacy Council of Fort Bend County, and we support the Star of Hope Mission in Houston, Child Advocates of Fort Bend, Parks Youth Ranch, and Fort Bend Junior Service League.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I have been handling criminal appeals for my entire legal career. I started as an unpaid intern at the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office handling appeals of both misdemeanor and felony convictions. Upon being hired there as an Assistant District Attorney, I was assigned to the misdemeanor trial court where I tried misdemeanor cases and volunteered to try felonies, though I continued to handle both criminal and juvenile appeals on a volunteer basis to assist the sole appellate attorney in the office at that time. I did a rotation through the juvenile division before I was promoted to a newly-created position where I handled criminal appeals exclusively. As an appellate prosecutor, I was responsible for responding to criminal appeals including appeals in death penalty cases, pursing appeals on behalf of the State, and seeking discretionary review from the Court of Criminal Appeals. I also handled post-conviction writs including those in death penalty cases and responses for DNA testing. Because the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office also handled CPS cases at the time, I was responsible for handling those appeals as well. In 2007, I accepted a job with the appellate division in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office where I currently work as an appellate prosecutor.

As discussed above, I have lectured extensively upon the significant decisions from the Court of Criminal Appeals. I have been asked to do so not only for the State Bar and the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association, but also for the Texas Association for Appellate Court Attorneys. Similarly, the University of Texas CLE has repeatedly asked me to speak at their Conference on Criminal Appeals put on with the assistance of the Court of Criminal Appeals itself. Moreover, I have written numerous articles analyzing and explaining the significant decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals and the United States Supreme Court for the Texas Prosecutor.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? While I don’t believe that judges should enter office with an agenda, I do think that there are a number of significant issues that are currently facing the Court. Significantly, the Court has wrestled lately with the issue of how to handle new scientific developments that cast doubt upon convictions based upon outdated scientific opinion testimony. With the legislature’s promulgation of Article 11.073, the Court of Criminal Appeals will now have a clear vehicle to decide whether a defendant is entitled to relief. Additionally, technological advancements may require reassessment of privacy standards under the Fourth Amendment as well as the Confrontation Clause jurisprudence under the Sixth Amendment. My priority would be to approach these issues with judicial modesty and restraint to avoid legislating from the bench.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I do not believe that there should be term limits for a judicial office like this one because a body of case law takes time to develop. If elected, I would serve on the Court as long as the citizens would have me.

W.C. “Bud” Kirkendall

Age: 64

Occupation and/or your main source of income: District judge

City: Seguin

Campaign email address: wckirkendall@yahoo.com

Web site: www.judgekfortexas.com

Education background, including all degrees: 1971 B.A., Iowa State University; 1974 J.D. University of Texas School of Law

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Please see my website for details but I have been very active over 40 years including founding chair, Children's Advocacy Center, founding board member, Crisis Pregnancy Center, Public Library Board, founder and long-time president, Seguin Youth Basketball Association, United Fund drive chair, MHMR board, local American Heart Association chair. Very active in First United Methodist Church in both committee work and teaching youth and adult Sunday schools.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I have been a district judge for almost 10 years, an elected district attorney for almost 21 years, and a defense lawyer for 10 years. I worked as a briefing attorney for the Court of Criminal Appeals in 1974-75. I have seen criminal law from every possible aspect.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Many issues will have to be addressed including claims of actual innocence, changes in forensic sciences, changes in law regarding search and seizure and 6th amendment law.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? If elected, I will serve one 6-year term.

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