Here is a look at the contested statewide races on the Nov. 4 ballot in Texas:
Republican Greg Abbott
Occupation and/or main source of income: Attorney General of Texas
City of your residence: Austin, Texas
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: 512-477-2002, http://www.gregabbott.com, email@example.com
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: In addition to my public service, I have a long record of civic involvement and achievement. Among my most important current civic activities is my role on the Board of Advisors for the Darrell K. Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer's, which seeks to make a lasting difference in the fight against Alzheimer's Disease. I served as state chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas, and I have held leadership positions in numerous other organizations, including the Central Texas Chapter of Goodwill Industries, the Governor's Committee to Promote Adoption, Justice for All, and the Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Foundation.
Past public offices you have run for or held: Attorney General of Texas, 2002-Present; Supreme Court of Texas Justice, 1996-2001; Judge of the 129th District Court, 1993-95
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I have had a proven record of making communities safer, protecting children, saving taxpayer dollars, helping single-parent families, opposing heavy-handed federal overreach, and creating an economic environment that grows jobs. As Governor I will increase jobs, improve schools and roads, protect our communities, secure the border, and limit the size of government.
I am an effective leader who has implemented innovative new plans to make Texas better. I elevated the Texas child support system to a #1 national ranking, collecting more than $31 billion for Texas children. I created a Cyber Crimes Unit to arrest criminals who use the Internet to prey upon children; a Fugitive Unit to arrest more than 4,500 convicted sex offenders who violate their parole; and an expanded Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to crack down on elder abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars.
As a husband and father, I understand the importance of preserving Constitutional, traditional values —like faith, family and freedom for future generations. As the state’s chief law enforcement official, I have made protecting children and crime victims the focus of my administration.
My opponent's policies are an extension of President Obama’s big-government-knows best attitude that leads to higher regulation, higher taxes, and lower job growth.
What are your top issues? Texas is the greatest state in the nation, but I believe we can make it even better. I am running for Governor:
1. To protect individual liberty and prosperity by preventing big government policies — like those promulgated in Washington, D.C. - from invading Texas and running people’s lives.
2. To make public education in Texas top-ranked in the country. I will empower parents, teachers, and principals by restoring genuine local control rather than centralized regulations and mandates. High-quality professional development for teachers, leadership training for principals, and digital learning opportunities for students, are critical to building a 21st Century education system.
3. According to the 2015 “Best Colleges” rankings of public universities by U.S. News and World Report, five of the top ten universities are located in California. The University of Texas at Austin is Texas’ highest ranked public university at number seventeen. My goal is ensure that Texas four-year public universities hold five of the top ten spots in future rankings.
4. To create more jobs and keep the Texas economy #1 in the nation by prioritizing schools, roads, and water, not by raising taxes, but by right-sizing government.
5. To keep Texans safe by securing our border and curtailing spillover crime caused by transnational gangs and international drug cartels.
6. To increase funding for roads by over $4 billion without raising new debt, taxes, fees, or tolls.
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 support current Texas Constitution and law, which does not provide for term limits. My position is grounded in my deep respect for all persons eligible to vote, and my belief that citizens should have the ability to exercise the right to vote for the candidates of their choice. In fact, Texas voters and officeholders have acted voluntarily to limit the terms of most officeholders in the absence of controlling law. Indeed, in all but one Texas election cycle since 1923, more than 10 percent of the members of the Texas House have been replaced; the number has often been significantly higher (24.0 percent in 2002, 23.3 percent since 2010).1 Similarly, only one Governor since the 1876 Constitution was enacted has served more than two terms.
Additionally, limiting the terms of public officials would vest more power in lobbyists and career government employees. The Public Policy Institute of California found that the effects of California’s strict legislative term limits passed in 1990 included lesser legislative oversight of the executive branch, reduced budget discipline, and a decline in the Legislature’s research capacity – but no reduction in special interest money or on partisanship. In 2012, California passed a ballot initiative loosening its strict term limits on legislators.
Finally, there were deep disputes between members of the founding generation over term limits. Ultimately, however, term limits were not included in the Constitution — a decision explicitly defended by James Madison in the Federalist Papers. Term limits for the Office of the President were only adopted with the Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution in 1947, and Congress is not subject to term limits.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? Lottery proceeds are dedicated to public education, which is a critical priority of mine. However, the lottery should not be expanded, and I am a skeptic of a state-sanctioned gambling generally. I am eager to see the results of a review of the Texas lottery being conducted by the Texas Legislature as a result of a bill last session. The report is due no later than the end of this year.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? The Attorney General’s Office is currently addressing a request for an opinion on this question;2 there have also been legal challenges recently made against the practice of historical racing.3 As the lawyer for the state and state agencies, my office would be required to defend the Texas Racing Commission if a lawsuit were filed against it. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for me to answer this question.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? I support current Texas policy, which does not allow for casino gambling in Texas. At the height of the most recent recession, casino gambling – as a means to create jobs and generate revenue – was exposed as a tenuous bet. States with legalized casino gambling had much larger budget gaps than did Texas, and states with commercial or Indian casino gambling were in far worse shape economically than Texas. There may be other arguments for casino gambling, but the most recent recession proved the time isn’t right for Texas to go down that path.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? The President properly said that the border situation was a crisis. It is a crisis because the federal government has failed to do its job. Texans are suffering the consequences and deserve more than talk; they deserve action. My response will include increased appropriations for border security spending to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), funding the hiring, training, and deployment of 500 new Troopers, 20 Texas Rangers, and 20 new Criminal Investigations Division (CID) agents; as well as the acquisition of an additional high-altitude aircraft and eight new watercraft.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? I support House Bill 2 (83-2), and as Attorney General, I am currently defending it in court.
What are your priorities for improving Texas’ infrastructure? Texas is adding more than 1,000 people a day to roads that are already too crowded and inadequately maintained. As Governor, I will allocate more than $4 billion annually to transportation projects without raising new debt, taxes, fees, or tolls. Funds are currently being taken from the State Highway Fund to pay for other government agencies. That practice must stop. Instead, money dedicated to roads will be spent on roads. Additionally, part of the motor vehicle sales and use tax should be spent on roads. These are in addition to the funds that may be raised from the transportation proposition, Prop 1 (2014), on the ballot this November. We must build the next generation of water projects that will keep Texas water-secure for decades. That includes working to reduce regulations that impair water development, speed up the water permitting process, and work at the regional level to find the right solutions.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? We must stop fighting yesterday’s political battles and start building a better future for the next generation of students. As Governor, I will begin the process of reinventing and advancing education in Texas from pre-K all the way through college. My plan invests additional funding in education, but most importantly, it leads to better outcomes. With better student results, enhanced teacher training, improved access to technology, and with strategic funding improvements, my plan should ease Texas out of ongoing litigation because it does more to advance students in all regions of the state.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? Open carry laws exist in almost all states — including Massachusetts. I support open carry laws.
Democrat Wendy R. Davis
Occupation and/or your main source of income: Lawyer
City of your residence: Fort Worth, TX
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: 817-886-8863; www.WendyDavisTexas.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:
Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:
Past public offices you have run for or held:
Current State Senator - District 10, Fort Worth City Council Member 1999-2008, ran for the Fort Worth City Council in 1996.
Why are you the best candidate for this office? Texas needs a governor who will fight for all hardworking Texans – not just some. I’ve always believed that where you start shouldn’t determine where you finish. That means creating good paying for Texans and investing more in our classrooms so our children are prepared for the future.
While I will be a governor who fights for all hardworking Texans, my opponent, Greg Abbott, has proven time and again that he’s another insider fighting for other insiders at the expense of those Texans. On the Texas Supreme Court, he sided with a corporation and against a victim of rape. While serving on the oversight board of Texas cancer research center, he allowed his campaign contributors to take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars meant for cancer research without proper oversight. As Attorney General, he allowed his donors in the predatory lending industry to charge unlimited rates on Texas families – including military service members and teacher. He is currently in court now fighting against more than 600 school districts; wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, defending billions of dollars in cuts to our schools that caused 11,000 teachers to be laid off and have taken resources out of our kids' classrooms. Texas simply cannot afford someone like Greg Abbott who has used his Attorney General’s office to benefit his fellow insiders at the expense of Texans.
What are your top issues? The state of Texas is at a crossroads. If Texas is to lead in the 21st century, we need to invest more in our classrooms and to take the steps to keep our economy strong like creating good paying jobs for Texans and protecting the integrity of our water and transportation infrastructure.
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.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? We should keep the Texas lottery. I am proud to have helped pass programs like the ‘Veterans Cash’ scratch-off lottery ticket, which has served as the primary source of revenue for the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? Since this is a concept that’s already moving forward, my concern as Governor would be to make sure it’s being implemented appropriately, and that it become(s) a source of revenue without raising taxes.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? I believe we should allow voters to decide on casino gambling.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? I called on Governor Perry to take immediate action to address the growing crisis on the border by convening an emergency legislative session to bolster our overstretched border patrol agents, law enforcement personnel and local communities struggling to deal with the influx of individuals crossing our southern border. I support sending what local law enforcement is calling for: additional deputy sheriffs.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? No. I fought against laws that have now shuttered more than 60 health centers across Texas that once provided thousands of Texas women with care that they can't get elsewhere. I believe that these decisions should be made between a woman, her doctor and her God — not Austin politicians like Attorney General Greg Abbott, who advocates making abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? Creating a successful workforce through better investment in our human infrastructure must be priority number one. But we’ll also need to secure our physical infrastructure in order for Texas to lead in the future. I support solutions that would create needed investments in transportation and water, like the ballot initiative to create a $2 billion revolving fund for water projects and like the ballot initiative that voters will be presented with in November to secure more Rainy Day funding f or our growing transportation needs.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? No. In 2011 I filibustered the cuts to our schools. Those cuts led to overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs, and closed cuts. In 2013 we restored some of the cuts. As Governor, I'll restore the cuts to our public schools, cut bureaucratic red tape to put more money into classrooms, hire more qualified teachers and make college more affordable for all Texans.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? Texans with appropriate training, background checks and licenses should be able to carry their handguns openly if they choose.
Libertarian Kathie Glass
Occupation and/or main source of income: Attorney
City of your residence : Houston, Texas and small ranch close toMcDade, Texas
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Current: Highlights of current civic involvement /accomplishment: League of Independent Voters of Texas; Texas LULAC Outstanding Service Award: Woman of Distinction; Open Carry Texas; Disabled American Vets; Chair, Harris County Libertarian Party. Past: Nix Prop 6 Coalition; State Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Texas; Chair, Political Committee of the Libertarian Party of Texas Executive Committee; Drug Policy Forum Executive Committee; Be an Angel; Central Texas Fires Christmas Project.
Past public offices you have run for or held: Libertarian nominee for Texas Governor, 2010; Libertarian nominee for Texas Attorney General, 1982
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I am the only person in this race with the vision of the coming federal collapse and tyranny, a plan for how Texas stays strong and free when that time comes, and the guts to see it through. The Texas governor CAN secure the border, enforce the Constitution, and defeat cronyism in Texas. Only Kathie Glass WILL.
What are your top issues? I want to be Texas Governor to unite Texans to resist tyranny from Washington, D.C. and cronyism in Austin, and to reclaim our ability to make decisions and act as the sovereign state we are, such as in securing our border.
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 will limit my service to two terms and believe that the office of governor should be limited to two terms.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? Keep it, but dedicate net lottery proceeds to education as promised to Texas voters who originally approved it.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? Yes.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? Repeal laws outlawing gambling.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? The Texas governor can secure the border. Only Kathie Glass will. The border crisis is proof that Washington is broken and the two party system is corrupted by special interests. Texas must stop looking to the federal government to fix our border problems and broken immigration system. We must act as the sovereign state that we are in these, as in other, matters.
As in times past, Texas should craft our own made-for-Texas guest worker program. Such a program will greatly reduce the pressure on the border, and any remaining trespassers can be more easily identified and dealt with.
I call what our current Texas governor -- and his hand-picked successor -- plan to do on the border “Operation Photo Op.” We need law enforcement to enforce Texas law, not a shuttle service to federal resettlement facilities. Nothing except a lack of will prevents Texas from defending the private property rights of residents along the border by enforcing Texas state law.
While running for Texas governor in 2010, I sent Governor Perry a letter urging him to stop begging the federal government to secure our border. I told him: do your duty as Commander-in-Chief under our Texas Constitution, and use our Texas State Guard to secure the border. Had I been elected Texas governor in 2010, this crisis would not be happening now. Unless I am elected governor in 2014, the chaos will continue.
For more on my position on border issues, see kathieglass.org.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? Yes.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? Gas taxes should be dedicated to roads and bridges – not toll roads, bike paths, buses, rail, or streetcars. There should be a moratorium of new projects until simple solutions like synchronizing red lights have been exhausted. TxDOT is too corrupt and infested with cronies to be reformed and must be replaced. When our current governor first took office, Texas had no road debt – we were strictly pay-as-you-go from the gas tax. But cronies needed huge expensive and unnecessary projects to keep them rich and powerful, and so we got toll roads. Since 2010, I have driven all over Texas – in this campaign, I am visiting all 254 Texas counties. Texas has good sound roads with two exceptions: 1. overused rural roads in the Eagle Ford and other drilling areas, and 2. congestion in urban areas. The rural problem can be addressed by assessing user fees on the businesses that overuse or harm the roads. Common sense solutions to urban congestion -- such as synchronized red lights – should be tried before expensive new projects are implemented.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? No. We spend far too much on education – 37% of our budget or about 74 BILLION dollars. That vast sum is terribly misspent -- adding more dollars would only make things worse.
The recent school financing ruling has declared the school property tax to be unconstitutional. This good news furthers my goal of eliminating property taxes. We should stop collecting this unconstitutional tax; meantime, taxpayers should consider paying this unconstitutional tax under protest, and seek a refund.
This same court ruling has declared that Texas spends too little on education as evidenced by failing test scores. This creates perverse incentives, as the school districts know that failing test scores means more money for them and their cronies.
For too long, federal and state courts have improperly dictated how Texas schools are run and tax dollars spent, with disastrous results. In addition, cronyism and federal interference (C-Scope) has all but destroyed Texas public education. In order to preserve “the liberties and rights of the people,” our Texas Constitution mandates a “suitable provision” for an “efficient system of free public schools.”
The State of Texas currently sends about $8,000 per capita from the Permanent School Fund, and other sources, to school districts to meet this mandate. By restricting taxpayer-funded services including schools to citizens ( Plyler v. Doe does not prohibit this), the per capita payment would greatly increase to perhaps $10,000 or $12,000. This would satisfy our Texas Constitution and suitably provide for efficient public schools. Per capita state tax monies should not fund cronies and this includes Taj Mahal-like offices and buildings, “TajMahStadiums,” or interest on debt. Nor should any Texas taxes fund “FedLedEd” (such as C-Scope/Common Core).
We should allow local supplementation of the State of Texas per capita payment with a penny sales tax if approved by the voters. Using this approach, we can end school property taxes and “Robin Hood” transfers, fight cronyism and federal tyranny, protect our right and ability to own property, and grow the economy.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? YES!!
Green Party Brandon Parmer Did not respond to questionnaire
Republican Dan Patrick Did not respond to questionnaire
Democrat Leticia Van de Putte
Occupation and/or main source of income: Pharmacist
City of your residence: San Antonio
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: Phone: 210-737-2626; Email: email@example.com; Website: www.leticiavandeputte.com
Highlights of your current civic involvement: 2011-Present Families USA; 2009-Present The National Assessment Governing Board; 2009-Present Milbank Memorial Fund, Member; 2008-Present American Legacy Foundation Board, Member; 2007-Present State Affairs Committee - Texas Senate; 2003-Present Chair, Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee -Texas Senate; 2003-Present Member, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL); 2001-Present Member, Business & Commerce Committee -Texas Senate; 2001-Present Member, Education Committee -Texas Senate; 1999-Present Texas State Senate; 1991-Present Member, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment: 2012 Co-Chair, Joint Committee to Study Human Trafficking; 2008 Co-Chair, Democratic National Convention Committee; 2007-2008 President, National Conference of State Legislators Foundation; 2006-2007 President, NCSL; 2004-2005 NALEO Board Committee; 2003-2010 Chair, Texas Senate Democratic Caucus; 2003-2005 President, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL); 2001-2003 Chair, Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus; 2000-2001 Vice-Chair, Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus; 1998 Chair, Mexican American Legislative Caucus; 1991-1999 Texas House of Representatives; 1987-1988 President, Bexar County Pharmacy Association.
Past public offices you have run for or held: 1999-Present Texas State Senate; 1991-1999 Texas House of Representatives
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I’m a sixth generation Texan, a pharmacist for over 30 years, and a proven effective legislator for over 20 years. I’m a mother and a grandmother, and I’m a Texan first. I bring my experience as a pharmacist and a small business owner to this race and I have a prescription for Texas. From ending high stakes testing for our students to ensuring all qualified high school graduates have the opportunity to continue their education, I have a prescription to build roads and highways so we can continue to support our businesses and create high paying jobs in Texas. My prescription will ensure veterans and their families have access to the resources they need and have earned, and we will secure the border and hold Washington accountable to fix our broken immigration system. A leader listens first and then works with the brightest minds, regardless of political affiliation, to put Texas first. I am determined to leave a Texas with more opportunity for my grandchildren than was given to my generation. That means fighting for our neighborhood schools, ensuring affordable health care, building a smart economy, and investing in a strong infrastructure. As Lieutenant Governor, I’ll make sure Texas is a better place to live, learn, and start a business.
What are your top issues? I believe we can make the dream of a college education within reach of every hard-working high school graduate in Texas. Not every high school graduate will go to college but every one of them deserves the opportunity to go. That’s why I am proposing we create the Texas Promise Scholarship Program. It would offer all qualifying high school graduates two years of free community college or advanced technical training. Higher education is getting further and further out of reach for everyday Texans - but we can change that. A one-time investment of capital that is sitting in state budget coffers today can change the lives of an entire generation of Texans. I want Texas voters to have the final say, so when it passes the legislature next session, it would be put before voters as a constitutional amendment. My Texas First plan will adequately fund our local neighborhood schools. Overcrowded classrooms in grades Kindergarten through 4th grade tripled after the education cuts of 2011. 11,000 teacher jobs were gone just like that. Parents should no longer have to wonder if their child’s class will be overcrowded, students should no longer have to wonder whether one test will determine whether they graduate, and teachers should no longer have to pull money from their pockets just so that their students have basic supplies. My Texas First Plan will ensure that our veterans receive the health care they need and have earned; have access to higher education and training opportunities; and get college credit for their military service. I will continue the work I have done as Chair of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations to fulfill the promise to our military members, veterans and their families that Texas is the number one state for them to return, prosper, raise their families, and retire.
I have a plan to invest in good public roads and a sustainable future water supply. These two ingredients that are essential for a prosperous economic future have been neglected for too long. I will lead with courage to move our state towards making smart investments in roads and bridges that keep Texas moving forward. And I will ensure that our families and communities have the water they need to grow. With Texas being one of the most rapidly growing states and having just suffered one of the worst droughts in its history, we can no longer afford for basic needs such as roads and water to be neglected.
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 as long as the good people of Texas will have me. I have supported legislation that would allow the people Texas to establish term limits for all statewide elected offices. I trust Texans to make the decision when it is time for an office holder to move on.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? The Texas Lottery has contributed more than $16 billion to public education, and of that total, almost $1.15 billion was contributed in fiscal year 2013 to the Foundation School Fund. In addition, $6.2 million dollars was transferred to the Texas Veterans Commission’s Fund for Veterans’ Assistance which provides grants to local non-profit organizations and local governments that provide direct services to Texas veterans and their families. As Lieutenant Governor, I would encourage the Legislature to keep the Texas lottery. The lottery funds such important items like public education and veteran services. If the legislature chooses to kill it, they must have solutions to fill the resulting revenue gap they would create. Texans should decide whether they want to expand the lottery.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? Decisions such as this that impact the entire state should be made through a process that allows all of Texans’ voices to be heard. Therefore, I believe the issue should be decided through the legislative process and not the Texas Racing Commission. Putting this issue before the Texas Legislature would allow the positions of all parties to be heard and how best historical racing could be implemented in our state.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? Texas continues to grow and to keep our state strong, we must consider all sustainable revenue to fund investment in our water, education, and transportation needs without raising taxes for everyday Texans. I believe that our state should take a serious look at allowing highly regulated casino gambling. Texans should have the final vote on this matter.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? We must secure our border. To meet any increased activity, it is important that we work with our local law enforcement officials and that we get them the state resources they need because they know how to tackle these challenges. That is why I support state grants for local law enforcement as well as the deployment of the DPS in the short term. I was heartbroken to see the number of minors and mothers with their young children at a shelter in McAllen. What I learned from speaking directly to the children who made the dangerous trek from Central America was that these children of God had fled here despite their horrendous journey in the hope of escaping the even more horrendous violence back home. Truly addressing this challenge requires us to hold Washington, D.C. - the federal government, regardless of political affiliation - accountable. Washington D.C.’s inability to work together and get things done is at the root of this challenge.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? It is a sad day when the government makes health care decisions that should be made between a woman and her doctor. This a fight that my generation and my mother’s generation already fought and won. It’s necessary that we keep up this fight so that my granddaughters don’t have even more restrictions on their health care decisions than were made this past session. We must trust Texas women. I have lived my Catholic faith. My husband Pete and I have been married for 37 years and have six children and six nearly perfect grandchildren. I wish there was zero abortions in Texas. You don’t reduce the number of abortions by limiting access, you do so by making abortions unnecessary in the first place.
What are your priorities for improving Texas’ infrastructure? For too long, the legislature’s lack of investing in our transportation infrastructure has left Texans stuck in traffic, goods delayed from timely deliveries, and our state left with more debt. As Lieutenant Governor, I will work with our legislature and local and state leaders to find a sustainable and long-term solution to our transportation issues. I support approving the transportation investment proposition and ending the diversion to transportation funds. These actions will help with our growing transportation needs but there is still more to be done. Much of our state is in drought, with some cities now just days away from having to truck water in just to drink. Whether its for our businesses or ourfamilies, if we don’t find a Texas solution, we face significant challenges. We must invest into our state’s water infrastructure to ensure our farmers and ranchers have the water they need to grow the food we eat; our business and industries can continue to thrive; and our families have the water they need in their homes. As Lieutenant Governor, I will lead our state towards utilizing smarter ways to use our water and working with our federal and local partners to do what is necessary to ensure our state’s future water supply.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? Investing in the education of Texans is always a good investment. For far too long Texans have been calling for strong neighborhood schools, and yet many in Austin ignored their pleas. In 2011, my opponent supported devastating cuts to public education, leaving 11,000 teachers without jobs and increasing class sizes. In 2013, my opponent voted against our students again while I worked with everyone to restore the cuts. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not effectively pass plans in 2011 or 2013, they only chose to cut or partially restore the already broken system. We do not need another court to tell us how to do our jobs. Texans expect a quality education for their children -- no excuses, no delays. As Lieutenant Governor, I will lead the Senate to adequately fund our neighborhood schools. Teachers should no longer have to pull money from their pockets just so that their students have basic supplies. Students should not be in overcrowded classrooms.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? I am proud to support the Second Amendment. My family owns guns, and I have taken an oath as an elected official to defend our country’s and our state’s constitution. Responsible gun ownership is a hallmark of Texas and I support Texas’ concealed carry law. With regards to the open carry of a handgun, I side with my local law enforcement – the police and sheriffs who keep us safe every day – who have serious concerns about the legislation. My support for gun legislation will always be carefully balanced with my responsibility as a public servant to ensure that the security of all Texans is never put in jeopardy. As Lieutenant Governor, I will protect Texan’s Second Amendment rights. I will always take my responsibility as a public servant seriously, examining each piece of legislation carefully, listening to law enforcement, and ensuring that the security of all Texans is never put in jeopardy.
Libertarian Robert D. Butler
Occupation and/or main source of income: Marketing Consultant
City of your residence: Round Rock
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Currently serve on the boards of: Rotary Club of Round Rock Sunrise, Penfold Theatre Company, Round Rock Symphony, Foundation for a Free Society, Williamson County Libertarian Party, State Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Texas. Served as a volunteer: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Institute for Justice
Past public offices you have run for or held: Leander ISD Board of Trustees
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I’m running for Lt. Governor because I believe in the sovereign power of the individual to have both the economic and personal freedom they need to decide the best way to live their lives. Neither the Republican nor the Democratic Parties fully support and defend an individual’s inherent and self-evident rights in both the economic and personal spheres of life. In addition, both parties have become irretrievably corrupted and the government requires reform to combat this corrupting influence.
What are your top issues? The top issues of my campaign include: Economic Freedom, Personal Freedom, and Government Reform. By economic freedom, I mean defending private property rights against government abuse, ending the franchise tax, cutting both the state budget and taxes by half, and promoting the policy of sound money. By increasing personal freedoms, I advocate making legal immigration easier by expanding the tourist, worker, and student visa programs, ending the war on drugs, creating more educational choices for parents, opening health care to the free market, and ending unconstitutional searches by local, state, and federal agencies including cooperation with the TSA and NSA. Regarding government reform, we need to return political power to the people by ending laws that favor a two-party system, introducing proportional representation, increasing transparency, reforming the criminal justice system, and ending civil asset forfeiture.
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 limit myself to 2 terms in office for a total of 8 years. On the one hand, power corrupts even the best intentioned leaders over time, so I do believe that the candidates and the voters should seek to limit the amount of time one person serves in a particular office. On the other hand, limiting terms can place more power in the hands of the unelected bureaucracy, so if there is a term limit, it should not be less than 8 years in total for any official.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? The Texas lottery is one of the few forms of voluntary taxation. People willingly give my money to the state government in the hopes of winning something in return. I have no problem with this, but I would prefer to see gambling legalized for private enterprise. Texas would make much more money taxing legal gambling than running its own lottery.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? Yes. I am concerned about the reports of animal abuse that often accompany racing, especially dog tracks, so I would want the facilities to be open to public scrutiny to monitor the conditions of the animals.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? Consenting adults have the right to make their own decisions about gambling. Gambling businesses should be free to operate anywhere in the state.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? There are two fundamental drivers of crime and violence at the Texas border: drugs and immigration. Texas needs to exert its authority under the tenth amendment to the US Constitution to legalize drugs, thereby ending the drug war on the border and legalizing immigration. We should allow peaceful people to cross the border freely through a regular process that identifies them and verifies
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? I believe that the only just use of government force is to protect life, liberty, and property. Abortion destroys a human life and should be illegal unless the mother's life is at risk. It's my hope that as technology progresses, women who do not wish to be pregnant or have children can give them up for adoption before they're born.
What are your priorities for improving Texas’ infrastructure? We need to use the increased revenues coming from the oil and gas industry to build more roads and highways, expand and repair existing highways, and encourage private industry to build mass transit like the proposed train between Dallas and Houston. We need to make it easier for private industry to bring trains, planes, automobiles, and spacecraft to Texas.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? The Texas Constitution says that the state must provide an education for our young people. We currently employ a large bureaucracy to manage complicated funding formulas and other educational programs. It has become too complex to manage when even the professionals can't accurate calculate exactly how much money should be given to the schools.We can make school funding a lot easier by giving schools grants depending upon how many students they have at or below the poverty line. We already ask parents to fill out applications to qualify for free or reduced lunch. We can use this data to determine how much money a school should receive. The money should follow the students, and the parents should be able to decide which school will best serve their own children's needs.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? I grew up in Florida which allows open carry in certain circumstances. In big cities like Miami, criminals would target tourists because they were the most likely to be unarmed, easy targets as they exited the airport. There were a lot of benefits to living under open carry, and I didn't see or hear about many problems. Openly carrying weapons is a very strong deterrent towards crime and we have the individual right to defend ourselves.
Green Party Chandrakantha Courtney Did not respond to questionnaire
Republican Ken Paxton
Occupation and/or main source of income: Legal practice
City of your residence: McKinney, Texas
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: www.kenpaxton.com
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: In the Texas Senate, I currently serve as Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee. Additionally, I also serve on the following committees of the Texas State Senate: Education; Government Organization; Intergovernmental Relations; and Jurisprudence. As a member of the Texas House, I have served as Vice Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Vice Chair of the General Investigating and Ethics Committee, Vice Chair of the State Affairs Committee, and Vice Chair of the Select Committee on Property Tax Relief and Appraisal Reform. I have also served on the following committees of the Texas House: Financial Institutions; Public School, Subcommittee on Cost Adjustments; Human Services; Land and Resource Management; Select Committee on Fiscal Stability; County Affairs; and Urban Affairs. Some of my previous civic involvement includes: Allen, Frisco, Plano, and McKinney Chambers of Commerce; Board member, Prestonwood Pregnancy and Family Care Center in Dallas; Member, McKinney Rotary Club; Advisory Board Member, America’s Futures Series; Honorary Chair, Prosper Open Foundation; Advisory Board, Marketplace Ministries; Advisory Board, Frisco Association for the Arts and Cross Timbers Youth Orchestra; Board Member, The Wilberforce and Lincoln Center; Board Member, Sacra Script Ministries; named one of the 21 Leaders of the 21st Century by Inside Collin County Business; Baylor University Student Body President.
Past public offices you have run for or held: Texas State Senate, 2013 - current; Texas State Representative, 2003 - 2013
Why are you the best candidate for this office? Throughout my time in elected office, I have had the courage to fight for what is right, even if it wasn’t popular. I voted against bloated budgets. I cast vote after vote, sometimes against my own party leadership, to protect Texas’ values. I have the experience, credentials and political courage to stand for Texas as your next Attorney General. The position of Attorney General is one that requires strategic planning, vision, and analytical skills. It is critical that the next Attorney General be a trusted, committed, constitutional conservative – someone Texans know they can count on to demonstrate political courage, regardless of the personal consequences.
What are your top issues? An ever-encroaching federal government is the largest threat to individual liberty and states’ rights. Obamacare is the latest and most egregious example of federal laws that dictate bad policies to individuals and to the states. Obamacare’s regulations on individuals, mandates on businesses, and expansion of government must be stopped. The Attorney General is the first line of legal defense. As Attorney General, I will continue to aggressively litigate, as Greg Abbott has done, whenever possible to protect our liberties. There are new threats to our personal liberties and personal privacies. The NSA, the EPA, the IRS, and now the health care exchange navigators have all encroached on our privacy and personal liberties. The Attorney General should stand between the individuals and government to defend our freedoms when the government threatens our liberties and privacy.
Failing to secure our border fosters human trafficking and drug cartels, which pose a serious external threat to our state. As Attorney General, I will make it a top priority to work with the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement officials to determine the state strategic needs to secure our international border and how to achieve our goals of protecting Texans by securing our border. The federal government has refused to address border security and illegal immigration, so Texas must continue to step up.
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 voted for term limits for statewide elected officials last session as a Senator. However, since the constitutional amendment did not pass the House, the voters did not have the opportunity to consider term limits for elected officials.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? I have a consistent voting record of opposing the expansion of state-sponsored gambling.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? The Texas Racing Commission should not pass rules that expand gambling without the clear direction of the Texas Legislature. I have a consistent voting record of opposing the expansion of state-sponsored gambling.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? I have a consistent voting record of opposing the expansion of state-sponsored gambling.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? I will work to secure our border. As Attorney General, I will make it a top priority to work with the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement officials to determine the state strategic needs to secure our international border and how to achieve our goals for border security to protect Texans. In a time when Washington is more out-of-touch than ever before and a President with a ‘lead from behind’ foreign policy, it is clearly up to Texas to secure the border and protect our citizens, despite this being a constitutionally mandated responsibility of the federal government.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? I will defend Life. As Attorney General, I will promote a culture of life in Texas, and ensure that laws passed by the legislature, including House Bill 2 which I co-sponsored, are fully implemented and legally protected. My commitment to the sanctity of life is deeply personal. Because of a courageous decision by her birth mother, my wife Angela was placed for adoption. Because her birth mother chose life, I met the woman of my dreams and have been blessed with a wonderful life with Angela and our family. Together, Angela and I have four children: Tucker, Abby, Madison, and Katie.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? The Office of the Attorney General currently assists the Texas Department of Transportation in negotiating right-of-way acquisition, reviews comprehensive development agreements, and assists in the prosecution of gas tax fraud. I will work to maximize our gas tax dollars and ensure our tax money is used wisely through these responsibilities. Our dollars must be spent on highway construction and right-of-way acquisition. I have a legislative record of opposing diversions of the gas tax to non-highway uses and projects.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? As Attorney General, I will defend the Texas Constitution and state laws. The duty of the Attorney General is to defend the laws passed by the legislature. The primary constitutional debate for the Legislature and the courts and the Attorney General concerns efficiency and adequate funding. The Legislature has a Constitutional obligation to adequately fund an efficient system of free schools. Over the last decade and more, spending on public education has increased while student achievement has remained fairly flat, contrary to the definition — and common sense understanding — of efficiency.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? I will defend and promote the Second Amendment. I have a solid voting record in support of our 2nd Amendment rights, and since my first session have earned a consistent “A” rating from the NRA and TSRA. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from infringing upon our right to personally keep and bear arms. I will work to prevent the federal, state, and local governments from infringing upon the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment is essential to maintaining a free society with limited government.
Democrat Sam Houston
Occupation and/or main source of income: Attorney, partner in firm Shepherd, Scott, Clawater & Houston
City of your residence: Houston
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: info@samhoustonfortexas
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: While most of my time during the past year has been spent with my family, my law practice and campaigning, I have served as a volunteer for the Center for the Retarded and as a volunteer with Sheltering Arms in the past.
Past public offices you have run for or held: Texas Supreme Court, 2008. I won 46% of the vote
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I grew up in the small West Texas town of Colorado City where I learned from my family the value of hard work, role models, small business and the law. I have put my Texas values to work for 26 years representing citizens and businesses and helping them protect their interests. I am a partner in my own firm—Shepherd, Scott, Clawater & Houston. The Attorney General represents the people of Texas and upholds the state constitution. To do his job, the AG must have the trust of the people and conduct all business in a transparent manner. The Attorney General should not use the office to protect members of a political party or to promote a political philosophy. The Attorney General must serve all the people, not just those of one political party. I will be that Attorney General.
What are your top issues? The single most important issue in the race for Attorney General is the issue of trust and integrity. As Attorney General, I will come to work every day and apply Texas values to meet the challenges of our great state. I pledge to the people of Texas to be an Attorney General they can trust -- an Attorney General with professional integrity.
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 will serve as long as the people of Texas will elect me. I do not believe there should be term limits for the Attorney General’s Office.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? This is a Legislative issue.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? This is a Legislative issue.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? This is a Legislative issue.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? This is a Legislative issue.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? The healthcare needs of women in Texas are critically important. The court’s ruling in this case was very clear, and the AG should try to resolve this important issue.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? This is a Legislative issue.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? It is time to stop spending our state’s education dollars in the courtroom and start spending them in the classroom. The education of our children should be a top priority for everyone in this state. It’s time to end the lawsuits and work together to resolve school funding for students, parents and teachers.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? This is a Legislative issue.
Libertarian Jamie Balagia
Occupation and/or main source of income: Owner of the Law Offices of Jamie Balagia, P.C.
City of your residence: Travis County
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: firstname.lastname@example.org
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Leader of a home Bible Study Group; Legal Counsel of San Antonio NORML.
Past public offices you have run for or held: none
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I was a Texas Peace Officer from 1978 until 1990 when I began attending the University of Texas School of Law. I am a 22 year practicing criminal defense attorney and represent the citizens of Texas every day of the year. I have no intention of running for any higher office than this one and will not be using this office to further advance my political career. I believe that no politician should hold office for more than two terms before returning to the private sector to work under the conditions that the politicians have created for private business. I also believe that all elected politicians should take an oath that they will not participate in lobbying activities until they have been out of office for six years. This will prevent the glad-handing and pocket padding that we see many “so-called” public servants engaging in.
I believe that marijuana should be decriminalized and that no Texan should be locked in a cage for possessing or consuming a plant. I am convinced from my law enforcement days that this would alleviate much of the animosity between the police and our minority citizens. It will put an end to “profiling” traffic stops, illegal searches and seizures, and the negative interactions between the police and minorities. It will end the economic stranglehold of the criminal justice system on many of our citizens, it will allow the development of medicinal marijuana for many suffering citizens and veterans, and will stop the job crushing impact of a drug conviction.
I also believe that all police officers should be required to use body camera videotaping of all police/citizen encounters. This will practically eliminate false complaints of police brutality as well as false charges being filed against our citizens by corrupt police officers.
What are your top issues? Putting an end to the criminalization of marijuana and police accountability.
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, two terms and then back to the private sector as I mentioned above.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? The citizens are addicted to it. I personally support legalized gambling in Texas to keep our citizens from going out of state to visit casinos. If they are going to gamble we should regulate it here and provide treatment avenues for those who can not control themselves and develop a gambling problem. Currently, our citizens gamble out of state or gamble illegally in Texas and there are no treatment plans financed by in-state gambling entities available.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? yes
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? in favor
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? secure the border but provide for a worker program that identifies, taxes and regulates visitor workers.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? No answer provided
What are your priorities for improving Texas’ infrastructure? Demand that our fair share of gasoline tax monies be returned to Texas and assigned to specific road and highway projects. Provide tax breaks to businesses that employ Texas residents to promote managed growth in our communities and a strong tax base to provide basic services to our citizens.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? I do. I also favor school vouchers for those citizens that which to put their kids in private or church schools.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? I support the Second Amendment but do not believe that citizens should carry chambered rounds in rifles or shotguns in public. There should be some restrictions on having weapons near schools or playgrounds that are being handled in public. I would support a requirement that they be left in a secure portion of a vehicle and am in agreement with the current law on the traveling exception.
Green Party Jamar Osborne Did not respond to questionnaire
Comptroller of Public Accounts
Republican Glenn Hegar
Occupation and/or main source of income: Small business owner
City of your residence: Katy, Texas
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: Voters can access our campaign by visiting our website at www.glennhegar.com, by e-mailing email@example.com, and they can also keep up to date with campaign activities by following us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/GlennHegarTX) or on Twitter (@Glenn_Hegar and @TeamHegar)
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)
Past public offices you have run for or held: former Texas State Representative District 28 (2003-2008), current State Senator (2008-present)
Why are you the best candidate 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. 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 your top issues? 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.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? Although this is an issue that has to be decided by the legislature, I will say that the Lottery as a source of education funding has been a complete failure. I do not think that gambling is a solution to funding any function of government.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? The Texas Racing Commission has recently decided this issue in a vote of 6-1, and the legislature will undoubtedly address this issue in the upcoming legislative session.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? Throughout my tenure as a legislator, I have been consistent in my opposition to any expansion of gambling.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? First and foremost, from a humanitarian perspective, we need to exercise humility and protect the children who need it, recognizing the difficult situation from which they are trying to escape. In addition to treating this like the humanitarian crisis that it is, we also need to assure the safety of our own citizens. Texas should put more resources on the border to enhance security. The federal government has refused to make this issue a priority. So, as Comptroller, I want to work with the legislature to determine what exactly this crisis is costing us as a state. Many local governments in our state, especially those along the border, are carrying the burden of Washington’s inaction. That means that at the state level, we need to work with our local governments to make sure they have the resources they need and so that we can adequately protect our citizens from the dangerous criminals and thugs that are taking advantage of this crisis situation along our state’s border.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? Yes. I was the author.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? Investing in quality infrastructure is an important part of maintaining a healthy economy, and I believe that adequately maintaining our infrastructure needs is a core function of state government. As Comptroller, I want to utilize my experience as Chairman of the State’s Sunset Commission and work with the legislature to streamline government, eliminate inefficiency, and cut waste. These savings can then be used to invest in the areas that need it like roads, water, public safety, and education.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? As a father of three children in public schools, I believe in adequately funding our education system. I voted for the school finance plans the legislature passed in 2011 and 2013.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? I have always been a very strong proponent of 2nd amendment rights and have passed several bills as a legislator that have increased 2nd amendment rights and have added legal protections to those who lawfully carry their weapons.
Democrat Mike Collier
Ococcupation and/or main source of income: Certified Public Accountant
City of your residence: Kingwood, TX
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: www.CollierForTexas.com
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: I have devoted most of my time to my business career and family.
Past public offices you have run for or held: None
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I am a Certified Public Accountant and, if elected, will be Texas’ first CPA to hold the position of the state’s top accountant. My career as an accounting and financial professional spans nearly 25 years and I have worked as an auditor, accountant, controller, CFO, and accounting due diligence professional. I was a partner for many years at PwC, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, where I worked with some of Texas’ largest companies on large, complex accounting and financial projects. I hold an MBA in finance and BBA –Petroleum Land Management from the University of Texas and have devoted most of my professional life to the finance and accounting in and around the energy industry. Finally, I am not a politician hoping to use the job as a stepping-stone. I am putting my career aside to reform the Comptroller’s Office in order to help improve the quality of our lives in Texas and the financial decisions we make.
What are your top issues? As a CPA and non-politician, I am determined to take politics out, and put competence in, to the Comptroller’s office. More specifically: We must reform the way in which we forecast revenues. The old way, forecasting only for the legislative session, is no longer working as we become a very large and complex state. The dramatic cuts in education in the 82nd Legislature were not necessary and were predicated on a false format. The budget we are working under now is, once again, based on a bad forecast and soon we will be reading about massive surpluses while at the same time we are under-investing in public education, roads and water infrastructure. I will implement quarterly forecast updates. This will squeeze political gamesmanship out of forecasting and greatly improve the reliability and timeliness of these forecasts.
We must bring Performance Reviews back to the Comptroller’s office where they can be conducted with skill and independence. I will work with the Legislature to do this, and I will propose changing the name to Texas Accountability Audits to make it perfectly clear what they are intended to accomplish. In the past these reviews found billions of dollars in savings.
We must clean-up our state’s fund accounting, and end the practice of diversions. We must also upgrade our ethics, compliance and enforcement systems and snuff out the cronyism and insider dealings that have resulted from 20 years of one-party rule.
There are other priorities of equal importance, such as working hard to reform our property tax system to make it fair again for homeowners and small businesses. I have developed a very aggressive reform agenda, which can be found on my website at www.CollierForTexas.com. We must restore the agency to what it was meant to be: a beacon of trust. It must cease to be a platform for political promotion.
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 believe state-wide office holders should be limited to two terms. If elected, I do not intend to serve for more than two terms as Comptroller.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? Not relevant to Comptroller’s office, this is a legislative matter.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? Not relevant to Comptroller’s office, this is a legislative matter.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? Not relevant to Comptroller’s office, this is a legislative matter.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? Not relevant to Comptroller’s office, this is a legislative matter.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? Not relevant to Comptroller’s office, this is a legislative matter.
What are your priorities for improving Texas’ infrastructure? Although the Comptroller’s role is limited to funding priorities approved by the Legislature, I have a strong personal view that we need to increase funding in public education at all levels, and we need to increase funding in transportation and water infrastructure. This is a widespread sentiment in the business community. As Comptroller I will reform revenue forecasting and run the Accountability Audits to help achieve this without resorting to debt or taxes. My aspiration is to enable Texas lawmakers to doing so much more to invest in our future than we are doing today without raising taxes.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? Clearly it is time to overhaul our school funding system, with the strategic goal in mind of having great schools. In my opinion we are under-investing in public education and I intend to drive change. Our schools are not producing the quality workforce we need to thrive economically, and we are not adequately preparing our young people to be self-sufficient. I do not, however, advocate throwing money at the problem. This is one of the fundamental flaws in how we run government. We must first decide what will work, and that will require much more enlightened leadership than we’ve been getting in Austin. Once we know the way forward, then we can confidently step-up funding. I believe Texans will support increased funding in public education if we strengthen fiscal controls so that their money goes into the classroom and gets the job done. Part of the enlightened leadership I am looking for is a commitment to treat teachers like the heroes they are; I find it unconscionable that we treat our teachers with such disrespect. This must change.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? Not relevant to Comptroller’s office, this is a legislative matter.
Libertarian Ben Sanders
Occupation and/or main source of income: Financial IT Program Manager at Apptricity, Inc. http://www.apptricity.com/
City of your residence: Irving
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: http://www.vote4sanders.com/
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Current: Freemason, Philanthropist, Ordained Minister; Past: NASA White Sands Test Facility IT Application Committee, Co-Chairman, Author of Charter; NASA Johnson Space Center Information Technology Working Group , Member; Appointed to the White House, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Information Technology Governance Counsel for NASA, 2011; Sat on the Budget Line of Business Collaboration Work group for NASA and the DOD; Recipient of NASA’s “I am an Innovator” award, 2010, 2011; NASA White Sands Test Facility Stem's Education outreach Chairman for 2010, 2011; NASA Astronaut Candidate 2013; Best of Army Knowledge Online, 2011, for best Web Viewer Channel Armyhire.com named Army's best website 2013 winning the Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs; Award Third Place in President's 2010 SAVE award
Past public offices you have run for or held: None, I am not a career politician
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I’ve trained my entire life for this position. I hold Doctorate in Business Administration and my thesis draft was used in part as the foundation of CIO of the United States of America Vivek Kundra's "25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information technology Management". During my years at the US Army and NASA, I honed my skills in leadership, through fairness, integrity, and honor and will instill those values in the eighteen Field Offices across Texas. As Comptroller I won't use scare tactics against my fellow Texans to control them. I will always tell you the truth no matter how unpleasant it might be. I'm not going to Austin to make friends who can help my political career, because I don't have one. The only office I am interested in is that of Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. In the comptroller's race, I was the only hopeful to provide tax returns. If you can't trust the Comptroller to faithfully fill out their Tax Return and Public Financial Disclosure form, how can you trust them with your tax dollars? I am qualified and ready to lead!
What are your top issues? Promotion and Education of Small Business; Property Tax; Expanding the Transparency of Government and Finance; Uphold the Texas Constitution
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? Like any elected official, I serve at the pleasure of the people. They will effectively limit my term if they don't approve of the way I am doing the job they hired me to do. While in office my primary concern will be to execute my oath of office and serve the people of Texas and not campaign for my next election. I believe we have term limits for every public office. They are held every 2, 4 or 6 years, and they are called elections. I trust the citizenry of the state of Texas to get informed and make the best decision regarding the office I seek.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? Lotteries has been used since the beginning of civilization to raise needed money for various public projects. The first recorded signs of a lottery are keno slips from the Chinese Han Dynasty between 205 and 187 BC to finance the Great Wall of China. It has been recorded that more than 200 lotteries were sanctioned between 1744 and 1776, and played a major role in financing roads, libraries, churches, colleges, canals, bridges, etc. Today, in the Lottery’s 21-year history 2013 ticket sales topped $4.376billion, with $1.214 billion to the state of Texas, the Lottery’s single largest transfer of revenue to the state, including a contribution of $1.149 billion to the Foundation School Fund. Sales of the Veterans Cash scratch-off game resulted in $6.2 million for the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance, which is administered by the Texas Veterans Commission. 2013 was the 10th consecutive year that the Texas Lottery generated more than $1 billion in contributions to the state of Texas. The Texas Lottery’s careful spending kept administrative expenses to an all-time record low of 4.4 percent of fiscal year 2013 sales. For the state’s more than 17,000 Texas Lottery retailers that collect a five percent commission on every lottery sale, those commissions amounted to a record $218.9 million in 2013. On top of the record-setting sales, prizes, commissions and revenue increases, other highlights for fiscal year 2013 include:
· In January 2013, the Texas Lottery surpassed $15 billion in transfers to the Foundation School Fund.
· Texas saw its first ever Powerball jackpot prize winner and its 10th Mega Millions jackpot prize winner.
· The world-record $590.5 million Powerball jackpot for the May 18 drawing and other large Powerball jackpots.
As Texas Comptroller, it is not within the authority of this office to enact or abolish the Texas Lottery this is a matter for the People to decide, but I can justly and fairly report the fiscal facts.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? As Texas Comptroller this issue is not for my office to say, but a matter for the legislator and the People to decide. What I can tell you are the facts and not all that long ago, Texas was a major horse racing state. In October 2004, more than 53,000 fans jammed Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie for the Breeders’ Cup, the only time that premier event has ever been held in Texas. The off-track parties, featuring George Strait and Willie Nelson, were memorable, too. A decade of decline later, though, the fun is almost gone. When it comes to horse racing, the words “major” and “Texas” no longer seem to go together. Horse owners and trainers follow the money, so purse levels have a ripple effect throughout the industry, from breeding to veterinary services. Higher purses mean better horses, better competition and more spectator interest. The horse industry is a very large and important part of our national, state and local economies. It is diverse, involving agriculture, business, sport, gaming, entertainment and recreation.
· There are 9.2 million horses in the United States.
· 4.6 million Americans are involved in the industry as horse owners, service providers, employees and volunteers.
· 2 million people own horses.
· The horse industry has a direct economic effect on the U.S. of $39 billion annually.
· The industry has a $102 billion impact on the U.S. economy when the multiplier effect of spending by industry suppliers and employees is taken into account. Including off-site spending of spectators would result in an even higher figure.
· The industry directly provides 460,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
· Spending by suppliers and employees generates additional jobs for a total employment impact of 1.4 million FTE jobs.
· The horse industry pays $1.9 billion in taxes to all levels of government.
· Approximately 34% of horse owners have a household income of less than $50,000 and 28% have an annual income of over $100,000. 46% of horse owners have an income of between $25,000 to $75,000.
Study of the Current State of Horse and Greyhound Racing in Texas and Industry Recommendations for Improvement.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? As Texas Comptroller this is not within this office’s scope of control, and I would not be in favor of any Government Subsidies for gambling or gaming. What I can tell you is the fiscal facts. For decades, Las Vegas was the only place in the United States where casino gambling was legal. But in the late 1970s, Atlantic City, N.J., followed suit. Since then, more and more state and local governments have gotten into the game, lured by the promise of new jobs and tax revenues. Forty states now permit some form of casino gambling. Recapturing revenue lost to neighboring states is now the primary reason why states legalize gambling. In 2012, the state's 26,476 one-armed bandits across the state casinos produced $2.47 billion in slot machine revenue, that's 2.7 percent higher than the previous year. All those losses generated more than $1.3 billion in tax revenue for the state, about 2 percent higher than in 2011. Slot machine revenue is taxed at roughly 55 percent, with the proceeds going mainly toward property tax relief. With all this talk you might be thinking I’m talking about Nevada, but this is actually Pennsylvania.
· Global casino gaming revenue ………. $159.71bn
· Global revenue of Las Vegas Sands ………. $13.77bn
· Number of casinos in North America ………. 1,623
· U.S. casino gaming market revenue ………. $65.497bn
· Number of casinos in the U.S. .……. 1,511
· Gross gaming revenue of Las Vegas Strip, Nev. .………. $6.207bn
· Total number of casino employees in Nevada ………. 174,381
· Poker room revenue of Nevada casinos ………. $123.89m
· National tax revenue from Pennsylvania commercial casinos ………. $1.487bn
· Average annual salary of casino employees in Nevada ………. $41,450
· Revenue per employee of casinos in Nevada ………. $126,230
· Annual Visitors to Las Vegas ………. 39,668,221
· Convention Delegate Attendees ………. 5,107,416
· Annual Number of Conventions in Las Vegas ………. 22,027
· Annual County Government Revenue in Las Vegas ………. $9.70bn
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? This questions was recently reviewed and answered in March of 2014 by UTEP and the National Center for Border Security and Immigration (NCBSI). The Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas has witnessed a significant increase in illegal immigration over the last three years that has impacted Department of Homeland Security enforcement entities. Within this overall increase of illegal immigration the region has also seen a substantial increase of unaccompanied alien children that are mostly classified as Other Than Mexican nationals. The large influx of UACs has caused DHS some difficulty in meeting the requirements of the Flores v. Reno Settlement Agreement, which stipulates that the UAC will be placed in the custody of an organization that can appropriately care for the UAC. The two DHS components mostly impacted by these increases are Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations. The Health and Human Services Department, Office of Refugee and Resettlement, is the agency responsible for long-term placement of UACs in contracted shelters while UACs await their immigration hearings.
The number of UACs in the Rio Grande Valley/Harlingen Field Office geographical area has seen an increase of 367.6 percent since fiscal year 2011. Most UACs are Other Than Mexican nationals, which causes significant increases in processing time (administrative/criminal casework) and requirements for long term detention. Each morning the HHS ORR Intake Center has approximately 30-90 initial placement referral requests pending from the previous night. The national discharge rate of UACs is approximately 80-90 per day. There are approximately 5,000 beds available in the HHS ORR network that service approximately 25,000 UACs annually. UTEP and the National Center for Border Security and Immigration (NCBSI) http://ncbsi.utep.edu/documents/UAC%20Project%20Site%20Visits/UTEP%20NCBSI%20Final%20Report%20March%2020%202014.pdf
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? The office of the Texas Comptroller has no authority or influence over any medical procedures including abortions. That being said as an Ordained Minister I personally believe all life is sacred especially that of new innocent life. It is not the government’s place to dictate medical procedures that is between a patient and their doctor the same as a priest and their parishioner or lawyer and their client. These are corner stones to our society as relationships that shall not be violated by any doctrine of law. I would always encourage adoption over abortion, and am grateful that my mother chose full term. Any decisions as for what is best for someone else are not mine or anyone other than that person’s to make. It is however the governments place to set safety standards acceptable practitioner minimum guidelines that must be follow to protect the public interest.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? Infrastructure problems make Texas less attractive to business, which concerns me greatly as Texas Comptroller being one of my responsibilities are to the growth of the Texas economy. With a workforce of over 12 million people, an unemployment rate that has been below the national average for over six years and as the national leader in exports for the 11th year in a row, Texas is one the most successful economies in this nation. By sticking to the conservative principles of low taxes, smart regulations, fair courts and restrained spending, we have made Texas the best place to live, work, raise a family and start a business. Texas gets 1,500 new arrivals daily, many of whom add to the congestion on its roads. Several business leaders and legislators say that infrastructure problems stem from a lack of political will to do anything that could be called a tax or a fee increase. In El Paso, Interstate 10 has become such a patchwork that the interstate is failing. Within the next three to five years, the transportation department will have to come up with funds and figure out a way to rebuild it without having an alternative route to detour traffic. The constitutional amendment, which will go on the ballot in November 2014, would put up $1.2 billion a year -- a little more than a quarter of the money the state needs to maintain the highway system at its current level of congestion. It would take another billion a year to ease the problems in El Paso, which is a standard example across the state. The biggest problem in Texas however is water, voters will be asked in November to put up $2 billion from the state's rainy-day fund to deal with a water shortage magnified by a historic drought. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn used Texas' water problems against Perry to draw business to Illinois.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? The 2014 -2015 State All Funding Spending via the General Appropriation Act or budget shows the greatest amount spent on Education is Texas’ history. Approximately 37% of the $200 billion 2014 – 2015 Appropriation equates to $74 billion. Where’s your tax dollars going? The problem is where to take money from? What would you cut to fund something else? We only have $100 billion annually in taxation revenue. Please take a look at the General Appropriations Act 2014-2015 http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Documents/GAA/General_Appropriations_Act_2014-15.pdf
As I have stated countless times in my Facebook page, and on my website. I am proud of the level of transparency the State of Texas strives for and will be proud to carry on the legacy. Before we can start cutting taxes, we first have to understand where the money is being spent.
Drawing on my experience as the Financial IT Systems Administrator for NASA, I will publish an easy to understand budget that follows graphically the organizational chart of the State of Texas. I will create an interactive system that shows the Biannual General Appropriations Act in a graphic flow chart by department and their inter-connectivity. It will be something along the lines of what my friends at Time-plots Information Graphics Products produces.http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0177/6150/t/2/assets/WATERMARK-DNT-0712.png
Recently on my web portal I posted a Pie chart that encompasses the entire Texas General Appropriations for all funds, for 2014 & 2015 because of the level of misdirection and misleading comments. I was actually questioned by people upon posting to site my source for the graph because they believe education had been cut and teachers were going to get fired and schools would close, because that's what they were told. Meanwhile they had no idea that public education in in Texas is over 1/3 of the entire budget. If we don't know what we are spending our money on, how can we know what we can cut or do without?
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? Texas is one of just six states, along with the District of Columbia, that doesn't permit citizens to openly display a legally registered handgun. On that issue, Texas finds itself in the company of states including California, New York and Illinois, even as Texas has loose restrictions around the sale, licensing and registration of firearms. Effective September 1, 2007 a person who can legally possess a firearm may possess or carry a handgun in motor vehicle (including a recreational vehicle with living quarters) and watercraft that is owned by or under the lawful control of the person. However, the firearm must be concealed, the person may not be engaged in criminal activity, and also may not be a member of “Criminal Street Gang.” The person may also carry the firearm to and from his vehicle without a license. (See Texas Penal Code 46.02 (a). However, DPS recommends that you seek the advice of an attorney with any questions regarding the unlicensed carrying of firearms. On March 27, 2007, Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 378 into law, making Texas a "Castle Doctrine" state which came into effect September 1, 2007. Residents lawfully occupying a dwelling may use deadly force against a person who "unlawfully, and with force, enters or attempts to enter the dwelling", or who unlawfully and with force removes or attempts to remove someone from that dwelling, or who commits or attempts to commit a "qualifying" felony such as "aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery" (TPC 9.32(b)). Senate Bill 378 also contains a "Stand Your Ground" clause; a person who has a legal right to be wherever he/she is at the time of a defensive shooting has no "duty to retreat" before being justified in shooting. The "trier of fact" (the jury in a jury trial, otherwise the judge) may not consider whether the person retreated when deciding whether the person was justified in shooting (TPC 9.32(c,d)). In addition, two statutes of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code protect people who justifiably threaten or use deadly force. Chapter 86 prohibits a person convicted of a misdemeanor or felony from filing suit to recover any damages suffered as a result of the criminal act or any justifiable action taken by others to prevent it or to apprehend the person. Chapter 83 of the same code states that a person who used force or deadly force that is justified under TPC Chapter 9 may not be sued for personal injury or death of the individual against whom the force was used.
Green Party Deb Shafto Did not respond to questionnaire
Commissioner of the General Land Office
Republican George P. Bush
Occupation and/or main source of income: Energy Consultant
City of your residence: Austin, Texas
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: www.GeorgePforTexas.org
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 serve as Chairman of the Dallas/Fort Worth Celebration of Reading, which raises $1 million annually for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. I served as 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.
Past public offices you have run for or held: N/A
Why are you the best candidate for this office? My professional skill set is a great match for the job description of Texas Land Commissioner. The GLO oversees the Permanent School Fund and I will bring my experience as a former public school teacher to that task. The GLO oversees oil and gas drilling on state-owned land and I have spent years as an entrepreneur in the energy business. And the GLO oversees many veterans’ programs and I am a veteran of the Afghanistan campaign and I still serve as a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer.
What are your top issues? Reforming public schools, increase energy jobs through oil and gas drilling on state-owned land and providing excellent services to our veterans.
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 believe the voters can control term limits by voting out ineffective public officials.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? I am a little leery on gambling overall and would definitely stand against any further expansion of gambling or use of the lottery.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? No.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? I oppose casino gambling.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? The federal government must do its constitutional duty and secure the border.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? I absolutely agree and am proud to stand up for life.
What are your priorities for improving Texas’ infrastructure? Outside of public education, our state's priorities must include delivering water, handling our transportation needs, and building out a port infrastructure on our Gulf coast. So the rainy day fund proposition this past year was a step in the right direction in terms of water. The next legislative session will deal with transportation. I want to be an advocate for finding responsible ways to make our expenditures more cost effective. And we must ensure that transportation funding actually goes to roads and highways and not studies and administration.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? During the last legislative session, the Texas Legislature took a step in the right direction but there is so much more that we can do. I think to improve education there are some tactical reforms that need to be implemented, like more school choice and more charter schools. Clearly school funding will be one of the most critical issues facing the upcoming legislative session in 2015.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? I’m proud to carry an A-rating from the NRA. I'm a strong supporter of our existing CHL law on the books. I still am a strong advocate for second amendment rights for folks to, in a responsible way, enjoy their firearms and for recreational purposes. I myself carry a CHL and own several weapons.
Democrat John Cook
Occupation and/or main source of income: I have retired from several positions, including a 25 year
telecommunications career and most recently as the mayor of El Paso. My main source of revenue is my
retirement portfolio of IRAs and Social Security payments.
City of your residence: El Paso
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: 915-351-0923; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.cookfortexas.com
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: I am the longest serving elected municipal official in El Paso’s history. I was named the 5th in the World by the World’s Mayor Association for my stand on civil rights, I am a past president of the Texas Municipal League which represents 1300 cities and towns across the state. I am a past board member of the National League of Cities. I am the cofounder of the US-Mexico Border Mayors Association which consists of 37 mayors from both countries. I’ve been active with the not-for-profit agencies in my community and as a volunteer for organized youth sports.
Past public offices you have run for or held: City Council Representative/El Paso City Council. Mayor of El Paso
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I will bring business, financial, and government experience to the office. My background and skills in both the public and private sector will benefit the agency and the people of Texas.
What are your top issues? There needs to be a balance between maximizing the return on the State’s assets, protecting the environment, and ensuring that private property rights are not trampled. We need to provide Texas veterans with the benefits we promised them. We need to fund education so that every child in Texas has access to a world class education.
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 more than likely serve a maximum of two terms. I personally believe that Texas voters already have the ability to limit the number of terms any elected official can serve.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? While I have never purchased a lottery ticket myself, I do believe that the lottery provides a source of revenue to fund education.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? Yes.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? I support it in some limited form if the proceeds were used to fund education and transportation infrastructure. The State loses revenue to our neighboring communities.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? I am assuming that you are speaking about the flood or undocumented children from Central America. Dealing with these asylum seekers is a federal government responsibility. The numbers have been decreasing in the past several weeks and this is an indication that the response to the crisis has been successful. The federal government needs to look at the root cause of the exodus, not just deal with the effect. Lets focus on the starting point, not wait at the finish line.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? While I am a pro life democrat, I believe in upholding the laws of the State. Every elected official in this State takes an oath to uphold, protect and defend the constitution of the United States and the laws of this State to the best of his/her ability. We don’t get to choose which laws we will uphold, protect, or defend.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? Unfortunately, the problem with our infrastructure shortcomings is rooted in a gasoline tax that has not been raised since 1993, is not indexed to inflation, and is exacerbated by vehicles that get better gas mileage than they did 20 years ago. In response to that, as the mayor of El Paso, we were the first city in the state to use transportation reinvestment zones to meet local transportation challenges. Lacking action by Congress, states and local communities will need to find innovative ways to fund infrastructure projects.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? From my perspective, and based on the current legal status, it would seem that the funding may be unconstitutional.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? I prefer Texas Concealed Handgun licensing and join most law enforcement officials who oppose open carry for tactical reasons. In addition, I fear that a poorly drafted open-carry bill could lead to large numbers of businesses posting their property as off-limits to anyone carrying a handgun, whether openly or concealed.
Libertarian Justin Knight Did not respond to questionnaire
Green Party Valerie Alessi Did not respond to questionnaire
Commissioner of Agriculture
Republican Sid Miller Did not respond to questionnaire
Democrat Jim Hogan Did not respond to questionnaire
Libertarian David (Rocky) Palmquist Did not respond to questionnaire
Green Party Kenneth Kendrick
Occupation and/or main source of income: Public Speaking / house cleaning
City of your residence: Wilson
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Food Safety and ethics advocate speaking with the Government Accountability Project at numerous Universities
Past public offices you have run for or held: None - Glad to say
Why are you the best candidate for this office? Well when it comes to Mr. Hogan, who knows? He has said very little to nothing and made a mockery of the office. Mr. Miller is talking about issues that have nothing to do with TDA. For example on his web site he proclaims “Fighting for families and religious freedoms Sid Miller cut $64 million dollars from Planned Parenthood and passed the Sonogram Bill. He also list “Protecting our 2ndamendment rights an avid rancher and hunter, Sid Miller believes in the Constitutional right to bear arms.” It does not matter if you agree or disagree with these issues; they have nothing to do with being AG Commissioner. I do not know if it is because he is seeking higher office, or if it is that Mr. Miller just wants to avoid dealing with the issues that are pertinent to the office. Why me? Unlike all my opponents, I do not own any business that would benefit me personally when elected (such as being a rancher,) Of course someone who owns a business wants to be the one in charge of the laws that over see that business. I am not a career Politician, I am known for my integrity as a Whistle Blower, and I will bring strong ethical values back to the office, and will not have any conflict of interest that would cloud my judgment as the Commissioner has to balance economic development with consumer protection. I am the only candidate talking about multiple issues that are relevant to the office. I also worked for the TX. Dept of Human Services for 8 year, working my way up to Assistant to the Program Manager. I have a better understanding on how to run a State agency than my opposition. I have also worked as a Pest Control Tech. and a Food Testing lab, areas my opposition is not as familiar with. It is one thing to own your own ranch, it is much different to head an executive branch agency.
What are your top issues? 1) Food Safety – I want Texas to be known as the safest place for producers to buy from thus not only keeping people safe, but also increasing our economic viability. 2) Corporate Accountability- After Blowing the Whistle on Peanut Corp of America, it was discovered that 355 facilities had never registered with the Dept of Health, thus breaking the law, none were fined. All Agencies must work together to ensure this does not happen again (Peanut Corp had TX Dept of Ag Organic Certification, but was not even Registered with the Texas Dept. of Health.Had the Dept. of Ag had done its job properly on any one of its three inspections, lives would have been saved. Here is a Hyperlink to the Story. 3) Finding, stopping, and referring for prosecution those that commit fraud waste and abuse in both Government and Corporate settings. Employees will have an open door straight to me on that issue, and I have already heard plenty of employees tell me, in confidence, that these problems exist. As far as what I have done. Since being known as a Whistle Blower I have traveled the country with the Government Accountability Project speaking at Universities on Ethics and Whistle Blowing all over the country. I have tried to keep the public up to date via social media on food recalls, and worked closely with the FDA to ensure Peanut Corp of America went to trial.
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 2 term limit
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? I believe we need to keep the lotto, but would like to see more of the money end up in the schools, as was intended.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? Running for Agriculture Commissioner, this is an area I am not as familiar with, however I would rather see Texan's spending that money here as opposed to out of state.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? Running for Agriculture Commissioner, this is an area I am not as familiar with, however I would rather see Texan's spending that money here as opposed to out of state.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? To me it SHOULD be a federal issue as it is their duty to protect out borders. However, since this is not happening, we (Texas Executive Branch need to work with the Central American and Mexico Government to help stop the crisis where it starts.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? Although as Agriculture Commissioner, Abortion is something our staff should not be taxed with, however my personal feelings are that the bill was Passed to By Rick Perry knowing this would benefit his family and should not have been done.
What are your priorities for improving Texas’ infrastructure? WE have the money in the budget to update old bridges and roads, and our Ag counts on FM roads. I believe we already have one of the best highway systems in America.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? No I do not, many revisions need to be made, now as Agriculture Commissioner my office would only have authority over the school lunch program, that I would like to see more local control.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? Only if a training course is passed (such as I did for CHL) We do not want people showing off.
Republican Ryan Sitton
Occupation and/or main source of income: Owner and CEO of PinnacleAIS, an engineering and technology company focused on asset integrity systems.
City of your residence: Friendswood
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: Submit email via ryansitton.com
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement:St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Member; Texas A&M Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board, Member; Associate Republicans of Texas, Board Member; Pasadena Conservative Citizens Club, Board Member; Board Member of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce; Pasadena Public School System Foundation’s Industry Partner of the Year.
Past public offices you have run for or held: Ran for state representative, HD-24 in 2012.
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I have worked in the energy industry my entire professional career and will be the first engineer to serve on the Railroad Commission in over fifty years. I’m a committed conservative who will put my expertise to use to ensure Texas continues to maximize its production and leverage our natural resources to keep our economy strong and position Texas to lead the way to American energy independence.
What are your top issues? My top priority is to address some of the big challenges facing the energy industry and implement smart solutions to make the commission as efficient and effective as possible. Some of the big challenges include: water usage and recycle, seismicity, updating rules for the advanced and enhanced drilling techniques that have become more prolific, dealing with contentious jurisdictional issues and updating technology and permit processing procedures to better serve the public.
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 be a strong and effective public servant and let the voters judge whether they want me to keep doing the job.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? This question is not relevant to the Railroad Commission.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? This question is not relevant to the Railroad Commission.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? This question is not relevant to the Railroad Commission.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? Whatever it takes to secure the border because the federal government has completely failed/refused to do the job.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? My wife and I are both pro-life, and take personal steps to help provide pregnant mothers with options other than abortion. However, this question is not relevant to the Railroad Commission.
What are your priorities for improving Texas’ infrastructure? The oil and gas industry that the Railroad Commission regulates has contributed billions of dollars to the state’s coffers. I will work diligently to create an environment where operators can continue to invest with confidence and responsibly maximize oil and gas production. Included in this must be a long term plan for the growth of the industry and the state as a whole, including the infrastructure to support that growth. I plan to work with the legislature to provide as much insight as possible to assist in putting that plan together.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? This question is not relevant to the Railroad Commission.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? This question is not relevant to the Railroad Commission but I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
Democrat Steve Brown
Occupation and/or main source of income: Director of Small Business Initiatives for Houston METRO
City of your residence: Missouri City, Texas
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: Phone: 832-786-9671; email@example.com; www.electstevebrown.com
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: My career spans well over 15 years of legislative, political, and advocacy experience. This includes: White House Congressional Liaison, Director of Small Business Initiatives for Houston METRO, Chairman of the Fort Bend County Democratic Party, the American Heart Association Vice President for Public Advocacy, Budget Analyst for the Texas House Appropriations Committee, and successful small business owner.
Past public offices you have run for or held: Chairman of the Fort Bend County Democratic Party for two terms.
Why are you the best candidate for this office? The Railroad Commission needs to be reformed to work better for all Texans. Currently, the Commission is heavily influenced by the industry they are meant to regulate. As a result, the voices of Texas taxpayers are buried in an avalanche of campaign cash. The public has lost trust in the fairness of the regulatory process. Reforming the agency is simply the right thing to do in the public interest and to ensure that we achieve more appropriate balance at the Commission. I am not an industry insider. I practice the politics of fairness, and I will balance energy industry influence with the needs of landowners, community stakeholders and the preservation of our water resources, seeking common ground and ensuring that all Texans have a voice in our energy future. I have a proven record of influencing policy outcomes in state government, both fiscally and statutorily. I’m the only candidate in the race that seems to be aware that the general public lacks a substantial role at the RRC.
What are your top issues? REFORM THE RAILROAD COMMISSION. I believe that The Railroad Commission needs to be reformed to work better for all Texans. Currently, the Railroad Commission is heavily influenced by the industry they are meant to regulate. As a result, the voices of Texas taxpayers are buried in an avalanche of campaign cash. The public has lost trust in the fairness of the regulatory process. Reforming the agency is simply the right thing to do in the public interest and to ensure that we achieve more appropriate balance at the Commission. First, we have to balance the playing field by creating an Office of Public Advocacy that will give taxpayers and advocacy organizations the resources and experts to help them make their case before hearing officers and field inspectors. This Office would report to the Legislature thereby giving them a bit more autonomy from the prevailing RRC culture. Second, the Railroad Commission has failed to reassure the public that it can police bad actors in the oil and gas industry. We need to increase the number of inspectors in the field and make sure they have the tools to properly monitor daily activity. When violations occur we need to act decisively to deter future transgressions. It's in everyone's best interest that this agency establishes industry best practices and requires businesses to consistently meet or exceed them.
EMINENT DOMAIN COMMON CARRIER REGULATIONS. The Railroad Commission should include more transparency and notification procedures in its “common carrier” rule changes. The process for granting common carrier status should always be rigorous, open and transparent. That includes notifying affected landowners and municipalities via mail of a pending application. Notices should also be placed in the local paper and other periodicals to ensure that the public is made aware, and the Commission should post a link to applications on the front page of its website. These changes would ensure that key stakeholders are kept informed early in the process. In addition, any rule change must allow for sufficient opportunities for public comment prior to determining the final status of a case. During that period, affected parties should be able to learn more about the specifics of a proposed pipeline, and whether it should be classified as a common carrier.
ELIMINATE FRESHWATER FRACKING AND REDUCE WATER CONTAMINATION BY 2020. We have a perfect storm of drought, population growth and hydraulic fracturing looming over our state. It is imperative that the Texas Railroad Commission chart a path to preserve and protect our water in a way that is not cost prohibitive to the energy industry while ensuring that our state has an abundance of clean water for generations to come.
Here are the key points of my Water Conservation Plan:
1. Research and Development Grants. Develop cost-efficient next generation technologies to recycle frack water, reuse wastewater from other sources or create less water intensive methods for extracting energy resources. As a result of our energy boom, the Texas “Rainy Day Fund” is expected to top $8 billion when appropriators take up the budget next Fall. I will work with leaders during the next legislative session to secure $50 million in research and development grants that will go to businesses on the cutting edge of developing the technology we need to sustain our energy dominance. Money from this appropriation would also be used to provide the Texas Railroad Commission with the necessary resources it may need to administer this program.
2. Tax Credits. Incentivize operators to use recycled waste water for fracking. Companies using recycled frack water will be offered a severance tax credit to encourage greater participation and offset costs associated with using recycled water.
3. Incremental Phase Out of Disposal Well Permits. By 2017, gradually beginphasing out permits for injection wells, disposal wells and disposal pits. No new disposal or injection sites will be permitted by the RRC by 2020. Disposing fracturing fluid into a pit or well is not an effective long term solution for our state and environment.
4. Empowering Groundwater Conservation Districts. Operators will be required to request permits from groundwater conservation districts to extract water and report usage volume on a monthly basis. To achieve adequate monitoring of water usage, authority must be extended to those districts that do not have adequate information to properly manage the water in their districts. Additionally, groundwater districts must be allowed to protest disposal/injection well permits even if those sites fall outside of district boundaries. Their input is essential to ensure that wastewater does not potentially contaminate fresh water sources.
5. Property Rights Protections. Groundwater property rights must be defined on a per-acre ownership basis to attach to the surface owner’s real property. Small farmers and ranchers want this.
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
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? No position on this issue
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? No position on this issue
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? Texas voters should be given the opportunity to vote for or against casino gambling.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? No position on this issue.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? A woman should have the right to make her own personal health care decisions.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? There is a need for infrastructure improvements throughout the state, especially in the Barnett and Eagle Ford shale areas.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? I do not believe that the State Legislature has been adequately funding our schools. It is unfortunate that the courts have had to get involved, when our responsibility and commitment to our children should be affirmed by providing the resources needed to educate the next generation of Texas leaders.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? No opinion on this issue.
Libertarian Mark A. Miller
Occupation and/or main source of income: CEO/CTO/Founder of a small software company
City of your residence: Austin
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://markmiller4texas.org; @mark4texas
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Active in Libertarian Party of Texas; various committee memberships, Society of Petroleum Engineers; member, Helium Reserve Committee, National Research Council; board member, Jung Society of Austin; officer, Westlake High School Orchestra Parents Association; Cubmaster, Cub Scout Pack #72
Past public offices you have run for or held: None.
Why are you the best candidate for this office? Because of my extensive petroleum engineering experience and expertise, I am far more qualified than any of my three opponents. I am also the only candidate who truly believes in limited government whose responsibilities should be focused solely on protecting public safety, our common natural resources, the rights of all property owners, and the right to engage in free and prosperous commerce. A truly free society is only possible when everyone’s liberties are fought for, even, and perhaps especially, when they conflict.
What are your top issues? The biggest challenge the Commission faces is a huge deficit of public trust. The Commission has justifiably earned a reputation within the oil and gas industry as being a fair and impartial arbiter of its “inside baseball” conflicts. It is absolutely imperative that the Commission also be seen as serving all of Texas. The Commission must earn the same trust with the public as it has within the oil and gas industry. Increased transparency, regulatory reform, and increased focus on surface property rights would do much to help.
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 only serve one term. I do not believe there should be term limits for Railroad Commissioner.
Should the state keep, kill or expand the Texas lottery? Not relevant to the office I am seeking.
Should Texas allow historical racing at horse and dog tracks? Not relevant to the office I am seeking.
What do you think about casino gambling in Texas? Not relevant to the office I am seeking.
What should Texas do regarding the border crisis? Not relevant to the office I am seeking.
Do you agree with the abortion law passed last year by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? Not relevant to the office I am seeking.
What are your priorities for improving Texas' infrastructure? Not relevant to the office I am seeking.
Do you agree with the school funding plans passed in 2013 and 2011 by the Legislature and now being fought in the courts? Not relevant to the office I am seeking.
Should open carry be allowed in Texas? Not relevant to the office I am seeking.
Green Party Martina Salinas
Age: No response given
Occupation and/or main source of income: Constructor Inspector
City of your residence: Fort Worth
Best way for voters to reach you via phone, email or website: email@example.com
Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: No response given
Past public offices you have run for or held: none
Why are you the best candidate for this office? I am not a career politician, nor am I an industry insider. My only vested interest is protecting the rights of Texas Citizens over the interest of private industry.
What are your top issues? The Texas Railroad Commission was formed by Gov. Jim Hogg and the state legislature in the 1890's ito protect the interest of Texas citizens against a big industry. The TRC has veried off to The TRC needs to get back to its original intent and once again hold the rights of Texas citizens overt the interest of private industry. Private property rights need to protected over the interest of private industry, by limiting private industry from using the rights of the state for profit . By claiming common carrier status and using eminent domain.
The TRC has been very slow to response to the people of Dish, Reno, Azle, and Denton. They and the rest of Texas need solutions.
Texas needs to become a leader in developing efficient sustainable energy. We as a state need to invest and promote alternate energies. Alternate energies such as wind and solar do not have the problems that arise with harvesting fossil fuels. Alternate energy is a great growth market that can result in a many jobs for Texas.
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 finish our my term if elected and I will only be in office for as long as the citizens of Texas need me in office.