Opinion Columns & Blogs

Your right to control government is on some mid-term ballots

A Texas Senate debate goes off the rails: Konni Burton, Beverly Powell on taxes

In a debate on WFAA/Channel 8, Texas state Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) surprises challenger Beverly Powell, a Fort Worth Democrat, over past tax bills from one of Powell's businesses.
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In a debate on WFAA/Channel 8, Texas state Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) surprises challenger Beverly Powell, a Fort Worth Democrat, over past tax bills from one of Powell's businesses.

When voting gets underway on Monday, those of us in Tarrant County will face some choices that deserve our attention beyond the rhetoric and demagoguery that often influence our decisions.

What’s actually at stake is nothing less than preserving our power to decide what we want for ourselves and the future of our hometowns.

The potential loss of that power is at risk as we decide who we want to represent us in the Texas Senate and, in Arlington, a decision on whether we would like to give up our unrestricted ability to choose city council members.

A deeper look at those two critical decisions results in the realization that they deserve more consideration than what may be our first instinct based on party preference or the appeal of a popular idea.

In the race between State Sen. Konni Burton and former Burleson school board president Beverly Powell, we face the decision of retaining our constitutional right to control government or to hand over much of that power to the state.

For too many of us, that question will never be considered because of our partisan passion to vote for the candidate from the party we align ourselves with.

I’m among many Republicans with a life-long record of voting a straight party-line ticket. I fully embrace conservative principles and not the liberal agenda of the Democratic Party.

But there’s a principle that supersedes that instinct, and it is the fundamental right of “we the people” to control government at all levels.

Burton is fully committed to the plans of the formidable Empower Texans cabal operating out of West Texas that believes control belongs to the state and that local governments should not have the power to decide on important matters vital to their communities.

If Empower Texans and their investors, having lavished Burton with more than $500,000 from outside her district, get what they want, citizens and their city, school, and county representatives will lose their collective control.

Seizing economic development opportunities under current Texas law to attract billions in corporate investment that translates to higher levels of public services and lower property taxes for homeowners is a practice Burton wishes to bring to an end.

The powerful job-creating forces of economic development would simply be lost.

Burton says such an outcome is how the free market should work when, in fact, we already have free markets making it possible for corporate investment to go to places where they can find support in deciding where to locate.

Regardless of party affiliation, anyone who wants to deny citizen control and hand power over to the state should cause voters to pause before marking their ballots.

Powell has said, as a member of the state Senate, that she would not support the denial of those fundamental citizen rights and privileges.

Arlington voters are deciding whether they will give up unfettered power to determine who will serve on their city council.

An unsuccessful city council candidate designed a radical plan to retroactively factor in service to remove the mayor and council members from office.

A measure was put on the ballot via a petition drive that seized the fervor for term limits. If approved, it would also ban all others for the rest of their lives from ever serving again after their termination.

Voters should look beyond their zeal for term limits and realize the threat of this measure to the city’s current momentum that has resulted in a period of Arlington’s greatest success.

Mayor Jeff Williams has announced an initiative to gather widespread citizen involvement in designing a smarter and more reasonable plan that would protect citizen rights to choose candidates to represent them on the city council.

A vote against the ballot measure would provide the opportunity to see the full development of a more sensible term limit plan to restructure city council service.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor, served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency and lectures at UT Arlington.
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