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VOTER ALERT: GAWTP Announces First Round of Endorsements 2/19/10

February 18, 2010

GAWTP releases first round of March 2 Primary Endorsements

For Immediate Release Endorsement Analysis will be posted on www.GAWTP.com

Contact: JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director, Grassroots America – We the People

(903) 894-7204 or cell (903) 360-2858 or e-mail jafleming3@juno.com

Smith County, Texas – GAWTP Executive Director JoAnn Fleming today announced the organization’s first round of candidate endorsements in several contested March 2 Primary Election races.  Fleming set forth the organization’s endorsement process and the supporting analysis for the endorsements.

Fleming declared, “Endorsement of a candidate is a serious matter.  To paraphrase Samuel Adams’ warning regarding the seriousness of voting, we do not consider an endorsement to be ‘making a present or a compliment to please an individual’ or to appease interested groups.  We do not endorse for the sake of compliance with conventional wisdom regarding the odds of winning, nor do we submit to party expediency; therefore, it is with great pleasure that we announce these endorsements.  We will do everything we can to ensure these candidates are successful; and if successful, we will also do everything we can to hold them accountable for the oath they take to serve the People.”

The GAWTP endorsement process:

After holding candidate forums, reviewing incumbent voting records, candidate questionnaires, and campaign materials, the GAWTP Board of Directors may choose to endorse in select races.  The Board of Directors may also choose not to endorse in races where no candidate clearly exemplifies the standards, core values, and principles set forth in GAWTP’s Preamble and Mission Statement.

While GAWTP networks with many statewide conservative public policy groups and political action committees and highly values and respects the work of those sister organizations, GAWTP remains independent and does not endorse a candidate simply because “everyone else is doing it.”

The GAWTP Board sets a very high standard for granting endorsements.  The Board carefully considers evidence of good character and judgment, qualifications, temperament, background, incumbent voting records, and public record of past actions.  In races selected for endorsement, a three-fourths majority vote (7 of 9 board members) in support of a candidate is required for endorsement.

Pursuant to Texas Ethics Commission rules and statutes, Grassroots America – We the People is registered as a General Purpose Political Action Committee; GAWTP has also filed as a 527 with the Internal Revenue Service.  GAWTP has met the necessary legal requirements to endorse candidates at all levels of government and to take positions on legislation and ballot measures.

First Round GAWTP Endorsements – March 2nd Primary Races (analysis follows listing):

Texas Governor: Republican Primary candidates:  Rick Perry (I), Kay Bailey Hutchison, Debra Medina.

GAWTP unanimous rejection of U. S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison;

GAWTP endorsement: Perry vs. Medina – no endorsement (analysis follows)

Texas House District 7: State Representative Tommy Merritt (I), challenger David Simpson.

GAWTP endorsement:  David Simpson (analysis follows)

Texas State Senate District 2: Bob Deuell (I), challenger Sharon Russell.

GAWTP endorsement:  Sharon Russell (analysis follows)

Smith County Commissioner Precinct 2: Bill McGinnis (I), challenger Cary Nix

GAWTP endorsement:  Cary Nix (analysis follows)

Smith County Clerk: Open seat due to retiring incumbent county clerk.  Russell Buffington vs. Karen Phillips

GAWTP endorsement:  Karen Phillips (analysis follows)

241st State District Judge: Jack Skeen (I), challenger Jeff Baynham

GAWTP endorsement: no endorsement; three-fourths (7 of 9) majority vote requirement not met.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 3: James Meredith (I), challenger Steve Dunklin

GAWTP endorsement: no endorsement; three-fourths (7 of 9) majority vote requirement not met.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 2: Pending candidate forum

Other Texas House and State Level Judicial Races: Under review

 

Grassroots America – We the People PAC

Rejects Kay Bailey Hutchison for Texas Governor

February 18, 2010

For immediate release

Contact: JoAnn Fleming, GAWTP Executive Director, (903) 894-7204

GAWTP announces its strong rejection of Kay Bailey Hutchison for Governor of Texas.  After almost 17 years in the U. S. Senate, Kay Bailey Hutchison has become a Washington insider.  Her overall record gives conservatives no reason to vote for her.

Hutchison voted in favor of TARP (bank bailouts) in 2008, but voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus); however, according to a February 16, 2010, Wall Street Journal article, “Democrats Target Stimulus Critics Who Sought Funds,” Hutchison co-signed a letter with U. S. Senator John Cornyn in support of a stimulus grant for the Port of Houston Authority for its Clean Air Strategy Plan. In the letter, Hutchison and Cornyn state the Port of Houston Authority “has informed me of the positive impact this grant will have in the region by serving as a foundation for PHA’s Clean Air Strategy Plan, creating jobs, and significantly reducing diesel emissions.” According to the WSJ investigation, Houston received millions of dollars in diesel funding.  This brand of politically opportunistic hypocrisy continues to fuel the angered conservative movement.

Hutchison’s record as a champion ear-marker is irrefutable.  Citizens Against Government Waste named her “Porker of the Month” for October 2009 because of her request for 149 “bringing home the bacon” projects worth $1.6 billion in 2010.   Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has certainly done her part to build the monster Big Government we now have – a government we cannot afford – in terms of our finances or liberty.

In campaign mode, Hutchison talks tough on illegal immigration, but after almost two decades in the U.S. Senate, her record speaks for itself – case in point – the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.  She voted against an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to enforce existing border security and immigration laws before amnesty could ever be granted to illegal immigrants.  These provisions of law would have included:  control over maritime borders, full fencing required by law, integrated alien databases, and ending “sanctuary city” policies.

Hutchison’s campaign material would have you believe she is pro-life.  She isn’t. In 2003, she voted for the amendment that pro-abortion Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) attempted to attach to the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.  Hutchison voted for this amendment which endorsed the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision, reaffirmed abortion as a constitutional right, and urged that it not be overturned. She has also served on the Advisory Board of the WISH List (Women in the Senate and House) Political Action Committee, which contributes to pro-abortion female Republican candidates for Congress.  We don’t buy her promise to govern as a pro-life governor and don’t want her near the judicial appointment process for the Texas Supreme Court!

Hutchison is wrong for Texas Governor and needs retiring from the United States Senate.  ###


Grassroots America – We the People PAC

Analysis of “No Endorsement” for Texas Governor

Perry vs. Medina

February 18, 2010

For immediate release

Contact: JoAnn Fleming, GAWTP Executive Director, (903) 894-7204

GAWTP Guiding Principles of Endorsement and the Endorsement Process

Endorsement of any candidate is a serious matter.  To paraphrase Samuel Adams’ warning regarding the seriousness of voting, we do not consider an endorsement to be “making a present or a compliment to please an individual” or to appease interested groups.  We do not endorse for the sake of compliance with conventional wisdom regarding the odds of winning, nor do we submit to party expediency. We believe any candidate – especially incumbents – must earn the People’s vote.  We also recognize that true public service is a sacrifice that few people are willing to make, but most are willing to harshly criticize.  We are not looking for perfection.  We are looking for dependable, principled statesmanlike leaders among imperfect men and women.

The Board of Directors may choose not to endorse in races where no single candidate clearly exemplifies the standards, core values, and principles set forth in GAWTP’s Preamble and Mission Statement.

While GAWTP networks with many statewide conservative public policy groups and political action committees and highly values and respects the work of those sister organizations, GAWTP remains independent and does not endorse a candidate simply because “everyone else is doing it.”

The GAWTP Board sets a very high standard for granting endorsements.  The Board carefully considers evidence of good character and judgment, qualifications, temperament, background, incumbent voting records, and public record of past actions.  In races selected for endorsement, a three-fourths majority vote (7 of 9 board members) in support of a candidate is required for endorsement.

The Board of Directors of GAWTP has determined not to make an endorsement in the race for governor between incumbent Rick Perry and Debra Medina.  There are things we like about both candidates, but there are things that greatly trouble us about both candidates – serious issues which remain unresolved in our minds – even after hours of research and listening to both candidates.  The following is a summary of what we consider to be strengths and weaknesses in both Governor Perry and Mrs. Medina. No attempt has been made to capture every nuance of every single issue, strength, or flaw.  

Debra Medina

South Texas registered nurse, rancher, entrepreneur

February 18, 2010

Debra Medina brings laser-like focus to critical issues in this race.  During the debates, she was able to effectively slice through spin from the other two campaigns.  Medina raised the stakes in the Republican Primary race for governor by effectively articulating:  the need to return to Constitutional government and reaffirm State Sovereignty; the eroding Texas economy; the immediate need to put the brakes on state government spending by going beyond the “business as usual” across-the-board percentage cuts and reviewing the purpose and mission of all state agencies and their effectiveness; the necessity of reducing the size and scope of government to expand liberty; and, the credible alternative to property taxes model launched by the highly respected Texas Public Policy Foundation. [Sources: http://www.texaspolicy.com/pdf/2009-04-taxswap-laffer-posting.pdf (04/28/09) and http://www.texaspolicy.com/commentaries_single.php?report_id=2946 (02/02/10) Similarly, the concern Medina has raised about the growth in state bonded indebtedness is a valid point – especially within the context of the soaring federal budget deficits, federal debt, and rising local government bonded indebtedness.  Today, we have a government that we, our children, and our grandchildren cannot afford.  Medina has effectively highlighted this fact by bringing a balancing dose of reality to the overly rosy picture painted by the Perry campaign.  The fact is – Texas has seen twelve straight months of decline in sales tax collections and eight straight months of double-digit declines in sales tax collections. Tough budget decisions are ahead for state and local governments in a climate where a majority of taxpayers are strongly opposed to any tax increases.

As a registered nurse, a former nursing home director, and an entrepreneur in the medical billing and consulting business, Medina speaks knowledgeably about health care issues and brings to the table practical expertise Perry does not possess.  This is a valuable asset for the necessary review and reform of health care policy issues for the state of Texas and for the upcoming fight against federal health care and health insurance mandates. Troubling is Medina’s lack of clarity and specifics on illegal immigration. In one interview (Peter Morrison Report), she gave the rather puzzling answer that she supported a border fence in “densely populated urban areas only.”  In the Belo debate, neither Medina nor Perry embraced the use of E-verify as at least a uniform and more efficient method to end hiring of illegal aliens for jobs that surely some unemployed citizens would now want.   While she is clear on the need to end taxpayer-funded social programs as a draw to illegal aliens, Medina does not address interior enforcement for private sector employers.

We are troubled by details surrounding Medina’s lawsuit against the Republican Party of Texas for a convention that did not go her way regarding changes in convention rules and operation of the convention.  We are uncomfortable with a mindset that caused her to use the court system to sue over issues that are best dealt with at the grassroots level by a campaign to inform and persuade a majority of delegates that change is needed.

In addition, we are concerned with Mrs. Medina’s answers to three questions on the Liberty Institute’s (Formerly Free Market Foundation) Voter Guide:

http://texaslegislativeupdate.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/2010-primary-voters-guide.pdf or at the Heritage Alliance web site: http://ivoterguide.com/CandidateAnswers.aspx?x=918&y=544

Medina’s answers (voter guide did not indicate the candidate offered additional comments):

  • Strongly Favors: 1. TRANSPORTATION TAX: A state law permitting local governments the option of holding an election for a local transportation tax to fund local transportation needs.
  • Favors: 4. LEGALIZED GAMBLING: Legalize casino-style gambling in order to dedicate a portion of the revenues to property tax reduction or to increase money for education.
  • Strongly Opposes: 12. FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT: Texas should ratify a Federal Marriage Amendment, which limits marriage nationwide to a man and a woman.

Finally, we must acknowledge two controversial, but frequently mentioned issues:

  1. Medina’s lack of practical public policy experience and no previous experience in holding elected office in a lower position. While there are indeed some examples of true statesmen who ran for a higher office, won, and governed well, each office is different. Texas has what is considered to be a “weak governor” form of government as compared to other states.  The significant formal power is in political appointments – many of which have six year terms; however, executive appointments and removals must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the state legislature.  This means a Texas governor must be able to build strong coalitions of support for such appointments.  The real power for a Texas governor is in the informal powers of persuasion and the skillful use of the bully pulpit in order to build both public support and political will to push policy and legislative reforms. If a Texas governor cannot build strong coalitions of support, the governor gets nothing accomplished.  No amount of passion, strong beliefs, or principle can get around the need to build coalitions of support because everything must pass through the Texas legislature. Practical experience in public policy development and problem-solving from either an appointment to task forces, boards, and commissions or from holding lower elected office can sharpen someone like Debra Medina and provide coalition-building skills necessary to implement vision and conviction.
  2. Medina’s shaky answer to Glenn Beck’s question regarding whether or not she believes our government was directly involved in orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
    She later clarified her response in a press release, but her response is being undermined by folks identifying themselves as her supporters and avowed “9/11 Truthers”.  Their impassioned support of Medina, married with vulgar, vein-popping trashing of Beck splashed across the Internet – along with all manner of conspiracy theories – is not the kind of volunteer help Medina needs right now.

 

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Rick Perry

Longest-serving Governor of Texas – 10 years

February 18, 2010

A summary of Governor Perry’s strengths:

Social issues:  opposes abortion and legalization of gay marriage;

Led the successful effort for tort reform, making Texas a friendly environment for the medical profession which improves access to quality health care;

Refusal of $700 million in federal stimulus funds for education; opposes federal education mandates;

Pro-active coalition-building with other governors and state attorneys general to assert the constitutional rights of states as guaranteed under the 10th Amendment to push back against “one size fits all,” socialized medicine/federal health care legislation and accompanying unfunded mandates;

Legal challenge to EPA rulings that greenhouse gasses in the state are a health threat; This is a strong push back from the Governor as it relates to federal government overreach with Cap and Trade and federal agency edicts;

Initiative for Texas Taxpayer Bill of Rights –  a set of taxpayer protections, including a call for constitutional amendments for spending caps and supermajority approval for any tax increase (we wish he’d done this years ago);

Building and maintaining a friendly business climate – led successful charge with the state legislature to keep state government regulations to a minimum and taxes low to attract and keep new businesses coming to Texas; Texas has the second lowest tax burden in the nation (The Economist, June 2009).  This makes for a family-friendly, opportunity-rich environment for entrepreneurs.  It has also shielded our state from the very severe economic contractions and job losses experienced in many other states; however, the budget challenges ahead are significant and will be difficult to manage.

Finally, Governor Perry is to be commended for resisting the temptation to take the easy way out of solving fiscal problems.  He’s never been one to immediately advocate throwing more money at a problem.

The Significant Negatives of Governor Perry’s Track Record

Governor Perry’s problem with many conservatives is his uneven track record that sometimes veers off course.  Perry has a maddening habit of running a campaign filled with good-sounding conservative rhetoric, but after he’s elected, he “forgets” some of his articulated principles, makes some obviously “unconservative” decisions, some reversals on campaign promises, or simply delays action until it’s time to run again.

Case in point – a secure Texas border – Perry was re-elected in 2006 on the promises of securing the border, but in December 2009, the President of US Border Watch, Curtis Collier, released a statement:  “Border Watch is deeply concerned about the lack of progress being made from both Washington DC and Austin TX in securing our borders from drug smugglers, terrorists and illegal immigrants. The two candidates for the Republican nomination for Governor who currently hold elected offices (that of Senator and Governor) have repeatedly made promises and then turned their backs on these issues or completely reversed their campaign promises. They have consistently failed to protect the rule of law and the citizens of this great state.” The statement ended with an endorsement of Debra Medina.  When a citizens’ group whose sole focus is border security sends this kind of message, it underscores our concerns that Governor Perry is long on talk and short on action when it comes to the number one issue – keeping Texans safe and protecting the private property rights of folks on the border.

As far as we can tell, Perry and his campaign web site are silent on at least two issues the Governor promised State Representative Leo Berman he would pursue if Berman threw his support to Perry rather than running for governor himself:  (1) order all state agencies to remove illegal residents from any state benefit programs, and (2) arrange for the department of homeland security to train some state law enforcement workers so that they are legally able to enforce immigration law.  It is puzzling why there’s absolutely no mention of these issues on the campaign web site.

In the Belo debate, Perry discounted the use of E-verify, “E-Verify would not make a hill of beans’ difference when it comes to what’s happening in America today. You secure the border first, then you can talk about how to identify individuals in an immigration situation.”  While the US Border Watch and the rest of us are waiting on border security enforcement promised in 2006, how about some interior enforcement?  And if E-verify won’t work, what is the solution, Governor?  We have too many Texans out of work and too many students looking for work to give any jobs to people who are here illegally.

Perhaps the most frustrating element of Perry’s stance on benefits for illegal aliens is the issue of in-state tuition breaks.  The best analysis comes from The Lone Star Report: http://www.lonestarreport.org/Home/tabid/38/EntryId/426/Setting-the-record-straight-on-in-state-tuition-for-illegals.aspx Per LSR’s William Lutz: “At tonight’s debate, KHOU’s Len Cannon asked Gov. Rick Perry an excellent question. Noting that U.S. Citizens from other states cannot get in-state tuition at Texas universities, Cannon asked whether it is fair that Texas grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. (A law signed by Governor Rick Perry in 2001 granted illegal immigrant graduates of Texas high schools in-state tuition at state universities and colleges.)”

Lutz continues: “First, many categories of LEGAL immigrants are ineligible for in-state tuition, including student visas.  That’s right — foreign students who obey the law pay more than illegal immigrants whose parents broke the law.

The Texas Administrative Code has a specific section on the types of visas that one can use to establish domicile in Texas for tuition purposes. The citation is 19 TAC, Rule 21.24. The regulations include a chart which states exactly which types of visas are eligible for in-state tuition and which ones are not.

Second, Gov. Rick Perry’s claim that the Texas Education Agency follows up on whether illegal immigrant recipients of in-state tuition actually file for permanent residency is just plain false. The Texas Education Agency has no authority over higher education or determination of residency status for tuition purposes. The Higher Education Coordinating Board is the agency that makes rules on Texas residency for tuition purposes.

The law does not require illegal immigrants who get in-state tuition to apply for legal status. It requires illegal immigrants to sign an affidavit claiming they will apply when they become eligible. For example an illegal immigrant who will never become eligible for permanent residency can honestly sign the affidavit, since no obligation attaches until a person becomes eligible to apply for legal status.

The law in this area is Texas Education Code, Section 54.053(3)(B): if the person is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, an affidavit [shall be filed] stating that the person will apply to become a permanent resident of the United States as soon as the person becomes eligible to apply.

No regulation, law, or policy requires any university or the coordinating board to follow up on whether the application for legal status mentioned in the Education Code is ever filed.

In short, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants discriminates not only against citizens from other states — as stated in the debate. It also discriminates against certain types of legal immigrants.”   [End of Lutz analysis]

This is an issue of interior enforcement.  This benefit encourages law-breaking and further discourages citizens who struggle to pay for a government that we can no longer afford!

Other Perry conflicts with conservatives:

Executive order mandating HPV vaccine for all girls before entering sixth grade, starting in fall 2008.  Perry bypassed the legislature, which was ready to debate the issue.  The legislature reversed the order and Perry defiantly backed down, deciding not to veto the reversal.

Perry’s $145 billion Trans-Texas Corridor, considered a government land-grab, would have invoked an unprecedented volume of property taking by eminent domain.  This massive project would have handed profits to a Spanish-owned toll road company.  Governor Perry finally retreated after a firestorm of public opposition.  In 2007, the legislature placed a moratorium on new public-private toll road partnerships.  The state does not have the money to build this project without the public-private partnership funding.  The moratorium became permanent for all practical purposes since the legislature failed to extend the authority for leases beyond September 1, 2009.

Perry’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani in the last presidential primary appeared to be based on political ambition, rather than principle.

There have been so many, many missed opportunities for early strong leadership from Governor Perry during his ten years in office:  taxpayer protections (spending caps); curbing state spending much sooner with a state hiring freeze and developing a state financial emergency plan; a thorough scrubbing of TxDOT; and ending the diversion of existing gasoline taxes to non-road use.

Finally, we wish Governor Perry would learn a lesson in humility.  People respect elected officials who can look them in the eye and simply admit, “I’m sorry.  I was wrong.”  If he had only taken that approach to the HPV executive order issue, the Trans-Texas Corridor debacle, and the in-state tuition breaks for illegal immigrants, just to name three, he might not be looking at the very real possibility of a runoff election.

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Grassroots America – We the People PAC

Endorses David Simpson in TX House District 7 race

February 18, 2010

For immediate release

Contact: JoAnn Fleming, GAWTP Executive Director, (903) 894-7204

Grassroots America – We the People is pleased to announce its strong endorsement of David Simpson for Texas House District 7.

Simpson’s platform is built on a solid foundation of limited government and freedom under the rule of law.   His direct and well articulated core principles of conservatism – backed up with specific examples of how he would apply these principles to governance — represent the kind of change needed in the Texas legislature.

Mr. Simpson has, with a statesmanlike tone, clearly highlighted his differences with the seven term incumbent – Tommy Merritt.  Simpson has skillfully and accurately documented and exposed Mr. Merritt’s actual voting record for what it is – decidedly un-conservative. On the issue of requiring a photo ID to cast a ballot, Mr. Merritt’s published comments that “Voter ID happens to be a passing issue…that will come and go, just like term limits,” clearly demonstrate how out of touch he is with the voters in both Greg and Smith Counties. Merritt’s voting record on this issue, his support for benefits for illegal immigrants, support for expansion of the business franchise/margins tax, push to impose McCain-Feingold style speech limits on Texas politics, support for creating a new pre-kindergarten taxpayer-funded program, and his ever-shifting stance on the sanctity of human life issue sends one clear message — it is time for Mr. Merritt to be retired by the voters of Texas House District 7.

Simpson has driven home his message to the voters in a true “taking it to the people” shoe leather, door-to-door campaign. Our whole-hearted support goes to David Simpson for a facts-based, principled, statesman-like campaign with real conservative substance.

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Grassroots America – We the People PAC

Endorses Sharon Russell in TX Senate District 2 race

February 18, 2010

For immediate release

Contact: JoAnn Fleming, GAWTP Executive Director, (903) 894-7204

Grassroots America – We the People is pleased to announce its endorsement of Sharon Russell for Texas Senate District 2.

After careful review of two-term State Senate District 2 incumbent Bob Deuell’s voting record, Grassroots America – We the People concludes that Mr. Deuell represents the “liberal light” wing of the Republican Party.  Mr. Deuell’s votes indicate he likes big government — he just wants to make it “efficient” big government.   Voters cannot afford to add tenure to any elected official whose record demonstrates a predisposition toward expanding government.

The following issues represent only a few of the many government expanding votes cast by Bob Deuell – votes which fly in the face of the conservative principles of limited government, fiscal restraint, and personal responsibility:  full day taxpayer-funded pre-kindergarten (estimated to cost Texas taxpayers more than $250 million by 2014); needle exchange program; contraceptives for minor girls, usurping parental authority; expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover those at 300% above the federal poverty level – a step toward socialized medicine; requiring a buy-in option under the children’s health insurance program for families with incomes between 300% to 400% of the federal poverty level; new transportation taxes;  bill to allow cities to sue homeowners for energy conservation or energy efficiency improvements; creation of a new “environmental services” fee for university students.

Challenger Sharon Russell has done an admirable job putting together information about the incumbent’s voting record and contrasting that with her core beliefs.  We like her boldness, her courage, her practical “kitchen table” way of explaining her positions.  Sharon Russell lays out her beliefs in bold colors – not boring pastels.  Although this is Mrs. Russell’s first time to run for elected office, her core principles and values contrasted with the incumbent’s liberal voting record earn Mrs. Russell our endorsement.  It is time to elect more conservatives to the Texas State Senate.  The Republican label certainly does not spell “conservative” in that chamber.  ###

 

Grassroots America – We the People PAC

Endorses Cary Nix for County Commissioner Precinct 2

February 18, 2010

For immediate release

Contact: JoAnn Fleming, GAWTP Executive Director, (903) 894-7204

Grassroots America – We the People is pleased to announce its endorsement of local businessman Cary Nix for County Commissioner Precinct 2.

County Judge Joel Baker and the Commissioners Court have some tough budget decisions ahead.  With sales tax revenue continuing to decline and small business expansion frozen under the shadow of a heavy handed, big-spending federal government, the County will find itself in a very tight corner.  These challenges will call for hard, “roll up your shirt sleeves” work.  We believe Cary Nix is prepared to be that kind of commissioner.

Nix is a successful Whitehouse businessman and community servant.  Plain spoken, he exhibits the practical common sense that comes from years of meeting a payroll, paying taxes, and fighting to get a business off the ground to make it successful.  He understands the investment of time and money and the personal sacrifices of an entrepreneur.

Nix says the County can no longer afford to “kick the can down the road” where the sorry condition of county roads is concerned.  We agree, and with 60% of county roads being rated bad and poor, we support his strong opposition to diverting funds from county roads to other uses like state highway projects (Loop 49), toll roads (Loop 49), and bike or walking trails (Metropolitan Planning Organization master planning).

Incumbent Bill McGinnis is a long-time county employee who lost his public servant bearings shortly after being elected Commissioner.  Just a few months after taking office, McGinnis voted for a 30% pay raise for the Commissioners Court.  Taking a $6,000 raise before being in office a whole year was disrespectful to the county employees and to the taxpayers.  His decision to support putting a $125 million jail plan on a ballot after two plans around $83 million had just failed also showed poor judgment.  We are also concerned that Mr. McGinnis is eager to take credit for projects spearheaded and brought to success by county department heads – successes well documented in news stories.

We believe Cary Nix’s business experience, his “outside government” perspective, and solid conservative principles are badly needed in county government.  We believe Cary Nix will be a positive and effective county public servant.

 

Grassroots America – We the People PAC

Endorses Karen Phillips for County Clerk

February 18, 2010

For immediate release

Contact: JoAnn Fleming, GAWTP Executive Director, (903) 894-7204

GAWTP is pleased to announce its strong endorsement of Karen Phillips for County Clerk.

Karen Phillips brings eighteen years of clerical and administrative experience in the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Worker’s Compensation.  She clearly understands the need for cost effective operations and exhibits a solid understanding of how technology can benefit the County Clerk’s office and its citizen customers. Phillips demonstrates the ability to apply conservative principles to problem-solving scenarios.  She understands the responsibility of working with the Commissioners Court to balance the county budget and believes government should go through the same process of priority-setting and belt-tightening that small businesses and families do to live within their means.

Phillips demonstrates a good understanding of team-building.  She outlines a sound plan for a skills and knowledge assessment of the County Clerk’s staff as the basis for an in-house training program for cross-training, customer service, and computer skills.  She also describes an employee recognition system for customer service excellence and the need to develop a web-based survey system for public feedback on the County Clerk’s office.   Those are fresh, positive ideas with the potential to yield good results for the employees, the department’s customers, and the taxpayers.

Candidate Russell Buffington raises a conflict of interest issue because Mrs. Phillips’ husband is a county commissioner. Per state law, no single member of a commissioners court has any authority to unilaterally render a decision for any department or elected official. No single member has the power to award funds, deny funds, or provide any special service to any department or elected official.  No single member has the authority to set policy or be involved in personnel issues for any department or elected official.

In 2002, Russell Buffington led the charge to organize county employees into an affiliate of the United Steelworkers of America union (well documented in both the Tyler Morning Telegraph and the Dallas Morning News). Today, a portion of those dues collected by the County goes to that union.  In 2004, Mr. Buffington led pickets around the courthouse to protest budget cuts; however, in 2007 Mr. Buffington did not protest when a majority of the Commissioners Court voted itself a 30% pay raise in a three-year salary plan – raises far above those for employees.  Buffington’s vocal support of the $125 million jail plan on the heels of a failed jail bond election with a top price tag of $83 million also brings into question his ability to judge a matter with common sense and principled reasoning.

Mrs. Phillips has the values, principles, experience, and maturity the County needs.

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