<strong>Early Voting Starts, My Thoughts, and Where to Vote</strong>
Early voting begins Monday and there are a number of races on the ballot for all levels of government—local, state, and federal. As we always do right before the polls open, we are sending out information to help you know where you can vote and the dates for doing so.
And because I am often asked about who I will cast my vote for, I will share my thoughts on this as well. In all partisan races the choice is clear for me – I will be supporting Republican candidates (especially that James Frank candidate as I do have opponents this time) because I believe conservative principles and vision will provide the best direction for our state in a time of growing federal government and cultural disintegration.
There are however some races that are wholly non-partisan in nature, like that of your local school board. Though I historically do not make endorsements on local races, there are two exceptions on this ballot and they both happen to be for the same name: Jim Johnson. One of the Jims is running for the WFISD School Board District 5 slot. I have known Jim a long time and believe he’d bring his financial acumen and fresh perspective to a school board that needs both.
Additionally, as many of you are aware, the other Jim Johnson that I have endorsed is the Republican candidate to be the next Wichita County Judge. Having worked alongside him for nearly a decade and knowing his talents, character and temperament, I believe with all of my heart that he is the right person for that important job.
Though federal and statewide elections often get the most media attention and money, it is frequently the local races that have the most impact on our day-to-day lives. Therefore, I strongly urge everyone to take the time to fill out their ballot all the way to the bottom to make sure your voice is heard on local races.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide for yourself what candidates will best serve us at all levels and cast your vote for them. We are extremely blessed to be able to choose our representatives in government; let’s take advantage of that blessing.
Constitutional Amendment Election Starts Today and Property Taxes April 25, 2022
I know it felt like we just had an election, but we have another one starting today when voters will have the opportunity to vote on two potential amendments to our state constitution. Early voting runs from April 25th through May 3rd and election day itself is on May 7th.
Both of the amendments up for consideration for this election deal with reducing property taxes. The ballot language may seem confusing so here is my take on the amendments–I hope you will consider voting “FOR” these propositions as you cast your ballot!
In plain English, Proposition 1 would lower the cap on taxable value (“freeze value”) for seniors and those with disabilities. If it passes, it will lower school district tax bills for seniors and those with disabilities. Proposition 2 raises the homestead exemption for homeowners from $25K to $40K so that they pay taxes on a smaller amount of their value.
As a reminder, for amendment proposals to make it onto the ballot, they must first be approved in the form of a Joint Resolution by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the Texas Legislature. It is difficult to get the necessary votes to get an amendment on the ballot. As such, most amendments are fairly non-controversial and easily approved by voters.
Both of the proposed constitutional amendments in this election were passed during the special sessions this past fall.
Additionally, I recently posted a fairly lengthy explainer on Facebook about why the huge increases in property appraisals do not mean commensurate huge increases in your property tax bills next year. We’ve included that post in the body of the newsletter below but the summary is this:
- The appraised value is just the first step in a 5-6 step process to eventually determine your total tax bill.
- Unless local taxing entities (county, city, school district) ask for voter approval, they WILL HAVE TO REDUCE TAX RATES substantially specifically because the values have gone up so much.
Please reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns on these or other topics.
Early Voting Starts Monday, My Thoughts, and Where to Vote February 13, 2022
In most of our state the upcoming primary election is much more important than the more talked about general election in November. That is because in the large majority of races across Texas, we know with near certainty which party’s candidate will win regardless of who wins the primary. This is likely true even of the statewide races. The bottom line is that these races are important, since the winner of the dominating party’s primary in any given region will win the general election.
For essentially all of the counties in this district, that means the Republican Primary. For that reason, I will share my thoughts and some picks on the statewide races on the Republican side.
Let me say that my opinion is no more important than yours. I have one vote and you have one vote. The chart on the next page shows you who I will be voting for, with the notable exception of the Attorney General. I am still mulling that decision over, as all four candidates have unique strengths as well as some challenges. I may send an update email if I decide before I enter the voting booth.
I will be voting for both incumbents for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Greg Abbott will win handily, and I believe is in the best position to soundly beat Beto in November. I am still a big fan of Dan Patrick on most policy issues.
Glenn Hegar does a fantastic job as Comptroller of the State and has my vote and unqualified support.
The Office of Agriculture needs a change and James White is the person for the job.
The last race I will comment on is only for my constituents in Wichita County. I strongly believe Jim Johnson is the clear choice in the race for Wichita County Judge. (Though the only thing that really matters is your opinion.)
I hope this helps. If you agree with my thoughts, great. If not, that is the beauty of a free country. You can vote for whomever you want.
Upcoming Election, Role of the County Judge, and The Best Candidate February 8, 2022
As many of you are aware, next Monday begins a very important election where the residents of Wichita County will be casting primary votes for a new county judge. The purpose of this newsletter is to explain what the role of county judge actually is and to share my thoughts about who you should consider supporting with your vote. I assure you that I don’t think my opinion is any more important than anyone else’s, but given my familiarity with both the role of county judge and one of the candidates, I thought at least some of you might be interested.
For the record, I will be voting for Jim Johnson and if you have time to finish this letter I think you will see why.
What does the County Judge Actually Do?
The role of the county judge is an incredibly important one in Texas government and yet many people really don’t understand what a county judge does. I have outlined in detail in the newsletter what the county judge actually does because the primary election begins Monday, Feb 14th (Election day is Mar 1). Given that the county is currently close to 75% Republican, the winner of the primary is almost certain to win the general election in November and become Wichita County Judge in January 2023.
Though the article below gives much detail on the role of the county judge, the Cliff’s notes version is that the judge is the:
- Presiding officer of the commissioners’ court, which is made up of 5 people with the other 4 being separately elected commissioners.
- Chief Budget Officer of the County – Wichita County has nearly a $60 million budget.
- Emergency Management Officer for Wichita County – A role that we have seen exercised extensively during the COVID pandemic.
- Election Oversight Officer – The county judge plays a central role in the administration and oversight of elections.
- Constituent Services Provider – Staying connected with and serving constituents in the county is a huge part of the job of an effective county judge.
- Judge – Many county judges do not actually perform judicial functions. In larger counties their administrative role takes precedence over any judicial functions. He or she can perform certain civil, probate, misdemeanor, juvenile, criminal and mental health cases.
Who is Jim Johnson?
Jim is a lifetime Wichita Falls resident. He and his wife, Sarah (also from WF) have been married for 14 years and have one son, Jacob. Jim was a National Merit Scholarship winner who graduated from Rider High School. Though he did cross the Red River to graduate from OU, he has spent essentially all of his adult life in this area (with the notable exceptions of 5-month Austin stints for the past four sessions). He has spent the past 8-years as my Chief of Staff and has done a truly fantastic job. He also served in Congressman Thornberry’s Wichita Falls office handling constituent issues for 5 years. His knowledge of the inner workings of government are unmatched, however, his perspective and focus have always remained with the constituent (not the government). He is genuinely conservative in his personal life, his beliefs and in his political convictions.
There are few men on the planet that I respect more than Jim Johnson. I have known him for many years, and have worked with him very closely over the past eight years as he has served as the Chief of Staff for my state representative office. In that role, he has been instrumental in working with the 6 county judges that I represent, working constituent issues, working with state agencies, and he has become intimately familiar with the state budget. He has also handled all interviewing, hiring and managing the rest of my legislative staff. He has developed strong working relationships with our other elected officials at the state and local levels. In fact, his knowledge and work ethic have earned him the endorsements of the Wichita Falls Association of Realtors, the Wichita Falls Police Officers Association, Congressman Ronny Jackson, State Senators Springer and Perry along with Mayor Santellana.
Why vote for Jim?
Let me make it abundantly clear that I do not think my opinion is any more important or valid that anyone else’s. I do; however, want to share my thoughts on this very important race with anyone who is interested (and I doubt you would have made it this far if you weren’t – LOL).
I am supporting Jim Johnson for County Judge because after carefully reviewing the job description for county judge (See comments above and article below) and knowing Jim’s talents, character and temperament, I believe with all of my heart that he is the right person for the job. A well-run county is important for the quality of life citizens and county employees alike.
Finally, who we elect to represent us is important at all levels. I really appreciate you taking the time to consider my thoughts and encourage you to vote regardless of whether or not you agree with them when early voting starts on Monday Feb 14th (Election day is Mar 1).
Town Halls, MSU Turns 100, and the Grid February 4, 2022
Over the past two weeks, there have been a number of events that I have participated in. On the political front, I spent two days last week with our state senators, Charles Perry and Drew Springer, participating in town halls and meeting with local leaders. While I currently share three counties each with these senators, Wichita County will essentially be split down the middle when redistricting is finalized in January 2023. The senators were in town to meet and field concerns and try to make this transition go as smooth as possible. I truly think that it could be very beneficial for the area to have two senators representing it for the coming decade.
I was also able to participate in MSU’s 100 year anniversary celebration. It is amazing to remember the kind of impact that MSU has had on this area over the years. I am truly excited about the relationship with the Texas Tech System and what that will mean for the University and the City going forward.
We also had the first major winter storm since last year’s winter storm Uri and while this wasn’t nearly as severe as Uri, the grid appeared to handle the extra load very well and the communication and coordination were much better than last year (as should be expected).
Finally, primary elections (for those races where more than one person filed in either the Republican or Democratic Primary) begin February 14th and finish March 1st. I will be sending out several e-mails over the coming week to discuss these important races at both the state level and the local level.
As always, please reach out to me or my staff if there is ever anything we can do for you.
Eisenhower’s Farewell, Not My Farewell, and Farewell to 2021 December 21, 2021
It’s hard to believe that it is already political campaigning season! Last month, I officially filed to run again as the representative for a much larger House District 69. Now that the filing window is past, I am pleased to announce that I will not have a Republican primary opponent in March. I do, however, have a Democrat challenger for the first time in November. While this will be my first contested race, I truly look forward to discussing the very different visions for our area, the state and the country that I have compared to today’s Democratic Party.
On the policy front, there’s been some movement regarding vaccine mandates at both the state and federal level that I address further down in the body of the newsletter. If you or someone you know has been affected by the various mandates, I encourage you to read it to see what options might be available for you.
During the interim, I try to catch up on reading and wanted to share a couple of pieces that I think speak well to current issues. The first is President Eisenhower’s farewell address. His words, while specifically addressing the dangers of the military-industrial complex, are prescient when looking at the almost complete government control of funding of medical research.
I also read a great article last month about restoring the proper constitutional balance of power between the states and Washington, D.C. last month (LINK). I agreed with these sentiments when President Trump was in office and I agree with them now that President Biden holds power. I’d encourage you to take a look at it and would love to hear your thoughts as well. Just drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Alisha and I would like to wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! While this can be a hectic and stressful time of year, we hope that you are able to spend it and enjoy it with family and friends. We’ll see you in 2022!