McKinney resident Mike Giles hasn’t always been a Texan, or a grassroots activist, but for more than a decade he’s been quietly involved in leading conservatives in Collin County to engage in politics—especially at the local level.

Mike grew up in Florida but came to Texas in the early 1980s and has lived in McKinney for 20 years.

After attending the Air Force Academy, Mike flew for the Air Force in Vietnam, then worked in telecommunications for 20 years. More recently, he’s been into real estate investing—and local political action.

He first got active in politics as part of the 2009 tea party movement, which focused mainly on national issues and principles of limited government, free markets, and fiscal and personal responsibility.

Mike joined McKinney Tea Party and became part of the group’s leadership team. He’s been with the organization—now called Collin County Patriots—ever since.

He serves as treasurer for the group and various political action committees, puts together informative meetings for his McKinney neighbors, and engages them on local issues.

“Collin is a very good red county,” Mike said. “We need to get it down to the cities and ISDs.”

“Our goal is to get some fiscal control and make it a transparent, citizen-led government,” he added.

For about six years, Mike led Grassroots McKinney, a PAC formed specifically to vet and endorse candidates for local and state elections. He said a lot of citizens participated in the process over the years.

Now, vetting county and state-level candidates falls to the new Collin County Patriots PAC. But he says local elections matter most.

“We can’t swing a state election, but we can swing a local election, and that’s our plan,” he said.

Last year, Mike helped form McKinney First PAC to focus on recruiting conservative candidates and slates of candidates for local city and school district positions, as well as supporting them through endorsements and campaigning.

He said working with candidates for local offices—city councils and school boards—impacts everyone financially because those officials impose property taxes.

“If we put good conservative people there, they will exercise fiscal restraint,” he said.

This year, Mike also helped organize a series of six local candidate forums in cities across Collin County ahead of the May 2021 local elections.

He said about 100 local candidates and hundreds of local voters participated in the forums.

“We focus on local because that’s the one that’s going to impact everyone immediately,” he said. “Your vote makes an immediate difference.”

He said he supports making local races openly partisan.

“Why pretend?” he said. “We might as well do it, because it is a reality.”

Mike said he would like to see his candidates win elections, but he’s also trying to motivate people to get out and vote in local races.

“Turnout in local elections is absolutely pathetic,” he said. “Part of our block-walking is just to remind people there are elections going on and encourage them to vote.”

Mike’s advice to Texans who want to make a difference in their communities?

“You need to get active! You better get busy and get into these things,” he said. “There are millions of evangelicals who don’t even vote. They may come to regret it.”

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.