There are compelling reasons why Texans need to be vigilant in holding their local officials accountable.
Thanks to Congresswoman Kay Granger and F-rated Charlie Geren (Fort Worth), the Tarrant Regional Water District can now legally bully private landowners using eminent domain for dubious economic development schemes….all through a partnership with the notoriously irresponsible federal government.
TRWD board trustees are also entangled in two lawsuits. The first alleges blatant TOMA violations of statutory transparency requirements. The second is in opposition to election-shell game shenanigans aimed at illegally extending board terms, in direct conflict with explicit, state constitutional limits.
If the President behaved similarly, violent mobs would descend on Washington, D.C.
To add insult to injury, the TRWD’s nebulous projects have resulted in both growing debt and skyrocketing water rates for surrounding communities.
Due to bond proposals issued by cities and school districts with single digit voter turnout, Texas now has the second-highest local debt, per capita, in the nation. Population growth cannot entirely explain this phenomenon. Since 1992, local debt has grown 130% faster than population and inflation, fueling a largely unreported government feeding frenzy.
Although enrollment at Fort Worth ISD has grown less than four percent over the last decade, it’s borrowed nearly $1 billion of additional debt since 2006 to “finance classroom growth”.
Many “tax and spend” officials take advantage of service on local government boards to build valuable name-ID and political clout useful for future political campaigns. The most recent examples are former Fort Worth City councilwoman, Democrat Sen. Wendy Davis (Fort Worth), and former Coppell ISD Trustee, Republican Rep. Bennett Ratliff (NW Dallas). Both received F-ratings on our 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index.
A non-partisan study conducted by Mark Jones at Rice University confirmed our findings.
There are encouraing examples, however, like TFR endorsees, former Frisco Councilman, Rep. Pat Fallon (Denton), and HD112 hopeful and current Sachse Councilman, Jared Patterson, both with stellar reputations of service in at the municipal level.
Low turnout in local races provides taxpayers with an opportunity to make a measurable difference. Due to notably smaller district populations, local elections are easier for citizen candidates to win when compared to state and federal races. Consequently, local incumbents are far more vulnerable to challengers.
Unfortunately, most local incumbents win re-election unopposed!
If Texans have a desire to send better representation to Austin and D.C., they must be more vigilant in local elections. We cannot expect a change in policy making if we continue to elect the same policy makers.
Texans need to do more than vote. They need to make donations, poll watch, phone bank, block walk, and even run as candidates themselves.
In an effort to provide greater clarify to taxpayers, TFR has announced it will offer endorsements to candidates running at the local level in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties.