In keeping with our effort to provide Texans with the information they need to be informed voters, Texas Scorecard distributed a questionnaire to those running for the lead the Republican Party of Texas as chairman: incumbent James Dickey and challenger Cindy Asche.
We also decided for the first time ever to make a number of the same questions available to those running for the State Republican Executive Committee as well. While we won’t be issuing an endorsement in any of these races, we hope that the responses to these questions will help you decide which man and which woman will best represent your interest on the SREC.
Here are the answers from the Senate District 20 candidates who responded without edits:
Why should Republicans choose you for the SREC?
Janie Melendez: Almost every republican that runs for office claims to be a grassroots conservative. Unfortunately, once elected they forget their conservative values and work against the Republican Party of Texas platform and the will of the majority of the people. I am a grassroots conservative. I am fiscally conservative – I believe in small government and low taxes. Locally, I have fought against the creation of a hospital district that would increase property taxes to an area were many of its citizens are economically disadvantaged and struggle to pay their property taxes. Across the state of Texas, homeowners and business face the same struggle. I will continue fighting until home and business owners see a relief in property taxes. I am a social conservative – I have helped organize pro-life events in the McAllen area. I believe that tax payer’s money should not be used to fund Planned Parenthood or any other entity that provides abortions.
As an SREC member, I attended every quarterly meeting and voted in support of the RPT platform. During my term, I have attended meetings in all the counties in Senate District 20. I travelled to Austin during the Special Session and updated the proceedings via social media. I managed a campaign for a Senator based on conservative principles that garnered 30% of the vote in South Texas. I have blocked walk and phone bank for conservative candidates and elected officials in Nueces and Hidalgo County. During my term as SREC, I have continuously worked and supported the Republican Party platform.
Texas Republicans control every statewide office and the Texas Legislature by impressive margins. What measures must pass this upcoming session for it to be declared a success?
Janie Melendez: One would expect that in a state where Republicans control every statewide office and hold the majority in the legislature, it would be easy to pass legislation that is an integral part of the republican platform. Unfortunately, that has not been the case in Texas and essential items that correspond to planks from the RPT platform have been left in the backburner. In my humble opinion, property tax reform, school finance reform, school choice, constitutional carry, and caps on state and local spending should be among the first measures to be tackled by the Texas Legislature when it reconvenes in 2019.
The need for school finance reform is evident when you look at La Joya ISD, a school district in south Texas. La Joya ISD opened the first school-owned waterpark earlier this year. They are also the only school district in the state of Texas to own their own golf course. They have a natatorium, planetarium, tennis courts and a learning center. La Joya ISD receives 81% of its funding from the state of Texas.
Current party rules allow for the SREC to censure a Republican officeholder that violates the party’s core principles. Do you think we should have this rule? Why or why not?
Janie Melendez: Yes, the Republican Party of Texas should have a rule to allow SREC members to censure Republican officeholders that do not support the RPT platform. Joe Straus’ loyalty to Democrat representatives in the Rio Grande Valley made it hard to grow the Republican Party in South Texas. I voted yes to censure Joe Strauss and Bryon Cook. Unfortunately, despite having the support of a majority of the SREC, the Cook resolution failed to reach the two-thirds necessary and was defeated
Last year, efforts to censure House Speaker Joe Straus were successful, but efforts to censure State Rep. Byron Cook and other lawmakers were not. What are some examples of actions you believe violate the party’s core principles?
Janie Melendez: House Speaker Joe Straus and Bryon Cook repeatedly blocked conservative reform found in the Texas Republican Party platform. Both Straus and Cook opposed a core party principle by obstructing legislation designed to protect the right to life. Straus killed efforts to protect life, gun rights, and limit government from coming to the floor of the Texas House. In the 2017 Special Session, Straus disregarded Texas House Rules and adjourned the House early. He repeatedly refused to recognize proper motions and amendment and obstructed legislation designed to promote school choice.
Should you be elected, what tangible metrics should Republicans use to determine if you have been successful?
Janie Melendez: SREC members should abide by the Republican Party of Texas platform and be held accountable for their voting record. Voting by SREC members can be tracked by electronic voting or voice votes recorded by video recordings.