Republican deconstructionists don’t represent my party

Photo by Illustration by Todd Wiseman

I am a proud first-year Republican precinct chair, a seven-year elected school board trustee, 30-year Dallas County resident, 41-year Republican, past chairman of the Greater Dallas Veterans Parade and proud daughter of a U.S. Air Force veteran. I am also observant, intelligent and committed to public education. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience support every Republican candidate this year. Here’s why.

Over the past several years, I have watched dark money enter our state Legislature at a methodical pace through the Republican Party. This dark money is from eight West Texas Fracking billionaires and millionaires, who poured tons of money into state races to buy up our Texas Legislature. Hateful mailers were pumped into mostly Republican primary elections from PACs representing the same people, ironically called “Empower Texans.”

I’ve watched esteemed statesmen shockingly lose their state seats in low voter turnout primaries or be “censured” — whatever that means — for service to the state and working with others for the betterment of us all. The representatives who lost their seats were good people who listened to their constituents, visited their communities and promoted the conservative principle of local control.

I then saw my Republican Party prioritize bathroom bills and make public education a partisan issue by promoting school vouchers, education savings grants, and all other such nonsense. They said school choice was up to the parent. Newsflash: it always has been and will be. There is an abundance of school choice throughout public schools, but these extreme Republicans want to give each child $7,000 of taxpayer money without the same taxpayer accountability they demand from public schools. It’s an entitlement program, and, in my opinion, not very Republican.

I also knew that my Republican Party would not try to cap taxes that they do not have authority over and would never dream to meddle in local city and county property tax rates, but they did. They even called a special session to do all of the above when they didn’t pass anything in the 85th regular session.

I then saw my Republican Party pass budgets that instruct property appraisal districts statewide to increase appraised property values by at least 14 percent over the biennium. Doing that increases Robin Hood payments and decreases the state’s contribution to public education funding, forcing districts like Dallas ISD and Richardson ISD to now need to increase their local property tax rates. Did I mention that while the Legislature increased appraised property values, they also demanded that school districts not lower their maintenance and operations school tax rates or risk getting even less state support?

Last March, I decided to try to influence my Republican Party’s morphing platform. I ran for Republican precinct chair. It was a contested race, and I won. I went to my first Republican State Convention this summer. Two things were especially surprising: First, a state representative, Briscoe Cain, and state senator, Bob Hall, tried to add vouchers to the Republican Priorities Committee’s final recommended five priorities. That wasn’t very grassroots, and, thankfully, they failed after two attempts. But that won’t stop them in the 86th legislative session from prioritizing vouchers anyway. Empower Texans wants vouchers, and they pull the strings of their puppets in Austin.

Second, at the end of the convention, when all the candidates were up on stage being celebrated, there was one more person with them. It was the president of Empower Texans, Michael Q Sullivan, the only non-elected official or non-candidate in the group.

Because of these reasons, looking statewide, I cannot in good conscious support the re-election of Republicans Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, my state representative, Matt Rinaldi, or my state senator, Don Huffines. All of these men are endorsed, funded and controlled by Empower Texans. They do not represent my precinct, my community of great neighborhood public schools, or my fellow local taxpayers. They represent primary voter apathy and West Texas billionaires.

This past Monday evening, the Dallas County Republican Party “condemned” me, a lifelong Republican and an elected precinct chair, for not blindly supporting the entire GOP ticket. I am a Texan who cares about my family, our community and Texas kids before politics. I agree with Ronald Reagan, who once said, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and ally — not a 20 percent traitor.” But as someone else in the Dallas County GOP told me early this year, “It’s just politics.”

I hope you will do your research and look at your own state legislators. If you are like me, question how we have allowed ourselves to elect and re-elect people who don’t support us, our local schools and our community. I encourage you to consider carefully your vote. Also, take a look at who is paying for the mailers for these candidates, look at who is funding their campaigns, and look closely at the content. 

At this point, partisanship is less important than doing what’s right for Texas. Vote for candidates who support public schools, local control and encourage freedom and liberty for all. Vote against those who are controlled by a small group of West Texas zealots, whom I believe are deconstructionists, not Republicans. Most importantly, vote for what’s right for our public schools and our children. I know I will.

Tracy Fisher

Board member, Coppell ISD