22nd Judicial Court

The 22nd Judicial Court Seat covers Hays, Caldwell, and Comal counties. It is one of four district courts that covers Hays county, and one of three that is shared with Comal county. Currently, the Judges in the other two courts shared with Comal County are residents of Comal county.
The 22nd District Court deals with civil, family law, and criminal cases. The bulk of the docket is felony criminal cases.
The two candidates for this court are Bruce Boyer of Comal County and David Glickler of Hays County. Boyer owns a real estate title
company, and is a board certified
specialist in residential real estate law. For the past six years he served as Mayor of New Braunfels, and was a city prosecutor for 22 years before that. He has not been In a trial court in the past seven years. During the primary, Boyer received the majority of his votes from Comal County.

David Glickler, a resident of Hays County, is a prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Public Integrity office. He spends most of his time in district and appeals courts prosecuting public officials from around the state. Although Glickler is very successful at bringing public officials to justice, he would greatly prefer to serve in the San Marcos, Lockhart, and New Braunfels court houses rather than travel around the state.
During the primary, Glickler received majorities in Hays and Caldwell counties in a four-way race.
Glickler has a sound understanding of the laws and constitutions of this state and our nation. He has a deep working knowledge of judicial procedures from daily exposure. He has experience in criminal, civil, and family law practice, and is a board certified criminal law specialist. He holds to an originalist judicial philosophy.
Of people that I trust who are familiar with this race, all of them endorse Glickler.

Texas Supreme Court Place 4

The Second Race on the ballot is an interesting one. The Texas Supreme Court is a fairly important court, but not likely the most important one in Texas. Most of the action in the appeals process occurs at the Appeals Court level, and cases are split between civil and criminal at the final level, with the Supreme Court dealing with civil cases and the Court of Criminal Appeals dealing with criminal cases. As such, the Texas Supreme Court only deals with those few civil cases that were not adequately discharged through the very capable Courts of Appeals.

In the runoff is the incumbent, David Medina, and a challenger, John Devine. John Devine has no experience as an appeals court judge. That’s not an absolute requirement for this job, but it is a major consideration. Devine’s judicial experience consists of a two-year stint as a District Judge about 10 years ago. He resigned from his position to run for US Congress, and has run unsuccessfully for several offices since then. However, he espouses a strict constructionist judicial philosophy that would be a clear departure from the precedent based philosophy followed by his opponent.

David Medina has served on the Supreme Court for 8 years. He was initially appointed by Governor Perry to fill an unexpired term, and ran with only token opposition in 2006. By all accounts, he has been a fine jurist and has authored reasoned opinions in keeping with the State Constitution and constructed upon precendential law.

Since 2006 there have been a couple of ethics investigations and at least one indictment concerning a suspicious fire at his residence. The indictment was later dropped by the District Attorney, but there was an unusual public discussion by the grand jury members. A personal friend of mine was on that grand jury panel, and that friend would not vote for Medina for any office. Some of the other people I trust have endorsed Medina. A few others have endorsed Devine.

In terms of future races, neither candidate is likely to use this office as a stepping stone to other offices, nor would the loss of either create a vacancy.

I supported Devine in 2004 when he ran for Congress in the 10th District for an open seat. The Texas Republican Assembly has made no endorsement in this race.

Railroad Commissioner

The Texas Railroad Commission is a misnamed agency. The Commission has nothing to do with railroads, and everything to do with Oil, Gas, and surface mining. The Commission serves three functions:

  1. Regulate mining and extraction within Texas
  2. Apportion royalties for wells within Texas among the appropriate land owners with mineral rights
  3. Resolve disputes within the oil and gas industry, acting in the role of administrative judges

Three people, elected state-wide, serve on the Railroad Commission. Two are up for election this year. In one position, Barry Smitherman was appointed to fill an unexpired term by Governor Perry. He is being challenged by Greg Parker. I have talked with both of these candidates, find that they both understand the issues concerning regulation overreach by the Federal Government into oil and gas production very well, and I would be proud to see either on the Commission. Smitherman has the small advantage that he has had two years of experience on the Commission. When asked about judicial experience, Parker pointed to his service as a Justice of the Peace, and made a compelling argument about his competency for the task. Among people I trust, most endorse Smitherman.

The second position is an open seat. The runoff is between two established politicians. One is Warren Chisholm, a long time member of the Texas House, who is looking for a statewide office to cap off his career. He has long experience in writing Oil and Gas legislation, and would make a fine addition to the court. The other is Christie Craddick, daughter of former Texas Speaker Tom Craddick. Craddick is an accomplished oil and gas attorney and lobbyist. with many useful statewide contacts from coordinating her father’s campaigns.

For the long view, Craddick young and ambitious, and may want to use the Railroad Commission as a jumping off point to seek higher office. That strategy has not worked well for the last three members to leave the Railroad Commission – Victor Carrillo was defeated for re-election, and both Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones polled low numbers in their races for US House and State Senate respectively. Chisum is at an age where retirement is a likely option for him after one or two terms on the Railroad Commission.

Among people that I trust, most endorse Chisum.

Runoff Election

Aside

The Primary Runoff Election will be held on July 31st, with 5 days of early voting the week before. Our precinct will vote at Tobias Elementary School.  All registered voters who have not yet affiliated this year with a party other than the Republican Party are welcome to join Republican Primary voters in assisting us with this important election.

As your Hays County Republican Party Secretary, I am not issuing specific endorsements in this election.  But I did want to write a few blurbs about each race as a starting point for your understanding into for whom you might vote.

 

US Senate Race

The US Senate Race is a runoff for an open seat.  There were 9 people who filed this year, of which 3 received significant numbers of votes – Tom Leppert, former mayor of Dallas; Ted Cruz, Solicitor General under Attorney General Greg Abbot; and David Dewhurst, the current Lieutenant Governor .  The top two, Cruz and Dewhurst, are in contention for this race.

Both of these candidates have strong credentials.  David Dewhurst has presided over a very conservative state senate since Rick Perry became Governor, and has shepherded through significant and far-reaching pro-life and conservative legislation.  Texas is not allowed to run a deficit by State law, and Dewhurst has ensured that this has been accomplished without raising the Sales Tax.

Dewhurst is controversial because he backed the Margins Tax, which is organized as either a gross sales or gross payroll tax.  The State Constitution forbids the use of an income tax, and payroll taxes are very similar in effect to income taxes.  He is also controversial because of two bills that were killed during the 82nd legislature.  One would have stopped the Federal Government from “groping” people in airport security screening procedures.  Although Dewhurst passed this bill during the regular session, it missed some important deadlines and was brought back up during the first special session.  The re-introduced special session bill was subsequently killed in the Senate due mainly to the lobbying efforts of Dewhurst.

Dewhurst would serve honourably in the Senate, with good experience in pragmatic compromise towards incremental improvements towards a more conservative approach to government.  He raises some concern in that he may not understand the appropriate limits of the Federal government as specified in article 1 section 8 and the 9th and 10th amendments to the US Constitution.

Ted Cruz also has solid credentials.  As Solicitor General, he argued a number of important cases before the US Supreme court.  He also had to coordinate with Solicitors General from other states on cases that the states were working on together.

The cases that he argued at the US Supreme Court demonstrate a clear understanding of the limits of the Federal Government.  However, he has no experience in crafting legislation.  That has not stopped current senators like Jim Demint and RIck Santorum from endorsing him.  Cruz has significant support inside and outside of Texas, and is seen as a rising leader among the young, energetic, conservative crowd.

Cruz is controversial because, while in private practice, he defended a Chinese owned company in court.  He is also controversial because he has no experience as an elected official.

From a long-term view, many inside the “establishment” hoped that Cruz would run for Attorney General in 2010, assuming that certain dominoes fell.  In fact, Cruz began campaigning for that seat in mid 2009.  However, when Kay Bailey Hutchinson decided to not resign in 2010, that plan was set aside.  His subsequent entry into the US Senate race caught many insiders by surprise.  It is time for new leadership in the Texas House, and many were expecting Dewhurst to become US Senator, opening a position as Lieutenant Governor for some other leader such as Jerry Patterson or Todd Staples.  Greg Abbot is also widely expected to run for Governor in 2014, which would allow Cruz to run for Attorney General. Should Dewhurst be elected there would be a vacancy in the Lieutenant Governor slot.  As I understand it, that would be filled by the State Senate, and most observers expect Dan Patrick to be elected as the Lieutenant Governor to finish the unexpired term while Patterson and Staples campaign for the position in 2014.

This race has been very difficult for me to take sides on. Among people I trust endorsements are fairly even between the two candidates.  And the Texas Republican Assembly, of which I am a chapter president, has issued no endorsement on this race.

 

 

Amendment 8

The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.
This amendment provides a mostly redundant tax deferral for certain agricultural land that conforms with some vaguely defined water conservation goals.
While I’m usually in favor of lower taxes, this bill gives control of our water supply to environmental extremists and takes control away from land-owners. Please vote against this amendment.

Amendment 10

The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.

This amendment is just cleanup. The federal MOVE act caused Texas to move their filing dates earlier by about 3 weeks. Previously, a candidate from one of these offices could avoid the resign to run issue by filing on the last day of filing. Without this change, many counties will need to hold special elections to fill the vacancies caused by county officials trying to run for higher office. Please vote FOR this amendment.

Amendment 9

The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.

Ok, this is one of those fairness things. If you commit a felony, plead not guilty, they have a trial and you are convicted, then the board of pardons and paroles can recommend that the governor pardon you. And after a pardon, your record is clean.

On the other hand, if you plead guilty and are sentenced to deferred adjudication, and you complete the terms of the court successfully, then you aren’t actually convicted of a felony, but you have to report that you received deferred adjudication, and there is no way to receive a pardon to clear your record.
This amendment imperfectly tries to correct the disparity. It probably needs a bit more work, and some enabling legislation, but it is a good start. Please vote FOR this amendment.

Amendment 7

The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.

El Paso county wants to join the handful of other counties that has the authority to assess taxes on property owners so that the county can buy and hold “open space”. The comments on the Texas Legislative Council official analysis are bad enough:

Comments by Opponents. The proposed amendment would
provide an opportunity for further taxing authority in El Paso County, a property-poor county. In this current economic climate, government leaders should be focused on sustaining the local economy and generating revenue rather than on creating additional debt. While improving the regional quality of life is laudable, it is irresponsible at this time.
The proposed amendment has been characterized as a way for El Paso County residents to start a conversation regarding the creation of a regional parks district with authority to issue bonds payable from property taxes and the associated benefits, but there has been little study regarding the actual economic impact of such a district. Specific information should have been provided to city and county leaders regarding the financing, leadership, function, and authority of such a district before the amendment was proposed.

The fact is, that the objections above are really part of the best case scenario. As we have seen with the “open space” that has been procured in Travis County, this is merely a way for counties to inflate land prices with artificial scarcity, and to reward developers with sweetheart deals. Say no! to spreading the misery to other counties! Please vote AGAINST.