Tomorrow it’s primary day in Texas, and I’ve got a little story for all my Hays County pals (and anyone else registered to vote in the two districts mentioned in the title of this post). It is exceptionally relevant to you if you’re going to be voting in the Republican Primary. I 100% guarantee no partisan bickering on my part here.
Almost a year ago, I went to a community meeting in Wimberley. The subject of that meeting (see this link or this one for more detail) was a bill being fast-tracked through the Texas legislature by the respective house and senate representatives for the area, Jason Isaac and Donna Campbell, to establish a municipal utility district (MUD) on >4000 acres along the Blanco River containing a long-time icon of the area, the Little Arkansas Springs. Inevitably, this bill passed, much to the chagrin of everyone who will actually be affected by it.
This bill was UNANIMOUSLY opposed by the Wimberley City Council.
Hays County Commissioner Will Conley (R) opposed the bill.
Hays County Judge Bert Cobb (R) opposed the bill.
Over 400 people in a town of only ~2600 attended the meeting to discuss the bill with the representatives. Some of the injustices they discussed included (if you’re short on time, skip to the last one):
- If densely developed, this MUD could bring 16,000 people to Wimberley. This is a bit devastating to a population who sees the sea of rooftops over in Kyle as a menacing army of sprawl, especially when the economic drivers of Wimberley are things like rural swimming holes and shopping at the town square and “market days.” Suburbia just might put a damper on that vibe. No one goes for a day trip to Kyle, after all.
- While Mr. Lamantia (the landowner, who has had shady dealings in Texas politics before and definitely put down some money to get this bill written in his favor) could have developed this land without a MUD, getting one from the state makes it substantially easier and more beneficial for him to do so; in other words, encouraging development. Not only does it provide a significant tax break, it could also provide limited rights of eminent domain. Yes… eminent domain, which is not a “private property right” as the representatives claimed they were defending.
- Instead of seeking community input and working with the county officials on a development plan (something typically done for tracts of land this size), Mr. LaMantia disregarded those who would be affected by this decision and went straight to the district representatives. And by “Mr. LaMantia,” I mean his money***.
- The land sits atop the Trinity Aquifer. Wells and springs have gone dry a number of times in recent years between droughts and an increasing population tapping into the already thinly stretched resource.
- Perhaps most insulting was that this bill would benefit ONE man who does not even live in the area. Although Mr. LaMantia bought the property in question a couple of years ago, he lives in McAllen–Jason Isaac and Donna Campbell are NOT EVEN HIS REPRESENTATIVES. These supposed public servants represented ONLY the interests of a man who could not even vote for them and ignored hundreds of the people who had elected them in the first place.
What I’m getting at here is pretty simple, and has nothing to do with your political party, merely integrity: Representatives are elected to fight for the interests of their districts. Instead, Jason Isaac and Donna Campbell represented the interests of a beer distributor from the Rio Grande Valley over their actual constituents. Neither of them deserve the privilege of serving the public anymore. They both probably calculated that they don’t need the votes of the citizens of tiny Wimberley to get reelected, but this is where you come in. Stand up for your Hill Country neighbors who were ignored last April, and don’t reelect these farcical representatives.
In the primaries, Jason Isaac (House District 45) is running unopposed, but Donna Campbell (Senate District 25) has some competition, and I’m not the only one talking about it.
***If you check votesmart.org, you can clearly see last names LaMantia and Texas Beer distributors on the list of contributors for Jason Isaac. I was confused about why I did not see the same for Donna Campbell, until I realized she has a separate contributor (did you check out how this works on the Colbert Report, people??) called “Donna Campbell for Congress Campaign” that donated over $30k. Donations given to that entity don’t appear to be made public.