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Texas House, District 107

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    Carol Donovan (D) Attorney-Mediator

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    Kenneth Sheets (R) Attorney

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Occupation/main source of income:

Education (include all degrees):

Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:

Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:

Previous public offices sought or held:

How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

Who are your top three contributors?

Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings? If so, please explain:

Have you ever been involved in any civil lawsuits or declared personal or professional bankruptcy? If so, please explain:

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

What political leader do you most admire and why?

Why are you running for this office?

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

What are the state's greatest challenges that government can address?

The current two-year budget restored billions of dollars from previous cuts. Are there places where you advocate more spending and, if so, how would you pay for it? Are there areas where you would spend less?

The state’s business climate is considered a jobs magnet. How would you improve on today’s business conditions, regulation or promotion?

Please assess the safety net for Texas' poor and working poor. What changes, if any, would you make?

The 2013 Legislature broke with the recent past and boosted spending on mental health care. What other reforms should lawmakers pursue to address mental health in Texas?

What would you advocate to prevent another disaster like what happened in West?

Texas' "Closing the Gaps in Higher Education" master plan is due for a 2015 update. Are there new directions or initiatives you advocate for the state's colleges and universities?

How will you judge whether the state’s new accountability system is working for public education?

The Legislature may have to contend with another court order to overhaul the system of financing public schools. What is your idea of a better way to support public education in Texas?

If voters approve an extra $1.2 billion a year in highway spending in November, that’s only a fraction of what TxDOT says is needed. How would you bridge that gap to meet the needs of the growing population: taxes, fees, tolls, borrowing, some combination, or none of the above? Please be specific.

An ABA-sponsored, bipartisan review of Texas’ death penalty recommended numerous reforms. What weaknesses or needed improvements would you cite in the administration of the death penalty?

Do you favor open carry for handgun owners in Texas?

Gov. Rick Perry has advocated "decriminalization" of marijuana possession. What changes would you support in prosecution of drug laws in Texas?

Would you vote to place a medical marijuana amendment before Texas voters?

What changes, if any, would you make in Texas’ open records and open meetings laws?

Should the Legislature pass laws that supersede local control over oil and gas drilling?

What, if anything, should the state do to reform laws that govern payday lending?

City/Town Dallas/TX
Age 63
Campaign Phone Number (214) 823-1400
Fax Number 214-828-1448
Email Address
I have lived in district 107 for 45 years.
I am an attorney-mediator.
B.S., Education University of Texas at Austin; J.D.,Texas Tech School of Law
I’m active in the following groups: First United Methodist Church, Lake Highlands/White Rock Democrats, Leadership Dallas, League of Women Voters of Dallas, Oak Cliff Lions Club, Peacemakers, Inc., Texas State Bar Association, Toastmasters International, University of North Texas Castleberry Peace Institute, Women's Council of Dallas County, Women's Issues Network
Founding Director, Castleberry Peace Institute, 2009, Chairwoman, International Women’s Peace Conference, 2007, Legislative Reporter, Women's Issues Network, 2007-13, Co-Chair of Dallas Host Committee, Center for Citizen Initiatives (hosted Russian delegations), 2002-03, Founder, Susan B. Anthony Award Luncheon, hosted by the League of Women Voters - Dallas, 1996, Founder, Annual Women’s Retreat of First United Methodist Church of Dallas, 1995, Founder, Sue Ann Ray Culver Presidential Scholarship (presented annually to a woman athlete) at the University of Texas at Austin, 1991, Pro bono legal counsel for the Texas League of Women Voters Texas Gubernatorial Debate, 1990, League of Women Voters of Dallas: Speakers’ Bureau (1983-85); Board (1985-87); Parliamentarian (2003-05; 2011-12); Nominating Committee Chairwoman (2011-12) Founder, “The Supreme Tort” Program at Texas Tech School of Law, 1980 Virginia Macdonald Leadership Award, presented by the League of Women Voters of Dallas, 2013, Leadership Dallas, hosted by Dallas Regional Chamber, 2012, “Inspiring Women of the Southwest" Award, presented by the Southwest Jewish Congress, 2012, "Peacemaker of the Year", Dallas Peace Center, 2009, Leadership America (a national women’s leadership program), 2009, Maura (“Women Helping Women”) Award, 2007, District Service Award, Boy Scouts of America, 2004, Leadership Texas (a statewide women’s leadership program) 2002, First Place, Toastmasters International Area Humorous Speech Competition, 2000
Precinct Chair
Katherine Lyle, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, and Annie’s List
I have never been arrested. Excluding an occasional traffic ticket, I have never been involved in a criminal proceeding.
In 2007, I chaired the International Women’s Peace Conference. We brought more than 1,400 delegates (including 3 Nobel peace laureates) to Dallas from 45 countries. We drafted guidelines on how to bring stability to local governments that goes beyond, “the absence of war.” I led a group 20 coordinators and we recruited more 1,000 local volunteers.
Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas. I admire Governor Richards for her tenacity and her insistence on practical solutions. I admire her personally for her passion to do the right thing and for her sense of humor. She inspired others through her leadership and served as a role model to many.
I decided to run when my own representative and the Republican majority voted to cut $5.4 billion from the education budget. For me that was the last straw, after a series of misplaced priorities on the part of the Legislature. I’m a proud daughter of Texas, and I know we can do better in Austin.
The voters of District 107 have given my opponent the opportunity of two terms to represent them. However, during the last three years, he has accepted over $70,000 from the insurance industry and has sponsored legislation in their interests which would be detrimental to homeowners in our district.

As a member of the Texas Homeland Security Committee, my opponent has failed to require corporations to take the necessary safety precautions to protect Texans from disasters such as the explosion that occurred in West, TX.

Additionally my opponent has forced his own personal opinions upon the district residents that he knew to be in conflict with the majority views of the district residents. As a state representative, I would represent views of the district residents rather than enforcing my personal views.
Public education, women’s access to health care and infrastructure are some of our greatest challenges.
By the time the legislature partially restored the massive cuts to public education, the number of schoolchildren had increased significantly. Texas is woefully behind the nation in education funding in general and especially teacher salaries. Money from the rainy day fund must be used in part to catch up. The Legislature can save 18 million dollars per month by refusing to fund the governor’s ineffective use of Texas National Guard troops at the border. Their presence does not solve the problem and even local law enforcement agencies have questioned the Governor’s actions.
Texas is doing well with the recruitment of businesses into the state. Local governments must take care to not give up too much of their property tax income when recruiting businesses that wish to come to Texas anyway. Texas can best impress businesses with an educated workforce and good public schools for future employees of the businesses we are attempting to recruit.
Our safety net for the poor in Texas has some big problems we must fix to keep the whole net from unraveling. First we must make sure that those in need are aware of what services we have available now. But then we must look at such things as mental health care for the mentally ill, rather than jails, quality education for all of our children, allowing for an escape from poverty, and providing primary care options so that those in need can turn to someplace other than emergency rooms for treatment.
Texas is doing well with the recruitment of businesses into the state. Local governments must take care to not give up too much of their property tax income when recruiting businesses that wish to come to Texas anyway. Texas can best impress businesses with an educated workforce and good public schools for future employees of the businesses we are attempting to recruit.
The explosion in West, Texas was such a tragedy that it is amazing that the Legislature has not already acted to prevent another disaster. Unfortunately, my opponent and the other members of the Texas Home Security Committee have resisted any attempts to penalize companies that refuse to comply with safety rules, and they have likewise refused to give the state fire marshal (or local fire marshal) the authority to inspect the plants and warehouses where dangerous chemicals are stored. Though, as a general rule, the needs of the public and the needs of businesses must be carefully balanced, the explosive products prevent such a grave danger to Texans that the safety of Texans must take priority. The following actions must be taken: The state fire marshal should have inspection authority over ammonium nitrate facilities and fertilizer plants, the law banning most Texas counties from adopting a fire code should be repealed, the “Tier II” reports should remain public under the Texas Public Information Act and not made secret by the whim of the attorney general, any facility handling ammonium nitrate should be required to follow the national best practices on storage and handling, and penalties must be imposed for any entity that ignores the safety precautions which protect the people of Texas.
The "Closing the Gaps in Higher Education" master plan was developed in 2000 by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in order to make higher education more accessible to all Texans. The plan measures student "participation" by the number of students enrolled each year in higher education institutions. "Success" is measured by the number of degrees and certificates awarded to students each year. These measurements are very limited. Nevertheless, the annual progress reports issued by the Coordinating Board show several trends, both good and bad, that provide insight into the state of higher education in Texas and serve as evidence where new directions or initiatives are needed. Based on the above reports, I would promote initiatives to encourage: 1) students to earn teaching certificates, particularly in the STEM area; 2) more women to pursue STEM degrees; 3) universities and school districts to centralize information on available scholarships; 4) more programs to provide mentorships for young men; and 5) the Legislature to work with educational institutions to find ways to make higher education financially feasible for all Texans.
The new system should be judged by its actual results, with the input of educators. I welcome an approach that uses more factors than a single test to measure student progress. However, no matter what system of measurement is used, we must avoid penalizing teachers in schools in low income neighborhoods which are likely to score lower than schools in higher income areas.
The severe cuts to the Texas education budget, which were supported by my opponent, have caused Texas to slip to 49th in the nation in education. These funds were never fully restored and, as the enrollment of Texas schools continued to increase, the school budgets fell further behind. To rebuild the Texas public education system, the Legislature must restore the rest of the funds cut and must establish a reasonable statewide minimum-per-student funding level. School districts should be funded equally on a per student basis. Some school districts will need less assistance from the State than others because property in some areas yield higher property taxes. The recent property tax cap, which has been held unconstitutional, should be removed, and local governments should be allowed to appraise property (upon which property taxes are based) in a uniform and equitable manner. Additionally, school districts should be encouraged to establish foundations to support their local schools through private donations and grants. Though assistance from the “rainy day fund” may be necessary at the beginning, such an expenditure is certainly warranted since our public education system is in a state of an emergency.
Texas debt grew 281 percent between 2001-2010, and by 2020 the payments on all of the transportation debt will be more than the expected cost to actually build transportation projects. State leaders have truly stretched our debt as far as it can possibly go. If elected I will work with my colleagues to find a responsible, reliable solution that doesn't cost us as much in the long term. The November proposition is an important first step in that process.
I generally support the bipartisan group’s proposals.
I oppose drug legalization. While I respect Governor Perry for taking a politically difficult stand on this issue, I must disagree. I think it’s important to enforce all the laws on the books.
Yes, I would support asking the people of Texas to decide – but only if an amendment could be drafted that strictly required prescriptions issued by licensed Texas physicians.
Policies for open meetings and open records are consistent with living in a democracy. Public meetings should be open except for a very few recognized exceptions. Records of public proceedings should be subject to disclosure.

A short, but reasonable, time period should be established during which the appropriate public agency must disclose the requested documents. No extra time should be provided. If the disclosure is not timely or insufficient, as determined by the appropriate court, then the party requesting the documents should recover court costs. If such court determines that the agency has abused the process, stronger penalties should be imposed, including but not limited to an award of attorney’s fees for the requesting party.
As a matter of principle, the state should not over-rule the ability of local communities to take action where the Legislature fails. State laws should not prevent local governments from passing more stringent ordinances if that is what serves the best interest of their community.
A $300 payday loan in Texas ends up costing the average borrower over $1,000 to pay back, according to The Dallas Morning News. That’s more than anywhere else in the country, and it’s accomplished because lenders are exploiting loopholes in the laws that ensure fair play.

In the House, I would support legislation that does the following:

First, prevent renewals, the practice by which payday lenders trap consumers into paying off one loan with a new one. Second, cap the combined total of payday and title loans. Third, cap the total fees and interest lenders can impose. Fourth, support local control -- communities like Dallas must be allowed to continue enforcing their own rules and even passing new ones.

City/Town Dallas, TX
Age 41
Campaign Phone Number (214) 887-1978
I have been a resident of Texas for over 28 years, and I have resided in Texas House District 107 for over 8 years.
I am a partner with the Dallas law firm of Payne & Blanchard, LLP.
I received my B.A. from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2001 and my J.D. from S.M.U. in 2004.
•Active parishioner and volunteer at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church •Council officer within my Knights of Columbus Council •Member of the Lake Highlands Exchange Club •Board member of the Woodrow Wilson High School Community Foundation •Honorary member of the Board of the White Rock Lake YMCA •Member of the State Bar of Texas •Fellow with the DAYL Foundation •Served for 18 years in the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve - presently serving in the Marine Corps Reserve as a Major •Current elected Representative for Texas House District 107
• 2009-2010 Knight of the Year for my Knights of Columbus Council. • Received numerous awards and recognitions associated with my service as a state representative: • Honored as the North Texas Crime Commission Crime Fighter of the Year • Friend of Law Enforcement award from the Texas Municipal Police Association • Champion for Free Enterprise by the Texas Association of Business
I am the current representative for Texas House District 107. I was first elected in 2010.
As of our most recent filing with the Texas Ethics Commission, our campaign has raised $117,802.48 this year.
Associated Republicans of Texas, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, and the Texas Republican Representative Campaign Committee. However, we raised over $52,000 from people living in and around District 107.
I have never been arrested. As an attorney, I have represented individuals and entities in both criminal and civil proceedings.
I have never been a party to a civil lawsuit. As an attorney, I have represented individuals and entities in both criminal and civil proceedings. I have never declared bankruptcy.
I have served our country in the Marine Corps, first as an enlisted Marine and later as an officer. I have led Marines through challenging situations both in peacetime and while deployed in a combat zone. I have had the responsibility of commanding a unit of more than 200 Marine Corps recruits and drill instructors. In this role, it was my responsibility to ensure the well-being and proper training of those under my charge.
President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan was a charismatic and selfless leader that inspired our nation and led America out of the Cold War and the malaise of the 1970s. President Reagan unified our nation and worked with those with various viewpoints to craft pragmatic and real solutions to the difficulties faced by all Americans instead of simply playing partisan politics.
I am seeking re-election for the same reason I initially ran for this seat: to be a servant leader within my community. It is a great honor to serve and work for my friends and neighbors in Texas House District 107. The principle focus of my service as state representative has been to work for policies that encourage economic growth and job creation so hard-working Texas families can be empowered with opportunities and our younger workers can start on a path of career development. I will continue to support limited government solutions that help create a pro-economic growth environment because our greatest strength as a state comes from upwardly mobile individuals and communities. This is the kind of success other states are desperate to imitate.
Experienced leadership is necessary in Austin during the next legislative session as the Dallas delegation undergoes significant turnover. My ability to work across party lines helps deliver common-sense solutions that strengthen our state, empower hard-working Texas families with good job opportunities, and establish a solid future for our younger Texans. There are clear distinctions between my beliefs that government should play a more limited but effective role in helping guide our state while empowering individuals and my opponent’s view that larger, vastly expanded state government programs are necessary for Texas. Put simply, I favor the Texas model of limited but effective government while my opponent favors a big, expensive, centralized-government model.
As the Texas economy continues to grow and create new opportunities, people from all over are moving to our great state. This unprecedented growth has placed a strain on the state’s infrastructure—namely our water, transportation, and education systems. During the next legislative session, the Texas Legislature needs to focus on removing red tape that delays the creation of new water projects. The Legislature also needs to appropriate adequate funds for the development and maintenance of new road projects. Similarly, the state needs to take the necessary steps to move away from funding new highways solely with the usage of tolls. As to education, our Texas teachers have been unsung heroes. Texas has the second highest graduation rate in the U.S. This is because of our teachers. We need to continue to support our students by making sure more resources are driven to the classroom rather than being tied up in administrative channels. The state can reduce administrative costs on our school districts by removing unnecessary or redundant administrative mandates. Finally, given the federal government’s inability and/or unwillingness to act, the Texas Legislature must continue to provide our law enforcement agencies with additional resources to help secure the Texas-Mexico border and to reduce cartel related crime in the Rio Grande Valley.
Texas will have to make important investments in water and transportation in order to keep pace with the rapid growth in population. General spending levels, however, should increase only to keep pace with inflation and population growth. Based on current revenue projections, these goals can be accomplished without new sources of revenue. In addition, because of the failures of the federal government, Texas will need to spend additional money on securing the Texas-Mexico border for identifying and apprehending criminal illegal alien elements, and stopping the human smuggling, which is only serving to enrich drug cartels.
Texas has a well-deserved reputation for maintaining a low-tax environment and common sense regulations that help small businesses and empower entrepreneurs to succeed. This limited government model helps make Texas a magnet for new business development and re-location of corporate headquarters. However, as a consequence of our success, more people and businesses are moving to Texas. This has resulted in a strain on our water and transportation infrastructure. This strain on our infrastructure serves as a potential obstacle for continued economic growth. We must have infrastructure in place to support the growing population. Last session, I helped pass legislation to fund the development of new water projects in Texas. This session, the Legislature must find ways to allow for the quicker permitting of new reservoirs and other water projects. Additionally, the Legislature needs to appropriate adequate funding for new transportation projects in Texas. We cannot continue to rely solely on toll roads to fund new transportation projects.
In addition to administering state-federal programs, such as SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, and CHIP, Texas also provides workforce training, job search assistance, and child-care subsidies for job-seekers through the Texas Workforce Commission. Together, these programs create a sound safety net that provides resources to those who cannot provide care for themselves but emphasizes the development of responsible, productive, and self-sufficient citizens. The safety net is not perfect; eliminating fraud and waste will make the program more efficient and effective.
Unfortunately, Texas ranks far below the national average in the number of mental health professionals per capita. In order to improve mental health in Texas, the state must address this workforce shortage. Recruitment and retention of mental health professionals should be a priority. The Via Hope program endorsed by the Texas Department of State Health Services is a good example of an economical way to address the shortfall. That program trains and certifies peer specialists, who are mental health professionals with a lived experience of mental illness who are trained to support others with similar experiences. However, greater awareness of this program is needed to improve its effectiveness.
I advocate for policies that distinguish between safety and security. It is important that first responders and other emergency management personnel be aware of the location and status of potentially dangerous materials. However, it also is important to recognize the danger posed by making the location of hazardous materials readily available to bad actors looking to misuse those materials. I am proud to be part of the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety, which worked with our State Fire Marshall to create a website that allows Texans to determine if they live near a facility that stores ammonium nitrate, without revealing a general list of all facilities. This website strikes the delicate balance between security and safety by providing the information our families need to make informed decisions about where to live while preventing dangerous individuals from accessing information that could help them commit an act of terrorism.
The goal of "Closing the Gaps" was to close higher education achievement gaps with other states; meaning that we started sadly behind the national curve. Texas has done much over the past 15 years to improve access and outcomes in our higher education system, but parity with other states should not be our final goal. Now, Texas must move to be a global leader in higher education, not just nationally. This means directing our focus on completion rates - particularly among minority and male populations, areas where we still lag behind - while continuing to build on successes in access. Any future master plan should include goals related to affordability and lowering student debt loads.
The new accountability system ought to be judged based on how closely its assessments reflect reality. We should not accept a system that conceals or encourages mediocrity. On the same note, just as we do with our public schools, we must hold charter schools accountable. Over the past months, there has been significant news coverage concerning a small group of charter schools that are not fulfilling their mission to provide quality education to their students. Due to legislation that I supported last session, many of these failing schools are finally being held accountable and will no longer be allowed to maintain a charter or access our precious education tax dollars. Fundamentally, we must ensure every school in Texas is successfully serving our students and families. For those consistently failing to meet the standards, the public deserves to see meaningful action and just consequences.
Unfortunately, the current school finance system is a hodgepodge of hold harmless provisions for school districts. This lack of a formula driven system will inevitably lead us back to the courthouse. Texas has spent too many years fighting over school finance in the courts. Therefore, we need to comprehensively review the entire system and design a fair system for all of Texas. Two of District 107’s school districts - Mesquite ISD and Garland ISD - are consistently recognized as being good and efficient stewards of tax dollars. However, because of their efficiencies, the state asks these districts to stretch their dollars even further while less efficient districts continue to receive more funding per student. Any new system implemented by the Legislature must promote efficient use of tax dollars.
Before the Legislature looks at ways to create more transportation revenue, it needs to address the diversion of transportation dollars to non-transportation projects. Over the past decade, billions of dollars of transportation revenue were diverted from the Texas Department of Transportation to other agencies. It should be a priority of the Legislature to ensure highway dollars are going to highway projects. While I generally believe the Legislature should move away from creating dedicated fund accounts, I do support the idea of diverting vehicle sales tax revenue to transportation projects. Finally, I support the limited and reasonable use of toll roads and private-public partnerships. I believe Dallas is a great example of how an area can use a mixture of public roadways along with toll roads to meet its transportation needs. However, we must be cautious to avoid situations such as what we see occurring in Collin County, where there is a proliferation of toll roads.
Due process is essential when dealing with the ultimate penalty. Last session, the Legislature made significant improvement to due process through passage of a bill known as the "Michael Morton Act." The act will require prosecutors to open their files to defendants and keep records of the evidence they disclose. This act will reduce wrongful convictions and increase the integrity of the criminal justice system. With that said, Texas must always work to improve our criminal justice system to ensure reliable verdicts and just penalties.
Last session I was proud to pass legislation to correct a discrepancy in the concealed carry law that would potentially result in criminal convictions for CHL licensees who accidentally revealed their weapons. While I believe concealed handguns are far more effective than open carry, I do support a law abiding citizen’s right to carry openly.
I support prosecutorial and judicial discretion when dealing with non-violent offenders. The Texas drug court system was an important step towards keeping non-violent offenders out of our prison system while providing the needed treatment for users. It is important to note that the cost of treatment is much less than the cost of incarceration. An example that this treatment model works is evident in the fact that the Legislature was able to close down a prison this past session instead of needing to construct new facilities.
I support medical research into the medicinal properties of marijuana, if those properties would be delivered in such a way without producing a “high.” However, it may not be necessary to amend the constitution to allow such medical research.
Open records and meetings laws are important to citizens, as sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant. However, laws must keep pace with technology. Making open meetings laws flexible enough to accommodate new remote meeting technologies while maintaining openness to the public could make public boards more efficient and transparent in their oversight duties.
Underground oil and gas reserves, such as those in the Permian Basin, are often large and span multiple counties. Therefore, the legal framework drillers and others in the industry must operate under should be uniform, rather than a patchwork of laws and regulations spread over the state.
Financial institutions offering payday lending services should operate under common sense, unified state regulations, such as the notice and disclosure rules passed by the Legislature in 2011, which I supported. These state regulations are preferable to a patchwork of local ordinances. Regulations should be designed to protect consumers from bad faith lenders, but still allow consumers to have access to credit from institutions working within the law.