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Texas House, District 65

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    Alex Mendoza (D) Corporate Philanthropy

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    Ron Simmons (R) Investment Advisor

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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 Lewisville
Age 40
Campaign Phone Number (469) 269-6986
Email Address
6 years
I work in corporate philanthropy for a global retailer. I oversee our corporate strategy and vision on how our company engages and makes an impact in our immediate community.
BA - Applied Arts and Sciences, University of North Texas
Treasurer, Denton County Democratic Party, HD 65 Club Member, Stonewall Democrats of Denton County Member, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Member, Marine Corps League
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
2012 - State House of Representatives, District 65
About $5,000.
Stonewall Democrats of Denton County Louise Mendoza-Millen Brenda Vaughn
During my time in the U.S. Marines, I led many Marines on important training and combat-readiness exercises. I was able to translate my leadership experience and lead multi-national, multi-million dollar projects for large global corporations with global teams. I have also utilized my leadership skills to lead large-scale volunteerism community engagement projects throughout the DFW area.
No response
I was inspired to run because of my interactions and conversations with people in my community. My community is struggling, and we are struggling because of policies that are put in place and because our State is not adapting to the changes around us. Drastic cuts were made to education in the previous years - these cuts were felt throughout our community - by school closures, educators being laid-off, and school programs being completely removed from our curriculum. Our community needs pre-K education, after school programs, well-qualified educators ... not more cuts. People are struggling because they can hardly make ends meet. Even having a full-time job does not necessarily mean that one can pull themselves out of poverty ... we need jobs that pay a living wage. I am running because I will always fight for my community and my State --- and put Texans first! I know I can make a difference and I know I can contribute to making Texas a better place for all regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, gender identification, age, or socioeconomic status. I believe in protecting our rights and freedoms and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity at achieving the American dream.
My opponent does not represent hard-working Texans in my district and across this great state of Texas. My opponent does not believe Texas Women deserve equal pay for equal work, instead my opponent voted against HB950, a bill that required equal pay for women. My opponent also believes that our Veterans do not deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and deserving of high-quality care, instead my opponent voted against HB489 and refused to expand access to service dogs for Veterans with PTSD. My opponent also does not believe that our children deserve access to a quality education, he voted against establishing a breakfast program for students. My opponent will continue to vote against hard-working Texans, against women, against children, against the working-poor, and against Veterans. I will truly represent all Texans, and will ensure that every Texan is treated as equals under the law. Additionally, I will make sure that women are treated fairly and earn as much as their male counterparts. I will make sure that our Veterans have access to comprehensive health care. I will make sure that Texas students have access to the highest-quality education.
We must have a fully-funded education program. In 2011, $5.4 billion was cut from public education. This meant fewer teachers, fewer staff, and fewer classrooms for our students. After many lawsuits were filed against the State parents, districts, and education advocates, some cuts were restored; however, funding was still $500 short of the level where funding was prior to the 2011 cuts. At a minimum, we require $5.9 billion per biennium to return to 2008 levels. Nearly 1 in 4 Texans are without health care coverage. Texas also has 852,000 children without health insurance, the most of any other State in the U.S. Texas also has the highest rate of poor adults without health care. By expanding Medicare, over one million Texas would gain health care coverage. By not expanding Medicare, we are paying for a program that we are not benefiting from. This essentially means that our tax dollars are being held hostage because of partisan politics.
Cuts to certain programs were not enough. When Texas ranks amongst the lowest states in education spending per student and healthcare spending per patient, the direct correlation is that these programs are not well-funded. We must also not continue to neglect our infrastructure demands. We can do better … we deserve better!
I would advocate for a comprehensive investment into our infrastructure. By investing in Texas, we will generate jobs and improve upon the favorable business conditions that we have now. We can strengthen our economy even further by having a well-educated workforce. Investing in higher education, would mean more qualified and well-educated workers for Texas-based companies and would also entice companies to relocate to Texas.
The biggest change that can be made is to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Texas values hard work, and by raising the minimum wage we show that we value hard work over welfare programs. If Texans make a living wage, the need to rely on government benefits diminishes, thus saving taxpayers money. Additionally, this would be a significant boost to our economy … if Texans make more money, they will spend more money.
Adequate spending must be made towards a public education and awareness campaign. Also, continue to fund programs that directly and indirectly support our Veterans.
Comprehensive regulatory reform. Safety and environmental policies must be put in place to prevent another disaster from occurring.
The cost of higher education has increased on a consistent pace and financial assistance has not kept up. One of the goals of “Closing the Gaps in Higher Education” was to increase enrollment rates for minority students; however, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board predicts that Hispanic enrollment will fall short of the target. We must revisit the goals that were identified and determine if the population shifts and changes will have an impact on those goals, and determine if the approach to reaching those goals must be updated. Even if Texas in successful in increasing enrollment, we must expand financial assistance. Today, a student attending a four-year institution who is living below poverty had an average financial need of $9,480 per year.
No response.
By expanding Pre-K programs in Texas. The $200 million Pre-K Early Start Grant was cut in 2011 and the 83rd legislature failed to restore funding and decided to only spend $30 million on the program instead. Also, by allowing private-school vouchers to use taxpayer dollars to send children to private and religious school would take tax dollars from public schools to pay for a select few to attend private school.
I would definitely not propose converting paved roads into gravel roads. There are two borrowing options available to TxDOT for deposits into the State Highway Fund. The Texas Transportation Commission is allowed to issue funds if a shortfall is anticipated. The other borrowing option is for the TxDOT to borrow from any source to carry out its function. If borrowing is a considered option, the right level of oversight and governance must be established to ensure projects are effectively managed.
Since 1973, 144 people have been released from death row across the U.S. due to evidence of their wrongful conviction. In Texas, 12 people have been released. Additionally, there is a history of wrongful executions. The Dallas Morning News estimated that the average cost of a Texas death penalty case is $2.3 million vs. $750,000 for life in prison. Because of this, I call for the abolition of the death penalty in Texas!
No. As a proud U.S. Marine, and a responsible gun owner, I do not favor open carry for handgun owners in Texas.
First of all, I advocate for effective and less costly justice measures, such as drug courts and probation. Approximately 90% of drug-related arrests in Texas are for the possession of drugs which are costing taxpayers nearly $700,000 every day. I strongly advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana possession and reduce the tax burden on Texas taxpayers.
No response.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) must enforce safety regulations to prevent future oil accidents, and punish those who pollute our air and our oceans. The TCEQ is required to enforce the Clean Air Act. I also oppose any expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline in Texas.
I will protect Texans from fraudulent, unfair, and discriminatory payday lending business practices.
Address P.O. Box 117567
City/Town Carrollton, TX 75011
Age 57
Campaign Phone Number (214) 676-4998
Fax Number n/a
Email Address
11 years 7 months
Chairman and Partner, Retirement Advisors of America
Bachelor Degree Dallas Baptist University
Denton County Child Advocacy, Advisory Board Member Texas Office of Preventative Developmental Disabilities, Executive Committee Member Autism Society of America, Board Member (currently on leave of absence)

Deacon, First Baptist Church Dallas; DBU Tom Landry Leadership Committee, Parents Council and Campaign Committee Furman University, Youth Sports Coach, Sunday School Director Prestonwood Baptist Church, International Leadership Speaker Equip International, 2011 Superbowl Breakfast Planning Committee
Elected as State Representative for HD 65 in 2012 and still hold that office.
For the current campaign we have currently raised approximately $106,000 (includes $55k loaned to campaign by my wife and me)

Ron and Lisa Simmons Texans for Lawsuit Reform Apartment Association of Texas
Never filed personal or professional bankruptcy. Involved in three business lawsuits over 30 years in business. Two ended with rulings in our favor and one was settled between parties before any official suit was filed.
One of the most recent things I am proud of is to file legislation to improve insurance coverage for people on the Autism spectrum. I was able to garner votes from 149 Texas House Members and 25 Senators to pass landmark legislation that puts us near the top of states who care for those on the Autism spectrum. In addition, as a young adult fairly new to Texas, I, along with two other partners, started an investment company from scratch and now 24 years later the firm, Retirement Advisors of America, manages approximately $2 billion for many Texas families (and families in other states) and employ approximately 40 people in the DFW area. Over the years I have served as President, CEO and now Chairman of Retirement Advisors.
State Senator Jane Nelson. Before I was elected in 2012 she was the one I most admired, and now, after working with her for 2 years, even more so than ever. She is a great example to all of us who are or seek to be public servants!
As I said in 2012, I have been fortunate to live the American dream. I come from a family of two school teachers in Arkansas and grew up with three siblings. Financially we were lower middle class. Through hard work (10 years of night school to get my college degree) and God's grace, my wife and I have been blessed financially and are in a position to give back through public service. The voters of HD 65 sent me to the Texas House to follow through on my and their commonsense conservative values of an efficient government that focuses on it's core functions. I did that in my first session and will do so again if given the honor of serving them in the 84th legislature.
30 years in business with 25 years as a business owner in the Dallas area along with 35 years of raising a family gave me the real life, real issue experience that is sorely needed in our government - at all levels.

After I was elected 2012 I made it a point to sit down and meet individually with all 149 other Texas House members (Republicans and Democrats) so that I could get to know these people personally and how we could best work together. As far as I know and what others people have told me is that no other State Representative has done this. I also came up with an idea called Purple Thursday - whereby all Freshman legislators wore purple on Thursday to show that we could be opposed on many policies but still strive to work together on issues important to Texas. Within a few weeks virtually the entire House of Representatives was participating.

I authored and passed legislation to help families with members on the Autism Spectrum and also passed legislation protecting free speech rights at voting locations throughout Texas.

I was a co-author of HB2 which provided protection for our most vulnerable citizens - the unborn and increased the safety standards of facilities which provide abortions.

My Opponent ran against me in 2012 as a member of the ultra liberal Green Party and also ran as candidate for Vice President of the United States for the Socialist Party in 2012. His view of what is good for Texas and HD 65 is one of single pay government provided health care, abortion on demand, and what would appear to be more government involvement in virtually all areas of our daily lives.
I believe the greatest challenge government has is resisting the temptation to see themselves as a hammer and every problem as a nail. Government must ask themselves these questions: Is the service or regulation necessary? Can it best be performed or regulated by government or can private industry provide the service or regulate itself? Even if necessary, what is the cost to taxpayers?
We should invest currently generated revenue to pay for needed roads and bridges as opposed to debt or toll roads when at all possible.

We should end the "diversions" used in the past to be able to "certify" the budget as balanced. We removed hundreds of millions of dollars from this tactic in the 83rd legislative session and I and others are committed to doing more in the 84th.

I believe we will be forced to increase our funding for border security as President Obama and his Democratic associates have refused to adequately protect our border. If the federal government will not provide border security, we must.

We must do whatever necessary to eliminate Medicaid fraud and when done correctly this will allow us to spend less on Medicaid.

I am a proponent of zero based budgeting and believe this will uncover "financial fat" that is inevitably found in all large organizations.
We need to reduce the types of businesses that need to be regulated or licensed by the State. An elimination of the so called Margins Tax will further incentivize business growth and businesses to move to Texas. Border security will make our south Texas cities more attractive to new business. Education system that focuses on teaching in the classroom and student outcomes will make our labor force more attractive to business. Having the very best road system in the country will incentivize business to grow in Texas or relocate here.
The best thing we can do for those deserving of a safety net is eliminating fraud in Medicaid and all other state provided services to the disabled and poor.

I also believe that no government can be the best safety net for those in need. The best safety net comes from other family members, faith based organizations, secular non profits, and individuals and private business in the local community. We need to have an appropriate means of identifying those truly in need and then coordinate how all of the service providers can work together to serve, with government being the last resort.
I believe we should consolidate all our mental health needs into one agency under one agency head. This will save money by eliminating duplication that exist today and will ensure that the latest methods of care are used in situations were mental health services are warranted. We should also continue to push mental health services down to the local level where they know the community and people needing those services the best.
I am a member of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee that has held hearings on what happened at West and the appropriate response. While the natural response is to rush to implement new layers of regulations, government must take a careful hand before swinging our "hammer". While maybe not ideal, I believe the commission we are proposing of state and local officials along with private business to recommend what changes need to be made is the correct approach. This will allow us as a legislature to insert the correct oversight not just new oversight.
Total transparency form all our universities and colleges is the first and most important step. There should be nothing (short of releasing improper private information about an employee or student) that every citizen of Texas could not have access. More coordination between our community colleges and universities for transfer students should be implemented so more courses are transferred, therefore reducing cost for students and their families. We should make it as easy as practical for our university and college leaders to terminate underperforming employees.
One of the key measurements will be the number of young adults entering the workforce with skills needed for a quality job and not just being trained to enter college. On a more basic level we should keep the evaluations as simple as possible - can the child read and use language at the appropriate level, can the child solve math problems at an appropriate level, does the child know our system of government, our state's and nation's history, and does the child have appropriate science knowledge. I think this can be determined fairly easily by experts who understand knowledge development but we must be willing to slay the sacred cows that can hurt the children such as protecting bad teachers, over emphasis on standardized testing, and enabling our economically or socially disadvantage students to accept that as an excuse for lack of needed progress.
The best way to support education is to first determine - legislatively, the definition of an "efficient education" that is called for in our constitution. Once we define "efficient education" we can then determine how to best finance education. Until that time we are simply "fighting windmills".
As a member (the only freshman legislator appointed) of the House of Representatives Special Select Committee on Transportation Funding I have been an integral part of this process. I believe we can produce the needed revenue through the passage of the constitutional amendment in November, the elimination of most - if not all - diversions from transportation revenue sources, increased allocation from general revenue, increase design/build allowed projects, competitive bidding for all aspects of road construction and make sure we have the lowest cost per lane mile of road repair and new construction of any large state in the nation. I do not believe we will need to raise taxes and we should only consider debt if it offers the most efficient way (on behalf of taxpayers) to fund these needs.
Of course we must conduct business as a state in a civil yet efficient manner, even for the worst of our citizens. However, our number one priority in this area should not be what do we do for the murderer but have we done everything we should for the victims' family. If and until we ask ourselves have we done all we should for victims' families I don't believe we should use state resources to make things more pleasant for the convicted murderer.
We need to make sure every punishment fits the crime that has been committed. Marijuana possession is a crime and therefore there should be consequences when this crime is committed. Having said that, I am open to evaluating cost versus benefit of our current system versus changes that will be proposed.
No. While I am still researching the value of some uses for certain forms or derivatives of marijuana at this point I am not convinced legalized use in any form would be a benefit to Texas or it's citizen. I think we would be wise to observe the current "experiments" in Colorado and Washington before we move aggressively in this area.
I believe that we should evaluate our open records and meeting laws to make sure that he law is clear and concise with a bias towards being more and not less open and easier for citizens to navigate records online, participate in meetings and question local and state officials and programs.
In most situations local control over issues is best. However in the oil and gas industry there might be reason to have a state wide, level playing field so that companies can know what to expect and the regulation cost of doing business can be consistent across the state. I believe this will be reviewed in the 84th legislature.
Predatory practices, if they in fact exist, of any business should be of concern. However, we must first encourage strongly industry to regulate itself before the strong hand of government steps in and takes action that has unintended consequences. While I am not an expert on payday lending I do know that people voluntarily enter those businesses and decide to do business with them. The better means to address this problem is better education of consumers and this is also not government's (other than teaching wise money management skills in our schools) responsibility but rest with the individual and his or her family.