The following is a compilation of the unedited responses from John Smithee, Republican State Representative, District 86, to the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide Questionnaire. Smithee is running against Democrat Mike Purcell in the November election.
State Representative, District 86
What is your educational background?
Graduate of Amarillo College; West Texas State (now WTAMU); Texas Tech Law
Please list any of your political, civic or non-profit experience.
Have served in the House of Representatives since 1985; chair of House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee; member of Texas Judicial Council.
What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?
I think the best experience is simply listening to voters to understand the problems that matter to them, and hearing their ideas as to how we can make positive changes.
In 2017, Senator Don Huffines filed resolutions calling for term limits on Texas elected officials. Under Huffines' resolution, state legislators would have been limited to 12 years in office, judges would have been limited to 18 years in office and local elected officials would have been limited to 12 years in office. Would you have supported this resolution if it came before you for a vote? Why or why not?
Obviously, I have served for longer than 12 years. But, legislative seniority has historically been one of the ways that rural areas like ours, who are vastly under-represented in Austin, can hold their own. Still, I would be open to considering some form of term limits.
Do you believe that Texas judges should be elected in partisan elections? Why or why not?
I do feel that the present selection system is in need of reform. However, I am not certain that an appointed judiciary is the way to resolve the problems that exist.
Under Texas law, non-judicial candidates are permitted to accept donations in any amount from a donor. Would you support capping the dollar amount that a donor may give a candidate in a single election cycle? Why or why not?
No. But, I do favor the full disclosure that exists in our campaign laws, which allows the voters to decide whether any candidate is too dependent on a few contributors or groups.
Do you support property tax reform? If so, what package would you ideally like to see approved in Austin?
Yes. High property taxes have become a real burden to Texas property owners. Although no property taxes are assessed or collected at the state level, I do think the legislature needs to reform the system from top to bottom, including the manner in which properties are appraised.
Do you believe that the Texas Railroad Commission should be renamed? Why or why not?
Not a major issue, but I would have no problem with changing the name.
Please rate the performance of Speaker Joe Straus during the 2017 Texas Legislative session.
Do you support "Constitutional Carry" legislation? Why or why not?
Our concealed carry and open carry licensing system has worked well. Any Constitutional Carry legislation I could support would have to have safeguards to address violent felons legally carrying weapons, public rioting, and terrorism concerns.
Should hotel occupancy tax legislation be reformed? Why or why not?
The legislature has historically left hotel occupancy tax issues up to local government entities. HOTs have always been a relatively painless way for municipal entities to raise revenue because most of the taxes are paid by persons from outside the jurisdiction. There are abuses which should be dealt with
Is Texas in need of the passage of ethics reform legislation? Why or why not?
Yes. Ethics reform is an ongoing battle. The primary objective is full disclosure and transparency. As long as we as voters can know all relevant information, we can make informed decisions.
Are you supported by Amarillo Matters?
How will you better represent local voters than your opponent(s)?
We have to remember that, by definition, we are representatives. Although I make mistakes from time to time, I have always felt that my views and votes are consistent with the views of a vast majority of the people I represent.
Do you have any aspirations for higher office?
Why should voters choose you on November 6th?
As voters we choose who we think will best represent our moral and political values. That is a decision that only we as voters can make. I have been fortunate to represent the finest people in the world, and would appreciate the privilege of continuing to do so. No one will work harder in trying to make our voice heard.
*Please note: John Smithee has been endorsed by Amarillo Matters