The following is a compilation of the unedited responses from Mike Purcell, Democratic candidate for State Representative, District 86, to the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide Questionnaire. Purcell is running against Republican incumbent John Smithee in the November election.
State Representative, District 86
What is your educational background?
BA from Texas Tech, majoring in History and Political Science
Please list any of your political, civic or non-profit experience.
Past President of the Potter Randall Democratic Club, State Senate District 31 Democratic Executive Committeeman, Vice chairman of the SDEC Subcommittee on Election Process and Voter turnout, Member of the SDEC Subcommittee on Party Messaging, Delegate to the Texas Democratic Convention, member of the Democratic non-urban caucus, Chairman of the Texas Senate 31 Democratic State Convention Caucus, served as a deputy voter registrar in Potter and Randall counties, 30 year member of the Texas High school Coaches Association, Member of the Texas Retired Teachers Association.
What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?
For 30 year I taught political history and the legislative process and I have knowledge of what has worked and what has failed in Texas State government. For the last 3 years I have made quarterly trips to Austin as a member of the Texas Democratic Party governing body to develop legislative strategies and plan statewide political activities. As the Democratic Executive Committeeman for Senate District 31 I traveled around the 37 counties of the Panhandle and Permian Basin becoming familiar with the people and their needs and desires.
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?
I am in favor of term limits and would have voted for some form of this resolution. My opponent has been in office for well 33 years. At one time he ran in favor of term limits. But once he got elected he changed his mind. I generally believe that voters should be able to elect whoever they want. But with voter turnout so low it becomes difficult to unseat incumbents. So until mass voting becomes the rule term limits is a good idea.
Do you believe that Texas judges should be elected in partisan elections? Why or why not?
Our founding fathers believed judges should be appointed for life. This system takes judges out of politics and allows them to follow the law regardless of what is popular. Appointed judges are free to abide by the Constitution without worrying about what is popular. If these appointed judges are found incompetent or corrupt they can be impeached.
Elected judges, on the other hand, can be pressured to do what the voters want even if that is legally wrong. If you like politicians then you may want to elect judges.
Judges should be legal experts. This expertise will be difficult for laymen voters to assess. In Texas we elect our judges and any change would be difficult and necessitate an amendment to the state constitution.
There is no perfect system but I prefer appointment.
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?
I would cap the dollar amount. Without a cap one millionaire could decide the election.
Do you support property tax reform? If so, what package would you ideally like to see approved in Austin?
Tax reform should be addressed in every biennium. I do not support any package offered so far. Tax policy should be designed to meet the financial needs of the state in a way that provides the most good to the most citizens in a just and equitable fashion. First we must provide the funds necessary for the best educational system in the world. Our children deserve nothing less. Second, we must create and maintain the best state law enforcement system in the world. Our citizen deserve nothing less. Third, we must create and maintain the best state infrastructure in the world. Our business community deserves nothing less. Fourth, we must provide funds for whatever services our citizens need and demand in a way that serves all sectors of our population to provide liberty and justice for all.
Do you believe that the Texas Railroad Commission should be renamed? Why or why not?
Yes, it's main job is regulation of oil and gas production in Texas.
Please rate the performance of Speaker Joe Straus during the 2017 Texas Legislative session.
Do you support "Constitutional Carry" legislation? Why or why not?
No. The Constitution guarantees various rights and freedoms, but none are without reasonable restrictions. You have freedom of speech but you are not free to lie. You have freedom to assemble but you cannot riot. You have the right to keep and bear arms but not if you are a danger to your fellow citizens. The right of the Las Vegas shooter to keep and bear arms was not more important than the lives of 58 people.
Should hotel occupancy tax legislation be reformed? Why or why not?
All revenue sources used by government must be under constant scrutiny. The hotel occupancy tax is a way of raising revenue without taxing local citizens.
Is Texas in need of the passage of ethics reform legislation? Why or why not?
Yes. The influence of lobbyists and political donors must be completely transparent. All money spent to influence legislation must be reported. furthermore the financial records of state officials must be a matter of public record.
Are you supported by Amarillo Matters?
How will you better represent local voters than your opponent(s)?
I will represent the interests of all, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, all races and creeds, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We are all citizens of the greatest Nation in the history of the World. I will dedicate myself to working for the most good for the most people. Liberty and justice for all
Do you have any aspirations for higher office?
Why should voters choose you on November 6th?
The purpose of government is to insure liberty and justice for all. Our state government has failed in that responsibility. Good hard working families deserve better. Too many Texans are in need of better schools, better jobs, affordable healthcare and college, higher wages, a secure retirement, and lower property taxes.
We must improve public education. Our state constitution mandates a statewide education system. We must ensure that we have the best teachers and low student/teacher ratio. We must stop the costly and unnecessary standardized testing. We must fix our broken school finance system. We must make post secondary education affordable.
We must create economic opportunity for all. Hard working people must be fairly compensated with higher wages, job training programs, paid sick leave, and affordable childcare. One of the biggest drags on our economy is that over half of our population does not have enough money to spend on consumer goods. If we are going to use sales tax to fund government them we must make sure people have plenty of money to spend.
A strong middle class economy demands a strong Social Security System, the ability to save for the future, healthcare insurance, and ending Republican property tax hikes