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Texas Independent Electoral Politics: Bastrop Experience

Updated: Jun 11



City of Bastrop: Independent Texans PAC (IT PAC) was founded in 2001 after the implosion of the Reform Party founded by Ross Perot, IT PAC's slogan is "the poorest little PAC in Texas, NOT a political whorehouse". In two small turnout local Bastrop elections, IT PAC was able to lend an effective helping hand by simply augmenting the concerns of a broad cross-section of voters of all persuasions. They put aside their differences and worked together, even in a GOP runoff.

 

In the small city of 12,000 people, IT PAC supported Kerry Fossler, a winning candidate for Bastrop City Council, a non-partisan race. The PAC documented that Fossler's opponent (Jimmy Crouch) was supporting the placement of a project -- the Gateway multi-use shopping mall and hotel -- at a location that was all kind of wrong. Gateway developers had been working it with a few Council Members and the City Manager to move a zoning change before anyone understood that it was at the top of the hill adjacent to Bastrop State Park and overlooking Bastrop. The park was the epicenter of the massive Bastrop Complex Fire in 2011. Gateway would have destroyed one of the small piney wooded forests left. When the news hit, hundreds of people showed up at a hearing, startling the clueless promoters.


It also helped that the opposition disparagingly called everyone "tree huggers." The fire had already made tree huggers out of everyone who lives in Bastrop. LIV's article linked to the picture above spread like wildfire on social media.

 

IT PAC also put together its case by drawing the connections between the local clique promoting the Gateway Project and a local coup’ d’etat attempt to humiliate and drive Bastrop Mayor Lyle Nelson out of office with a doomed recall petition, while also stripping the Mayor’s few powers. (This IT PAC article on the attempted recall was quite popular.)

 

The bottom line is IT PAC was able to spur a community dialogue leading to an "each one, reach one" effect with neighbors talking to neighbors. There is nothing more powerful than local talk in local campaigns, if you stick to facts and allow people to express their differences – including your opponents.




GOP Runoff Candidate, Butch Carmack:

A similar strategy was taken up by IT PAC supporting a winning candidate in the GOP runoff for Bastrop County Commissioner Precinct 1, Butch Carmack. It didn’t hurt that Butch’s opponent bragged about the support she had from big developers, and Butch had demonstrated his concerns about how growth is on fire in Bastrop. He is also well-known and well-liked as a straight shooter. Bastrop's growth curve here, is THE issue driving many problems begging for solutions.


The humble 4 x 6 postcard posted above went a long way when the word got on social media. Butch supporters -- and there were hundreds -- simply called their friends.


It's very cool that more people are now watching their local government. Here's a post on NextDoor by a neighbor who had largely ignored local politics until the Gateway Project hit his idyllic neighborhood like a sledgehammer:

"Politics on every level has turned into a dog fight between two very dysfunctional groups. It’s all about them and their misdirected pride and huge ego. HELLO, the public is still out here…Remember us???" 

What's Next for the Texas Independent Movement?

We need your help to build Texas independent electoral politics!


Be sure to read all the post published in LIV News, June 11.


Write us a note here or give us a call at 512.213.4511. Donate to us or become a dues-paying member. And, please sign up to join us for our June 17th forum, "Blessed are the Peacemakers."


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