About a minute into a two hour interview with Wayne Faircloth, Republican nominee for Texas State Rep, District 23, I knew this was no ordinary, career politician. His passion for people, for giving them opportunities to succeed in life, was palpable, and he was far more interested in talking about that than in standard boilerplate political issues.
As we sat in his office in League City, he told me about his faith, his family, about losing a son in a tragic drowning accident, and about his vision for District 23. He stressed the need to return to the core values that made America great – instilling a strong work ethic into our youth, taking care of our neighbors without government getting involved, and having churches return to their role as leaders of the community.
He wasn’t afraid to talk about the issues though. In fact, he was very open and candid about most of them. On public education, he stresses the need to allow teachers to run their classrooms without interference from administrators. He told me that if a student was a discipline problem, that student needed to be expelled, not allowed to continue to disrupt the classroom. He thinks that education is a privilege and if you can’t behave, if you don’t want to be there, then get out of the way of the other students that do want to learn. Recognizing that the majority of students should not be on a traditional college track, he hopes to implement more private/public partnerships stressing vocational education.
In discussing vocational education, he mentioned that ExxonMobil in Baytown is ready for a plant expansion that will require 10,000 skilled laborers – but we don’t have them. This is the type of vocational training needed. In addition to that expansion, the entire Gulf Coast is brimming with plans for expansion because of the Eagle Ford Shale energy boom in South Texas. But we don’t have the skilled labor force necessary. Other Republican leaders, such as Sen. Dan Patrick, have noted the need for more vocational training as well. College of the Mainland, in the heart of the district, is already positioned for this type of training.
Another key issue for the district, Galveston Island in particular, is gambling. While he supports an amendment allowing people of the state to vote on the issue, he talked about the logistical nightmare that would need to be addressed before Galveston could host an extra 100-200 thousand people a day. Whoa, I guess I’ve never thought about that part of the equation. The Gulf Freeway is already a nightmare, I can’t imagine what it would be like if casinos were built on the island.
Obviously, UTMB and rebuilding it is a key part of the districts economy. Mr. Faircloth takes issue with the incumbent, Craig Eiland, taking credit for getting the state to rebuild it after Hurricane Ike. Mr. Faircloth correctly notes the work of State Sen. Mike Jackson, State Rep. Larry Taylor, and State Rep. John Davis in making that happen. While I’m sure that Mr. Eiland did help, the plain fact of the matter is that in a Republican controlled legislature, he doesn’t have the kind of stroke necessary to pull off something like that, even with his membership on the Appropriations Committee. Mr. Eiland’s campaign billboards boast that party doesn’t matter – well, if not, why not put that you are a Democrat on them? That is one of the things I noticed driving down to meet Mr. Faircloth.
One of the biggest issues in this race is TWIA, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. If you live on the coast, as I do, you understand that insurance is expensive and getting harder to find. In fact, if you look on Mr. Eiland’s Daily News questionnaire, he notes that State Farm dropped 11,000 customers this year – I was one of them! But I don’t think Mr. Eiland’s solution, forcing State Farm to insure me, is acceptable – why should other Texans subsidize me simply because I like living on the coast? Mr. Faircloth, a State Farm agent, has far a far better idea – the state of Texas should get out of the insurance business altogether. Here are their answers to the TWIA questions:
14. What reforms are still needed in Texas’ system for windstorm insurance? What do you propose?
Faircloth: Despite false advertising, TWIA claimants can still have legal representation. The trial lawyers being paid 40-67% on top of claim damages, is patently unfair. After all, Texas Windstorm is funded by tax dollars and policyholder premiums. Hurricane claims must be quickly and accurately. The State of Texas needs to depopulate TWIA and create incentives for the standard market to provide coverage for property which meets Windstorm Building construction codes. Also, providing legislative reform which protects home policies from being attached to rising water and storm surge losses, aka flooding will provide a predictable marketplace for insurers. The State needs to get out of the insurance market.
Eiland: We need to force the insurance companies of the state to depopulate TWIA. We start by making them take good risks on the inland part of our counties. I see no reason to allow insurance companies to exclude places like Friendswood and Pearland when they are so far from the coast. We need to prevent companies like State Farm from cancelling 11,000 long term good clients without recourse. TWIA has to pay adjusters to estimate damages after a storm. Every TWIA policy holder also has a homeowners policy. All of the large insurance companies have catastrophe teams nationwide. We should not try too recreate the wheel. We should pay the homeowner company to adjust the TWIA claim.
15. Should a person who has oversight responsibilities in the legislature be taking TWIA legal cases or handling TWIA policies?
Faircloth: A legislator has the ability to create laws. A legislator who is a lawyer, has the potential to make the law and then use them for his own purposes. This is a fundamental problem with our current representative, Craig Eiland. He should have protected the peoples money in the Catastrophe Reserve Trust Fund of TWIA, instead he fought against protection reforms and made millions of dollars. He did not go to court to trial, this was a mediated settlement. The defense lawyers and the trial lawyers extracted over $150 million $$$$dollars of your and my money. This is wrong and many people in the District recognize this as a conflict of interest. Cases being filed today are motivated by greed. Craig is wrong on TWIA.
Eiland: The TWIA Oversight Committee was created in 2009 by House Bill 4409. I have never been on the TWIA Oversight Committee, I specifically asked not to be put on that Committee. I accepted my first Ike case for a local respected businessman after the 2009 session was completed. Because of TWIA and other insurance companies’ treatment of storm victims I represented may people and business for Hurricane Ike damage. When I returned to the legislature I asked for and received a favorable House ethics opinion before voting on any property insurance issues. Doctors, farmers and CPAs and even insurance agents and lawyers tend to be on committees where their expertise is best utilized.
It’s a shame what Eiland did. Even worse is that he didn’t bother to move back to the district after the storm. That’s right, he lives in Austin – well, at least his family does. He claims to live in the District during the week and in Austin on weekends, flying back and forth on his jet paid for with…TWIA money? Who knows. What we do know is that he admitted in his own campaign press emails that his family lives in Austin. You know, there were lots and lots of people whose homes were destroyed in Hurricane Ike. Most of us rebuilt and remained in the community. Mr. Eiland fled to Austin. He needs to be like former State Sen. Kyle Janek and resign his seat if that is where he wants to live. What is more important? Keeping your state rep position so that you can keep your power to influence legislation and then sue people or being with your family every night?
There is a stark difference between these two men. District 23 deserves someone that respects the community enough to live there. District 23 deserves someone that will fight for traditional values and return respect to teachers. District 23 deserves someone that can work with the Republican majority to ensure that jobs are plentiful and a skilled workforce is there to fill them. District 23 does not deserve someone that will sue you at the drop of a hat and take resources out of the community.
District 23 deserves Wayne Faircloth. I hope you agree, but don’t just take my word for it – U.S. Senator John Cornyn, State Sen. Dan Patrick, HD 24 Representative and State Senate nominee Larry Taylor, Chambers County leader Bill Wallace, Galveston Tea Party Chairman Larry Schumacher, and Galveston County Republican Party Chair Barbara Meeks have all endorsed Mr. Faircloth. Early voting starts Monday, October 22nd. Rush to the polls and take your district and your country back.
- Daily News questionnaire: Wayne Faircloth
- Daily News questionnaire: Craig Eiland
- Daily News candidate forum
- Website: Wayne Faircloth – VoteFaircloth.com
- Website: Craig Eiland – CraigEiland.com
- District Map