"We've got to be more efficient at our (school) administration level. Our current ratio of teacher to non teacher positions is one to one. I believe we need to be closer to 3 to 1. We need to make sure that 65 percent of funds, at minimum, a school district receives are spent in the classroom and that includes teacher salaries."
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We sent an email to the Rose campaign yesterday requesting an interview. As of now, we haven't heard back from Rose's people.
Q. Tell us about yourself, where you were born, your background.
I'm 38 (older by several years than Rose, and Rick Green before Rose, when they were first elected to the Legislature). I got my Social Security letter in the mail the other day (the letter that informs people how much SS tax they have invested in the retirement system). I looked at it and I saw that I started paying Social Security in 1987. I believe I was 14 or 15 years old and I have not missed my Social Security taxes a single year since that time. I've worked every year while in college and high school and have continued to do the same since then. I've been a taxpaying citizen since 1987, something that sets me apart from my competition.
I was b0rn in Houston and lived there until the age of 6. My family moved to Virginia with my dad's company (and graduated from high school there). I started looking my junior year to go to college in Texas. One day I got a letter in the mail (from Stephen F. Austin State University/Nacogdoches) that said "congratulations, you're a Lumberjack!" I had family in Beaumont and Athens and Dallas. That was in 1990 and I've been here ever since then. (Isaac and his wife Carrie met in college and were married two years after she graduated . . . Isaac received a business degree from the university with a major in marketing and minor in management). I finished paying off my student loan a few years ago; my wife paid her loan off in 12 years.
I started working in trucking and have been doing that for the last 15 years, marketing technology; it's a consultative business. We analyze trucking company operations to improve their operations, implement technology and they get a return for doing so.
Why did you decide to run for office, challenge Rose, and what are you hearing from voters as you are out campaigning?
They (the voters) want somebody that's not in it for themselves. That's what I keep hearing from people time and time again. I wasn't recruited by anybody to run. There were some in the Republican leadership that tried to talk me out of running. They were scared Patrick would raise a million dollars and hurt them down ballot. Some of those people are now some of our biggest supporters – no strings attached, I think a lot of the independents and Democrats realize that. I want to serve. (Isaac said he heard something another candidate once told voters that resonated with him) . . . when you're considering a candidate think about have they served before they decided to run for office and will they continue to serve (the community) once they are out of politics. I can say, yes, emphatically.
How have you served your community?
We've been in the area (Hays County/Dripping Springs) a little over five years. Something I've always been passionate about is working with kids and coaching. I've coached kids for about 15 years. I've coached basketball, soccer, but predominantly lacrosse, the oldest American sport first organized by the American Indians and now the fastest growing sport in the country. I started a small business about 12 years ago running some lacrosse leagues for men. I started a summer lacrosse league for men. We have nearly 500 people involved. I started running some leagues in Austin and took over a league of about 36 teams and this past year was up to 110 teams, including teams for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade. A significant amount of the funds go to a non-profit. My wife is on the board of the local pantry, Helping Hands Dripping Springs.
Why are you a Republican?
I'm a conservative first and running as a Republican. I believe in smaller government and lower taxes and those are the big reasons I'm running. I believe there are non-profits and churches that can do better with social services because their hearts are in it more and not the bureaucracy you find in the federal and state governments.
Any association or involvement with the Tea Party?
I've had a lot of Tea Party types contact me. I've had no involvement before running for state representative. I'll take any help that can come my way – people who want to donate, block walk . . . for the right reasons, like decreasing some of the burdens on the taxpayer.
What are your plans to reduce the tax burdens?
We've got to reduce the burden of property taxes. We'll never truly own our homes or property as long as there's a property tax, that is unacceptable. We've got to find another solution. I don't have the answer but I'm willing to work on it. I think our business tax structure is just too high. (The expanded state franchise tax?) That's one of the things I disagree with him (Gov. Perry) on. He and Rose put in place a new gross margin tax which is one of the worst things we could have done at the time. We need to quit looking for new streams of revenue and start doing more with less. (Assessment of the local economy?) It's below where it needs to be. I believe it could be much better. There are a lot of families that are hurting and I think we could certainly reduce the tax burden on home and business owners.
(Here's what Isaac says on his website: "A consumption-based model is one possible solution, and it would have to be a constitutional amendment approved by Texas voters. “But I like the consumption-based model…I like that possibility – and it would have to be a constitutional amendment that the voters across the state would have to approve, but step #1 let’s reduce the cap from 10%-3%…”)
You have made a pledge to never increase state taxes if you are elected. Would that include state "fees" which have increased session after session under Perry, from hunting licenses to the vehicle sales tax?
I couldn't agree more. Fees are just another way to tax. When they run out of taxes they can put on people, they start putting on fees. There has been a significant decline in the number of hunters. It's a dying sport in Texas. It's getting more and more expensive to go hunting. We have got to get back to a fiscal conservative government. It drives me crazy. We're creating a nanny state where we're taking care of everybody.
What about immigration issues and the state's projected big budget deficit?
I say there is a big incentive plan here in the State of Texas to come over here illegally. We provide social services without providing proof that they are here legally. You can come over here, work, get paid cash and then you can go down there and say I don't make enough money, I have no job and need food stamps. It's called the Lone Star Card in Texas. That's false. In looking at where to cut the budget next session, that's one of the first areas I'll be looking at.
Do you support toll roads?
I do not. I can't stand toll roads. We need to end the diversion of the fuel tax and I know there are fuel tax diversions going on. TxDOT has to be held accountable – when they misplace a billion dollars because their accounting isn't good. Rose has said he is opposed to tolling existing roads. But he's got an exception for the Y in Oak Hill. He says the only solution is involving tolling to fix the Y. I disagree one hundred percent.
A strong effort was made in the last session of the Legislature by a coalition of Hill Country counties to win more county authority and control over development in unincorporated areas. Will you support that ongoing effort and coalition?
Honestly I will have to look into that. I do agree we need responsible development. You just can't grow out of control because we don't have the water to sustain it. I don't want any huge apartment buildings in Dripping Springs, we'd run out of water. We need to plan to grow responsibly, make sure builders are putting in systems out there to prolong our water supply. I love rain water systems. I wish the return on investment was quicker, maybe we can take a look at potential requirements.
Managing our groundwater responsibly in western Hays County and the Hill Country also is a huge issue with folks. What's your position on strengthening the local groundwater district's authority and funding? Who did you support in the Backus/Key election in May for the District 3 seat on the HTGCD board?
I didn't openly support anyone for that race. I was just getting into my own race. What I did not support openly, along the same lines of what ACC is trying to do in some areas, is trying to create these taxing districts. I do agree we need to protect our groundwater and make sure it's there for future generations. I have a big concern about people coming in to buy water rights and sell the water. That's not right. I know that Rep. Rose takes a lot of money from people who own water rights. It concerns me a lot. What's next, are they going to start trading oxygen? I know that Chapter 36 was a big concern with the HTGCD, many were scared of Chapter 36 and there was a lot of support for Chapter 36. I wasn't surprised that it (Backus/Key election) came down to a two-vote margin. (We asked if he would support a small ad valorem tax to support the groundwater district.) I would not support any new additional taxes. (It was not totally clear if Isaac would support legislation to allow voters in the district to vote a property tax up or down.)
On education and public schools . . .
We've got to be more efficient at our (school) administration level. Our current ratio of teacher to non teacher positions is one to one. I believe we need to be closer to 3 to 1. We need to make sure that 65 percent of funds, at minimum, a school district receives are spent in the classroom and that includes teacher salaries. I heard today that the average salary for a non teacher is $10,000 higher than a teacher's salary. I can't quote the source but that's what I heard. (Isaac's two sons are enrolled at Rooster Springs Elementary School, kindergarten and 2nd grade, in the DSISD.)
On religion . . .
I grew up Methodist. My wife grew up Church of Christ. We compromised and go to a Church of Christ, Westover Hills, in Austin. Politics doesn't come up at church, that's one of the things we love about going to a church outside of the district.
What kind of reception are you receiving from Democrats in the District? Very good.
What about support from the local Republican Party organizations?
Absolutely solid. It was tough going at first because people thought Rep. Rose can't be beaten. Now that they know me, know my wife and two boys, we're running circles around Rose when it comes to campaigning. We are the hardest working campaign in the state right now. We have got tremendous support from those groups.
You attended a protest rally at the State Capitol during President Obama's recent visit to Texas. What was that all about?
I was invited to speak at a Hands Off Texas rally. They invited me to speak and I participated. I led the Pledge of Allegiance. I knew there would be some conservatives at that event and I need to reach everybody. I've got to reach conservatives, independents and I've got to reach Democrats and Libertarians.
You have received two very sizable contributions from two individuals, one from Robert Seale of Dripping Springs for $100,000. How are you explaining to voters such a huge contribution from one person?
I asked. It's a funny story, it really is, kind of comical the way it worked out. There have been two instances in this campaign that have really shocked people. Another one is when Tom Gleinser (Libertarian, ran in 2006, 08) and was on the ballot in '10 but withdrew and endorsed me. I got a bunch of phone calls asking what did you do, how did you get him off the ballot. They quickly realized it wasn't very exciting. It was pretty similar with Mr. Seale. I called him in January and said I don't know how you lean, I'm the conservative on the ballot. I know him as a successful businessman that lives in the district. I've known that for a couple of years because I coached his son in lacrosse. He hopped on board and said he would help me raise some money and said he would make a sizable contribution to the campaign. Apparently he's more well off than I thought. I was really looking for leadership and business acumen to help with the campaign and he wound up writing a big check.
How's the fundraising going?
I'd love someone writing me a check for a million dollars but I don't think that will happen. $300,000 would be good. We've just got to keep going with getting my name out. My name recognition was low until Rose started running his attack ads.
Texas is gaining more seats in Congress due to a significant population increase. Redrawing of the state's Congressional Districts will be a big issue next session. Any thoughts on that and whether you would be willing to have Hays County taken out of Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett's 25th District?
I just met someone today who has been a redistricting expert and said call me if you want to learn more about it. I don't have a lot of experience or input but I do know it will be important in the session. I think Doggett is good for Travis County. I believe he is representative of that county but seems he doesn't win any of the other counties he represents. Maybe Travis would be large enough to have just Travis (inside one district). I don't rush to judgment. I like to think things through and then just try to use common sense. I certainly don't like to promise things.