Montgomery County Commissioner, Precinct 3

Jay Mac Sanders
James Noack ✔✔

 

TPP endorses James Noack

 

Commissioner Noack has done a great job representing his constituents in a rough environment where his efforts have been opposed at almost every turn by the county establishment who resent that he defeated their chosen candidate for Precinct 3.  Mr. Sanders is the establishment’s choice to replace Commissioner Noack.  He has not made a credible case for the need to replace Commissioner Noack or that he would better represent Precinct 3 residents.  In addition, his campaign has largely been based on innuendo and deceit, unbecoming tactics for someone who wants to earn voter trust as their representative on commissioners’ court.

BACKGROUND

When the tea party movement began and we started looking at local politics, it didn’t take long to figure out that Montgomery County had a “good ol’ boy” problem. Decades ago the political establishment in Montgomery County, mindful of the political winds sweeping the state, changed parties from Democrat to Republican but their style of governing remained the same. Until 2012, the county establishment went largely unchallenged at the ballot box. Every time one of them was set to retire, the establishment would hand pick an heir to the throne. This is what was supposed to happen in 2012, when retiring Commissioner Ed Chance chose Kenny Speight to replace him on Commissioners Court. 

Up to that point, James Noack was an average resident of The Woodlands.  He worked in the financial industry and who was concerned about the increased traffic that would come from a street being opened up by his children’s school. When he approached then Commissioner Ed Chance about the matter, Commissioner Chance told him to talk to Kenny Speight, as Kenny Speight was going to be the next commissioner. When Mr. Noack approached Kenny Speight about the matter, Mr. Noack says he was taken aback by how unqualified and disinterested Mr. Speight appeared to be. At one point in the conversation, Mr. Noack recalls Mr. Speight even being under the impression that Mr. Noack’s house was not in Precinct 3, even though it clearly was. Upon concluding that the only qualification Mr. Speight had for becoming the next commissioner was that he was a part of the political elite, Mr. Noack resolved to run for commissioner himself to offer his community an option to the complacent ineffectual representation they had been receiving from those who had been in office.

James Noack overwhelmingly defeated Mr. Speight at the ballot box in 2012 because of his vigorous campaign and positive message about changing county politics. But those in the county’s political establishment were infuriated by Commissioner Noack’s challenge to their power structure.  They have sought to undermine, deter and marginalize him at every opportunity.  To his credit, Mr. Noack has withstood this adverse environment, representing Precinct 3 well and also bringing positive changes to the county.

 

JAMES NOACK

Commissioner Noack’s campaign slogan is “promises made, promises kept,” and we couldn’t agree more. During Commissioner Noack’s first term in office, he has proven himself to be the only commissioner on the court actively pursuing reform and fiscal responsibility. Inexplicably, MontgomeryCounty has never developed a long-term strategic mobility plan, thereby making the county ineligible for federal funding for county mobility projects but, coincidently, keeping the mobility projects that are done under county control. Commissioner Noack recognized that:  1) mobility in Precinct 3 had been disregarded by his predecessors to the point that it was in crisis in several areas; 2) mobility needs had to be prioritized to best address this crisis; and 3) all possible funding sources needed to be made available if the precinct was to have a chance to get control over this crisis.  Accordingly, he commissioned a South Montgomery County Mobility Study in conjunction with the Houston Galveston Area Council (the gateway to federal highway funding) as his first step.  As a consequence, Precinct 3 is the only precinct in the county with a long-term mobility plan that not only prioritizes needs but also enables the precinct to compete for federal funding. 

Commissioner Noack has also been the strongest (and many times lone) advocate on Commissioners Court for a county-wide mobility plan.

But Commissioner Noack did not just look to others to solve Precinct 3’s mobility issues and he found creative ways to ease traffic with the little money he had available. Examples of some of the steps he has taken include eliminating the red light traffic cameras (which raised revenue for the county at the cost of increased accident risk at intersections), introducing the flashing yellow left turn arrow at intersections to improve traffic flow during light traffic periods, better synchronizing the traffic lights, and improving 37 intersections by widening and/or extending turn lanes. While these projects are a work in progress, voters throughout the precinct have already experienced the benefit from Commissioner Noack’s resourceful use of limited funds to improve mobility.

Commissioner Noack has spent the last three years diligently trying to improve the management of the county.  He often has been the lone voice on the court advocating for improvements that will make the county more efficient and responsive.  He has strongly promoted common sense changes like the establishment of a capital improvement fund (finally achieved in 2015), improved funding of the county’s retirement plan and the first reduction in the county’s property tax rate in memory (achieved in 2013).  Not yet accomplished are his continued efforts to improve the county’s budgeting process by employing a budget director, instituting a 5 year budget plan to better anticipate future requirements, and adopting a budgeting process designed to actually cut spending. 

Commissioner Noack has shown through his many times as the sole “nay” vote on various issues that his priority is the interests of the residents of precinct 3 and the county, even if it is unpopular with his fellow commissioners or upsets the county’s establishment. One of the most well-known examples of Commissioner Noack’s standing on principle and not buckling to the wishes of the establishment is the position he took on The Woodlands Parkway extension project which was included in the May 2015 bond proposal. Commissioner Noack supported the bond because it would provide funding for some crisis mobility problems in precinct 3 (especially Rayford Road), but he fought to have The Woodlands Parkway extension project removed from the bond, warning the court that its inclusion would defeat the bond.  Ultimately Commissioners Court refused to remove the extension from the bond and, as Commissioner Noack had predicted, the bond was defeated due to overwhelming opposition from Precinct 3 voters.   Gordy Bunch, who is a director on The Woodlands Township and led the community’s opposition effort to the May bond, said of Commissioner Noack:

“James Noack is the only elected official advocating for The Woodlands on Commissioners Court.  I could not have fought against the Woodlands Parkway Extension on behalf of the taxpayers without his help. Commissioner Noack’s leadership guiding the South County Mobility Plan helped identify, prioritize and map out the near term and long term needs for our area. These needs are highlighted by $1 billion dollars in projects more important than The Woodlands Parkway Extension. The Woodlands Parkway Extension is crony government and developer driven. It is not the result of serving the best interests of the citizens of Montgomery County. Commissioner Noack recognizes that and fights for the taxpayer every day.”

We have seen significant growth in Commissioner Noack’s statesmanship in challenging circumstances and his overall performance under most trying circumstances has been excellent.  Precinct 3 voters would be wise to overwhelmingly reelect James Noack as their commissioner.

 

JAY MAC SANDERS

Jay Mac Sanders declined to participate in our vetting process this election cycle.  However, Mr. Sanders participated in our vetting process when he ran unsuccessfully for The Woodlands Township board in 2012, so we have some information about him.

Mr. Sanders is the owner/broker of a real estate company, Mustard Seed Realtors, and a board member of the Panther Creek Village Association. Prior to this, he worked as a legislative aid to moderate Republican U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski of Alaska.

Texas Patriots PAC’s vetting process seeks to identify individuals who will fight for their principles and for their constituents’ interests.  Relevant to this question for Mr. Sanders is the position he articulated on the future of The Woodlands Parkway extension.  When asked about the extension project, Mr. Sanders responded by saying that it will be built and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. He then dismissed the outrage Woodlands residents have about this project as "an opinion, as there are many other opinions." Do residents of The Woodlands really want to elect to represent them a man who shows this sort of resignation on an issue that over 90% of the residents have opposed?

 

Why is Mr. Sanders running? 

In the announcement of Mr. Sanders’ candidacy against Commissioner Noack that appeared in The Courier last October (See the article), Mr. Sanders said one of his main reasons for running is to “restore relationships with other community leaders,” and that “Precinct 3 needs a commissioner that is respected by fellow commissioners.” Referring to Mr. Noack’s refusal to go along with the rest of the commissioners when it isn’t in the best interest of the residents of Precinct 3, Mr. Sanders said: “it’s not okay to be disagreeable.” Statements like these made it very clear that Mr. Sanders is running as the candidate of the county establishment, who want a “rubber stamp” commissioner from our precinct.

 

Who supports Mr. Sanders? 

The Political Establishment.  It’s not just Mr. Sanders’ statements that connect him to the county’s establishment; it’s also the people supporting his candidacy.  For example, the following photo, taken at what appears to be a Sanders fundraiser, was posted to Mr. Sanders’ Facebook page.  It shows Mr. Sanders with County Judge Craig Doyal, Commissioner Mike Meador, former Commissioner Ed Chance (with Kenny Speight in the background). We suspect that this picture is of the core political establishment support for Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Sanders was outspoken in his support for Bruce Tough for The Woodlands Township Board.  Mr. Tough, who is part of the county’s establishment, was defeated in his November bid for reelection by Laura Fillault largely due to his support for The Woodlands Parkway extension – a project that about 90% of The Woodlands’ voters disapprove of.

The Developers.  Mr. Sanders also has the support of the developers who view Commissioner Noack as a threat to the cozy relationship they have with the political establishment.  The following photo is of a large sign supporting Mr. Sanders that has been erected on the property of Tim Weems, the developer of the property that would have gained the most from The Woodland Parkway expansion.

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The Fake Tea Party.  Mr. Sanders is endorsed by the “Texas Conservative Tea Party Coalition”, widely known as the “fake tea party.” This organization is a ruse formed by the County’s establishment during the runoff election in 2014 after the tea party endorsed candidates (Mark Bosma, running for County Judge; Rob Harmon, running for Commissioner, Precinct 2; and Ted Seago, running for House District 16) gained more votes in the primary than their establishment opponents. Using this fake tea party, the establishment poured thousands of dollars into the runoff, printing deceptive voter guides and hiring pretty young college students posing as Tea Party volunteers to pass them out at the polls.  In part due to this deception, the establishment was successful in getting Craig Doyal elected as County Judge, Charlie Riley elected as Commissioner for Precinct 2, and Will Metcalf elected as State Representative for HD-16.

Since that first election, this supposed “tea party” regularly endorses the county establishment’s candidates and their causes. For example, in 2015 the fake tea party supported the May Road Bond and the reelection of Bruce Tough.  This year, they are endorsing Congressman Kevin Brady for reelection- an endorsement which none of the real tea parties in the county agree with.

The fake tea party and The Woodlands Parkway Extension

During the May 2015 road bond, which we opposed due to the large amount of pork projects and the inclusion of The Woodlands Parkway extension, the county establishment used the fake tea party to send mailers endorsing the extension project and echoing the county’s talking points. The following is one side of the mailer the fake tea party send at the time.  Notice how it says “We support the proposed Woodlands Parkway Extension.”

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The fake tea party also went out of its way to try to drive a wedge between the rest of the county and the Woodlands, accusing The Woodlands residents who saw the parkway extension as a threat to their quality of life as isolationist in the mailer below. This encouraged divisiveness is shameful from any group that expects voters to take their voter guide and endorsements seriously.  This organization slapped the term “tea party” in the name but their only mission is to support the county’s political establishment through deception.  And this isolationist pitch was not only convenient to the establishment at that time as a means to incentivizes the rest of the county to vote, but it also played to the establishment’s view that The Woodlands should be the county’s complacent piggy bank.

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The fake tea party has no integrity, being willing to take any side of an issue whenever they see it convenient.  In the following Facebook posting, readers are lead to believe that the fake tea party opposed the parkway extension by calling it “unpopular and costly” in order to suggest that Commissioner Noack’s claimed opposition to it is a lie.  (Please note Gordy Bunch’s quote on this matter above.)  This is a terrific example of the county establishment using the fake tea party to deploy a typical Democrat maneuver in an attempt to assassinate an opponent’s character. 

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Mr. Sanders has shown disappointing values by endorsing the fake tea party’s deceptive claim about Commissioner Noack’s support of the Parkway extension by sharing the TCTPC post three times on his Facebook page. 

Other lies that the fake tea party is telling about Mr. Noack include a robo-call to voters in Precinct 3 making the claim that lawsuits filed against Mr. Noack have cost the county millions of dollars. In fact, there have been zero lawsuits filed against Mr. Noack according to the county attorney’s office.

 

Other fake organization endorsements  

Mr. Sanders has proudly proclaimed that he has been endorsed by an organization called “Texans for Pro-Life.” If the terribly conceived name of this organization makes you suspicious, you should trust your instincts. (Nouns cannot be “for” an adjective by itself, as adjectives modify nouns. It would have made sense if they said “Texans for pro-life legislation,” or just “Pro-life Texans,” but instead came up with something that would be the equivalent of saying “Texans for big” or “Texans for pretty.”)  On the website of this organization, they very visibly tout that they are “pay to play,” and will give out their endorsement in exchange for money. On their website, amidst sample graphics using stock photos saying “Texans for Pro-Life proudly endorses John Doe,” the organization pitches its ability to advertise through Facebook, phone banking, and mailers and says “for as little as $250 - $750 you can help us reach thousands of Republican voters for your pro-life candidate today!” A list of current endorsements on their website includes State Representatives JD Sheffield and Sarah Davis, who are actually known to be pro-abortion Republicans, as well Byron Cook, who is known to be hostile to the pro-life movement. Interestingly enough, they only list 7 endorsements for positions not at the state level, 5 of which are concentrated in Montgomery County. 

After a little research, we have found that the organization is run by two radio DJ’s in Austin, one of whom regularly supports and donates to Democrats and has never given to a Republican, with the other being a personal injury lawyer. Members of the personal injury bar tend to be supporters of Democrats.

The organization was founded by a firm called Digital Game Changers. On January 7, Jay Mac Sanders gave $500 to Digital Game Changers. On January 20, David Lieb, the co-founder of Digital Game Changers, created Texans for Pro-Life and serves as its treasurer.

The fact that Mr. Sanders is willing to tout this group’s endorsement is disturbing, especially when he openly calls on his supporters to go to the organization’s website to see how they can help his campaign. This is another concerning example of Mr. Sanders’ values and the deception has resorted to.

Another endorsement from a fake organization Mr. Sanders has been touting is an organization called Texans for Traditional Marriage. If you’re involved in the pro-life movement, then like us, you have never heard of this organization. No surprise here, but the address for Texans for Traditional Marriage is the same Austin address as the fake tea party, with the same Treasurer, Todd Smith, who happens to be one of the highest paid lobbyists in the state. Todd Smith currently has $23,000 in Texas Ethics Commission fines for five different PACs for which he is the treasurer: $20,000 for Texans for Traditional Marriage, $500 for Texas Conservative Tea Party Coalition (fake tea party), $500 for Harris County Conservative Tea Party Coalition, $500 for the Lone Star Patriot PAC, and $1500 for Peace Officers for Perry.

These two examples of Mr. Sanders exploiting conservative values to give himself fake endorsements to fool the voters is very disturbing coming from a man who claims to support these values. 

Additional concerns

 

A few of the questions on the Texas Patriots PAC vetting form address controversial issues such as the candidate’s views on abortion, gay marriage, gun rights, and immigration. These questions are included and asked of every candidate (except judicial candidates), regardless of the position for which they are running, for several reasons including gauging the honesty of the candidate. Candidates sometimes hide behind the idea that the position they seek would not get the opportunity to address these issues. When Mr. Sanders filled out our vetting form for his 2012 bid for the Township board, Mr. Sanders answered every question about immigration with the following statement: “this question is not applicable to this election.” He made a similar statement answering our question about his views on marriage, though qualified that he supports current Texas law. He did answer frankly the questions about abortion and the gun rights.  This leads us to question, if Mr. Sanders did not answer the questions about illegal immigration because the position he was seeking could not address the issue, why then did he answer the questions regarding abortion and gun rights, which equally would fall into the category of issues the Township could not address? It may well be that Mr. Sanders did not answer the questions about illegal immigration because he thought we would not like his answers.  We believe that a candidate’s position on these issues is important information for our vetting process as we chose our best candidate based on alignment with our values.  Mr. Sanders has not demonstrated this alignment.

 

Summary

Mr. Sanders presents as a nice man in person, but his actions and those of his supporters during this campaign have little integrity.  He has not made an effective case to replace James Noack, who has taken strong principled positions and effective action on behalf of his constituents.  Mr. Sanders’ behavior during this election has been very worrisome from the start, when he proclaimed at the fake tea party’s “debate” that he wouldn’t trust James Noack “to pick up his kids in carline.” Mr. Sanders’ campaign has been built on multiple attempts to smear James Noack’s character with false claims.  We consider Mr. Sanders’ behavior disgraceful.  James Noack has shown that he governs responsibly and is willing to stand up for the interests of his constituents, and the Texas Patriots PAC proudly endorses him for reelection.