Image: Some of the citizens who led the Children’s Hope PAC and the grassroots campaign against the Conroe Independent School District’s $807 million bond, from left to right, Angie Smith, Ginger Russell, Greg Cook, Montgomery County Tea Party President Pat Tibbs also known as “The Voice of Grassroots Conservatives,” Conroe ISD Trustee Dale Inman, Director of Strategy and Operations Kelli Cook (sitting), Montgomery County Tea Party Vetting Chairman John Hill Wertz, Bob Bagley (sitting), Amber Shippam, PAC Treasurer April “Princess April” Andreski, and Jon Paul Bouche.
Conroe, May 5 – Montgomery County’s citizens turned out to the voting polls in Early Voting and on the May 4, 2019, Election Day to defeat Conroe Independent School District’s $807 million bond. Passage of the bond would have resulted in the largest tax hike in Montgomery County history.
Early Voting results were immensely close. Out of 8,676 votes cast during the eight days of Early Voting, 4,415 were against passage of the bond while 4,261 were for the bond, 50.89% to 49.11%. On Election Day, however, taxpayers and the grassroots campaigners surged with 59.2% of the vote, 3,882 votes against, to 2,672 votes for the bond. The Election Day results were a landslide margin. The final tally was 6,933 votes for the bond, 8,297 against the bond, 45.52% for and 54.48% against the bond.
The defeat of CISD’s bond package was the first time in history CISD had lost a bond referendum. John Hill Wertz, Montgomery County Tea Party Vetting Committee Chairman and Treasurer of the Montgomery County Republican Party, commented, “This election was historic. The people who worked on this campaign had no financial interest other than as taxpayers fighting for all taxpayers in our community.”
“This election was historic. The people who worked on this campaign had no financial interest other than as taxpayers fighting for all taxpayers in our community.” – – Montgomery County Republican Party Treasurer John Hill Wertz.
Children’s Hope PAC issued a formal statement after the final results appeared:
“This victory is a great win for all taxpayers in Montgomery County both within Conroe ISD and in the rest of our community. Curtis Null, the CISD Superintendent, who led the pro-bond advocacy, campaigned fiercely for the bond. We wish him the best. So did Wally Wilkerson, the GOP Chairman, who opposed the official position of the entire Montgomery County Republican Party, which unanimously opposed the bond in a vote of the Party’s County Executive Committee. Wilkerson was a lone Republican official fighting against his own political party. We hope Wilkerson finds a home for his ideology.”
Kelli Cook, Director of Strategy and Operations for the Children’s Hope PAC, which ran a citizens grassroots campaign to oppose passage of the $807 million bond, said, “Tonight’s election results are a great win for the taxpayers and for the hundreds of grassroots activists who worked on the campaign. We were staring down the barrel of the largest tax hike in the history of Montgomery County. We didn’t flinch. Congratulations to all of the great people who worked on the campaign against the bond and to the heroic voters who voted against this frightening debt and tax proposal.”
Conroe Independent School District, its behemoth vendors, and the political establishment threw vast resources in the campaign in favor of the bond. CISD Superintendent Curtis Null gave more than forty-five (45) speeches to advocate for the bond. The school district sent a mailer, using public tax dollars, to every home in CISD. The mailer gave the arguments for the bond.
During the concluding days of the campaign, CISD sent e-blasts from its schools to parents utilizing parent email addresses provided to the school district for educational purposes. At several faculty meetings, CISD administrators and school principals urged teachers to vote “for” the bond and informed them that CISD would have the ability to determine how they voted in their secret ballots in the election.
Approximately 95% of the funds CISD’s hand-chosen political action committee spent came from CISD vendors outside of Montgomery County. Other than approximately $1,000, CISD’s political action committee relied on contributions from corporations or the chief executives of corporations which are CISD vendors.
Children’s Hope PAC relied entirely upon individual contributions from citizens.
Null issued a written statement: “Conroe ISD will continue to meet the educational needs of our great community. We are confident that with our board’s leadership we will make the needed adjustments to ensure a successful future for our District.”
A major issue which developed during the election was CISD’s control of the election of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Central Appraisal District, which has aggressively acted to raise property tax appraisals throughout Montgomery County primarily at CISD’s behest. Internal documents from CISD revealed CISD’s aggressive push for higher property tax appraisals which would result from passage of the bond and result in a massive increase in property taxes both within and outside of CISD.
Three organizations joined with grassroots citizens to campaign against the bond: Montgomery County Republican Party, Montgomery County Tea Party, and Texas Patriots PAC. Many citizens worked with those groups and with the main grassroots group to defeat the monster.
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!