“In politics, mudslinging is what the opponent says about our candidate, but, when our candidate does the same thing it’s called, making a good point.” – Anonymous.
That about sums up how Phyllis Wolper, Chair of the Denton County Democrat Party, feels about the hyper-sensitivity that exists between the major political parties. When Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden recently commented on a local blog about the influx of Democrats into the state, he was assailed by Democrats in the area. “We need to be on guard,” the mayor wrote, “because I can feel the shift happening right under our noses.” During my interview with Ms. Wolper she said, although she had heard about the Mayor’s comments, it didn’t offend her because Mr. Hayden was merely offering an opinion. “Both sides do it,” she said, adding, “I’ve been there and done that.”
Ms. Wolper, who grew up in Fort Worth, and has lived in Arlington, Irving and Dallas before moving to Denton 14 years ago, has been a realtor with Century 21, Judge Fite Company for 11 years. She was politically active in college, starting with Tarrant County Community College and then Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. “I had this incredible professor at TCU, and one of his goals was to teach government by participation. You’d get extra credit if you voted, attended caucuses, and got involved in the process,” she said. Wolper said she and her husband moved around the country for a while, where she spent some time as a political activist in Louisiana. “I had a career doing investor relations with publically traded companies. I was with a company in New Orleans, called Tidewater. It was very active in local as well as national politics. That got me involved in Louisiana politics as part of my job.”
When she and her husband moved to Denton, she went looking for the local Democrat party office and became active there. “I just started doing things like any volunteer does and came up with some new ideas, and started moving up the ladder. Then I was recruited to run for Chair, was elected, and have been the Chair for 5 years.”
We spoke about the Democrat Party principles. “Basically, our thrust is voter rights, public education, border control and other common sense issues. We should have the best education we can afford. We don’t necessarily believe in bigger government, but we do believe in more control of those governmental agencies that affect our daily lives. I feel that whatever the government is in charge of, they should run it more efficiently, which doesn’t mean make it larger. Incidentally, during the last 30 years, Republican administrations have run up bigger debt than Democratic administrations,” she said firmly.
When asked about Common Core education initiatives she said she didn’t want to comment on specifics. “I know the basics of it but, I’m not comfortable enough to comment on aspects of it. I think it is deliberately vague and needs more clarification before anyone can make a judgment on it.” On the subject of tenure for educators, Ms. Wolper said it isn’t very widespread in Texas. “Yes, there are tenured teachers and professors, but we have crafted a system in which part time techs are doing a lot of the teaching. We should be hiring the best teachers that are capable of turning out the best educated students. People committed to keeping their jobs should be invested in doing a good job.” On the subject of taxes she said, “Nobody wants to pay more taxes, but, when people discuss taxes they think of federal taxes. They may not pay attention to the heavy taxation in their own backyards.
“For instance, everyone has gotten a tax bill for their property assessments, and I can tell you that all of my friends and family have called me and said, “Oh my God, the evaluations on my property have skyrocketed. They ask what’s happening out there.” The astonishment by Ms. Wolper and her friends underscores the point that Denton County is dominated by the Republican Party, which is supposed to be against higher taxes, hence, what’s going on? As for illegal immigration, she says border control is the answer. Of course, that’s been said so often by both parties that it’s become an impotent sound bite, since no one seems to know how to accomplish it. She’s a proponent of the “Dream Act,” portions of which President Obama has promulgated by virtue of Executive Order, thereby circumventing the Congress.
As for the abortion issue, the top county Democrat likes to refer to it as “the women’s rights issue.” Although supporting a woman’s right to choose, she doesn’t believe in late-term abortion. Gay marriage is also part of the Democrat agenda and Ms. Wolper is certainly an advocate of it. “Gays want to feel secure in their commitments to their partners, much like any two people who love each other,” she said. “We often hear that gay marriage will adversely affect traditional marriage. Well, my husband and I have been married for 35 years and we don’t feel that our union is jeopardized by gays getting married,” she smiled.
Wolper believes that Senator Wendy Davis has the best chance of becoming Governor since the days of Ann Richards. “The Texas Democrat Party has completely reorganized and restructured under new leadership,” she said. “There will be a lot of activity for Wendy and other Democrat candidates. We already have significant funding and there will be a lot more from within and from outside the state.”
My wife Annette and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent with Phyllis. We could disagree on many issues without displaying a scintilla of hostility or rancor among us. One would think that democracy is best served when people are respectful of the views of others. Sadly, some are willing to attack those who simply wish to exercise the very freedoms upon which our country was founded. As people, Democrats are not very different from Republicans, except for their opinions on how to achieve the best standards of excellence for our country. Let’s be thankful for those opinions; without them we’d be living under some virulent form of tyranny. For more info: www.dentondemocrats.org.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.