Fallon announced this fall that he will be challenging incumbent Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, for State Senate District 30.
Elections for the Texas House of Representative will take place in 2018. Primary elections take place on March 6 and the primary runoff election is on May 22. The general election is on Nov. 6.
The candidate filing deadline is Dec. 11.
Community Impact Newspaper asked Rhea a series of questions. His responses, edited for publication style, are below.
- Why did you decide to run for this office?
“Why on earth would you do this to yourself?” is often the first thing asked when discussing my decision to run for the Texas State House of Representatives in District 106. It is a great question that deserves a clear answer.
Texas is on the front lines at a pivotal time in American history. We must decide where we are heading as a state and country.
Will we embrace divisive rhetoric, view our neighbors as “the other” if they are not exactly like us, turn a blind eye to our most vulnerable and do nothing to stop the unhealthy rage being stoked for purely political purposes? Will we all sit by while the political machines push a system requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars to run for a seat representing our neighbors at the Capital?
I have faith that the good people of Texas District 106 stand resoundingly against that culture.
Let’s instead accept how much in common we have with all our fellow Texans. Let’s prioritize our kids’ educations over corporate tax cuts. Let’s reject the “language of fear” and put effort into meeting face-to-face with people the most jaded call "the enemy." Let’s be good neighbors. Let’s break these political machines.
History is not going to be kind to the current American chapter. At some point down the road, we are going to have to answer to our children and grandchildren. “We sat on the sidelines and watched” is not going to be an acceptable reply.
Facts, data, research, education, history, and empathy have a place in Texas politics. Policies built around models that have proven effective in other places should be considered. If any district in Texas should be sending that kind of representation to Austin, it is ours.
I’m running to give us that chance and I’m asking anyone living in District 106, regardless of political party or previous voting habits, to look hard at where we are headed as a state and country. If you, like me, do not like what you see, please join us in taking power from the few and placing it back in the hands of the many.
All that is required is an army of regular folks working with their neighbors to change what we expect from our representatives. Our goal is an interactive campaign where everyone’s voice is heard.
2. What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
As a director at AT&T, my focus was on commercial real estate, leading teams and setting the foundation for change in multiple regions. I worked with teams of several hundred people, and have seen first-hand what can be accomplished when folks come together and work towards a common goal.
For the past three years, my wife Yvette and I have operated ModernElan, LLC a real estate investment business.
We have four teenage kids still at home in Frisco, with a freshman at Stephen F. Austin State University.
3. If elected, what would be your top priorities?
Follow the Texas Supreme Court’s 2016 admonition and overhaul our archaic public education funding system. Local communities have been saddled with the lion’s share of funding for our kids’ educations while the State continues to cut back its contribution as a budget reporting trick. A 50/50 split on public school funding between the state and local communities is reasonable and realistic.
It’s not difficult to find someone in District 106 who will tell you everything they do not like about the Affordable Care Act. What most people do not understand is that Texas has made everything that could be bad so much worse by not expanding Medicaid. The ACA was designed to offset the very expenses causing pain by expanding the number of people covered by Medicaid. The idea was to remove the high-risk component from the insurance pools and extend coverage to low-income families. By covering those groups via Medicaid, costs for everyone else would better be kept under control. Over 10 years, Texans will send $36 billion in Medicaid payroll taxes to other states—by far the highest of any state. That’s over $3 billion per year coming out of Texans’ paychecks, going to Washington D.C. then being sent to other states. Every year, Texas hospitals absorb $5.5 billion in unpaid bills from uninsured Texans, then pass those losses onto paying patients, resulting in raised costs and higher insurance premiums. Over 10 years, Republicans in Austin will turn away $100 billion in federal Medicaid dollars. That’s not “fiscally conservative”; that’s financially irresponsible.
I will energetically oppose any legislation that in any way discriminates against a fellow Texan. Too much time is wasted while politicians attempt to pit neighbor against neighbor using a divisive “language of fear.” Our fellow Texans are overwhelmingly good people. They work hard, love their families, pay their taxes, and make our communities stronger. They deserve our respect, protection, and friendship. Diversity strengthens us as a state.
Oppose the continuing efforts of the state government to impose its will on local communities. Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney’s approach to mixing livable green space with commercial expansion is a great example of private and public sectors working together locally. Allowing corporate lobbyists to work around the will of local communities by pushing state-level restrictions on how growth is implemented is not in our best interests.
4. What else do you want constituents to know about you and your background?
I’ve followed politics my entire adult life. And for the most part, I’ve supported a more conservative approach to fiscal issues and a more open-minded position on social ones. The foundation of my platform is to invest the taxpayers money where we get the best returns and stop being mean to people who might be different than you.
[In 2016, things changed.] We’ve reached a place where we need to choose under what banners we are comfortable standing. Here is what I know:
- There are no “very fine people” marching at a white supremacist rally.
- There is no place in government for men credibly accused of child predation.
- Ostracizing a group of people because you are uncomfortable with their uniqueness is not American.
- Proposing legislation making it OK to hit a protestor with your car is inhumane.
- Imploring “fear of the other” as an electoral strategy makes us all less human.
- Finding there is a need to convince people that every child deserves the same high-level public education regardless of how much money their parents have is disheartening.
We’ve reached an unhealthy place as a state and country. There are reasonable Republicans, passionate Progressives, traditional Democrats and a world of detached young people who know it.
I’m asking them to all work together to put things right.
For more information, visit www.rheafortexans.com