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  • Writer's pictureNorth Shore Democrats of Travis County

Elect Wang, Hanna, and Lavine to the Travis County Appraisal District Board of Directors

The North Shore Democrats of Travis County have enthusiastically endorsed three candidates for the Travis County Appraisal District (TCAD) Board of Directors —Jett Hanna, Dick Lavine and Daniel Wang.

The TCAD election will be the only item on the May 4 ballot for the North Shore. 

The TCAD election is nonpartisan, so there will be no party labels on the ballot. Please remember the mnemonic We Have Love, for Wang, Hanna, Lavine.

In addition to Wang, Hanna, and Lavine, there are three Republicans and one LIbertarian on the ballot. Details about candidates are shown below.

“The winners of this election could have an outsize influence on county funding for schools, parks, and other amenities,” observed NSD President Mike Killalea. “Republicans have a long-term plan to starve schools and public amenities, and this follows in lockstep.”

Low-turnout election

Election Day is May 4. If you’re registered to vote a month prior to the May 4 election day, early voting is available from April 22nd to April 30th. The last day to apply for ballot-by-mail is April 23rd.

Early voting will be available at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Lago Vista or at any other Travis County early-voting location. On Election Day, voters can choose among Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, LV High School, or the Jonestown Community Center.

This low-turnout election is expected to draw only 3%-5% of the electorate, making it especially critical to participate. In our area, this amounts to about 500-800 voters.

The issue and its importance

Actions of the county appraisal board impact our public schools, parks, libraries, and property values.

Republicans are trying to seize control of what had been a nonpartisan board. The result will be a politicized TCAD Board.

The right-wing agenda will:

— Threaten fair valuations for low-income taxpayers

— Create chaos for local governments

— Jeopardize funding for public services from public safety to public schools

The provision to elect three members to the previously nonpartisan, appointed board was buried within the successful November proposition approving larger homestead exemptions. This new provision will affect the top 20 counties in Texas. 

The BOD has always consisted of members APPOINTED by taxing entities (read: cities and schools). The BOD’s job is to ensure that the appraisal process is fair. It also appoints members to the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). The ARB in turn hears and rules on citizen protests of appraisal values.

Dangers of politicizing appraisal district BODs

Politicizing the BOD has serious ramifications. First, any two of these three newly elected BOD Members can block an appointment to the ARB, leaving them free to contaminate the review process with political cronies whose ONLY objective is to lower taxes.

Lower taxes might sound great, but scarce funding starves public schools. What are Republicans always in favor of? Lower taxes. What are Republicans NOT in favor of? Public Schools! Public schools will end up taking the hit in recapture payments.*

In the long run public school funding will be slowly starved to death. This will be the GOP’s rationale to give taxpayer dollars to private schools — charter schools, as well as unregulated private religious and secular schools.

In addition to the dreadful impact on our public schools, it could well impact our parks, libraries, and property values.

Meet the candidates

Against this tidal wave of reactionary nonentities are three standout candidates, that we seek approval to endorse. 

As mentioned above, they are: Jett Hanna, Dick Lavine and Daniel Wang. All work tirelessly for their community; they are smart, experienced and are highly principled and ethical citizens.

Candidates for Place 1

Jett Hanna is a native Texan who came to Austin in 1980 for law school. He is a retired attorney who was board certified in commercial real estate law and served on the Appraisal Board from 1988 to 1990. As a Senior Vice President, Jett helped his customer-owned insurance company improve from a C- to an A Best Rating. He is currently a member of the Texas Supreme Court Professional Ethics Committee. Among his volunteer activities are volunteering with the Del Valle Correctional Facility chaplain's office to facilitate meditation and helping with local hospital emergency communications as an amateur radio operator. He is married with two children and a lifelong Democrat. He will work for fair appraisals, accountable leadership, courteous customer service, and a qualified appraisal review board. 

Opponent: Don Zimmerman, Republican: former member of the Austin city council, and a failed candidate in his subsequent political career. Interestingly for a candidate for the TCAD, Zimmerman is a founder of the Travis County Taxpayers Union, an organization that opposes local tax increases, and served as the treasurer of its political action committee. He is well known as a pro-life, anti-LGBTQ loudmouth. While on the Austin council, he ignited a social media firestorm over his comments on gay marriage and sued the city over its campaign finance rules, among other startling initiatives.

Candidates for Place 2

Shenghao "Daniel" Wang grew up in Austin, and attended Harvard law school. Upon graduation, he returned home where he now practices electricity regulation and focuses on building a more sustainable, resilient grid. He is a community organizer who serves on the boards for his local alumni clubs, volunteers for voter registration and protection efforts, and co-leads the Austin Asian Professional Network. He is a Democrat. He is running to ensure that we can fund schools, roads, firefighters, and other public services fairly and efficiently.

Donation Link: https//

Opponent 1: Matt Mackowiak, Travis County Republican Chair

Opponent 2: Jonathan Patschke, Treasurer, Travis County Libertarian Party

Candidates for Place 3

Place 3: Dick Lavine: A Harvard educated lawyer and chartered financial analyst, Dick has spent a lifetime serving the public interest. He spent ten years at the research arm of the Texas Legislature and almost thirty more with Every Texan, a nonprofit working to strengthen public policy to expand opportunity and equity for Texans of all backgrounds. His work to improve Texas' state/local tax system is highly respected throughout the Texas Capitol. He is a trustee of the City of Austin Employees Retirement System and proud board member of a union of retired state workers. He is a Democrat. Dick is running to ensure fair and accurate property tax appraisals, to strengthen taxpayer protections, to guarantee efficient use of taxpayer dollars, and to preserve the integrity of the appraisal district from inappropriate political interference.

Opponent: Bill May, Republican; We could find nothing about him online


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