EDITOR’S NOTE: With the announcement of State Rep. Jim Pitt’s retirement, a new legislator will be representing Ellis County next year in Austin. This is the fourth and final story in a series profiling the candidates seeking the District 10 seat and how they plan to fill the shoes of an iconic Texas lawmaker.
Passionate and committed to his beliefs, for T.J. Fabby, politics is personal.
He is genuine and sincere when he says it’s not about recognition or personal gain.
“It’s about liberty and it’s about freedom and it’s about standing up for what’s right,” the Ellis County native said when explaining why he’s running for public office.
A self-described country boy, Fabby talks about growing up in Ferris and Red Oak and his involvement in rodeo and FFA, using his words to paint a picture of the freedoms and inalienable rights our nation’s founders promised in the Bill of Rights and Constitution.
As a business owner, Fabby said he is well aware of what’s going in the country and has watched those freedoms and liberties become stripped away while at the same time the taxpayers are saddled with the debt from an ever-growing government.
One of the initial members of the Ellis County Tea Party movement, Fabby said for years he has worked on a grassroots level to encourage our elected officials to stand against higher taxes, growing government and the constant stream of legislation that is chipping away at our liberties and freedoms.
Before the question can be asked, Fabby smiles and points out there is nothing radical about the request.
“The bottom line is, we were seeking three things: Less government; transparent taxation; and more freedom. That’s it. How can any American find anything radical about that?” he asks rhetorically.
Getting stonewalled at nearly every turn, at nearly every office, Fabby said the grassroots movement decided it was time to field candidates and try and replace some of our elected officials with representatives who were willing to stand up for not only the Republican Party platform, but the issues and values that are important to the citizens they represent.
As a citizen, Fabby said he has a responsibility to his family, to his community, to his state and to his country to try and make a difference by serving in elected office.
With the fire and passion of a Pentecostal preacher speaking from the pulpit, Fabby speaks about the federal overreach of power and its infringement on state’s rights and how that overreach has crippled local governance.
An astute student of history, he quotes dates and legislative decisions and the Presidents who signed the bills into law and describes in detail how each one expanded the power of federal government while chipping away at each state’s right for self governance and on a more personal level — individual rights and liberties.
Going back to the early Continental Congress, Fabby points out that this nation was founded as a republic — a limited umbrella government designed to form an alliance between the 13 sovereign states, each responsible for governing themselves.
“We’ve gotten so far away from that concept because today the federal government is dictating and controlling almost every aspect of our life,” Fabby said. “We’re starting to see movements in some states that are standing up and saying ‘No’ to the federal overreach. If elected, I will be part of that process because I am a firm believer of state’s rights and I will support nullification of unconstitutional laws.”
Citing examples, Fabby listed Obamacare, the Patriot Act and the National Firearms Act as being not only unconstitutional, but also detrimental to America.
On the state level, Fabby points out that if the Legislature in Austin stands together, they can tell the federal government “No” through nullification.
“We’re already seeing this process in action in Colorado and Washington, two states that recently approved the legalization of marijuana,” he said. “What they have done is nullify a federal law because the federal government has laws on the books that make it a felony crime to possess or use marijuana. The citizens of Colorado and Washington have basically told Washington we don’t agree with that law and through referendum, have basically nullified that law.”
When asked if he supports the legalization of marijuana, Fabby points out that it is a decision for each state to make.
“I believe we should decriminalize marijuana in Texas,” he said. “We have far too many Texans in prison for non-violent offenses. It is costing our state billions of dollars while ruining lives.”
Comparing the War on Drugs to Prohibition during the early 20th century, Fabby said all it has done is created an opportunity for crime to flourish as well as an industry within the government that robs the taxpayers.
While he doesn’t advocate marijuana or other drug use, Fabby said he opposes mandatory prison sentences for minor possession charges and instead, would like to see the law changed that allows judges discretion and sentencing option that encourage treatment instead of prison.
“Most of these non-violent offenders aren’t bad people. They are just folks who made a bad decision — and I’m not talking about the drug smugglers, I’m talking about those who were arrested with a small amount of drugs for personal use. When we send them to prison, we’re not helping them. All we’re doing is sending them to a place where they receive an education on how to be real criminals — and we’re spending a lot of taxpayer dollars to do it.
“The same thing happened during Prohibition,” he said. “Do you think there would have ever been an Al Capone if it hadn’t been for Prohibition? The War on Drugs hasn’t solved anything. But you really have to stop for a minute and think who has benefited because of it. It certainly isn’t the average American. If anything, none of us are any safer than we were when President Nixon created the War on Drugs. I’d say just the opposite is true. And when you look at all the tax dollars that have and continue to go into fighting this overreach of federal government, I know I’m certainly a whole lot poorer because the government is digging deeper into my pocket.”
Using the War on Drugs to transition into one of his top issues, Fabby speaks passionately about his support for Second Amendment rights and how the War on Drugs — as well as other legislative action — continues to erode the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms.
“I am very pro Second Amendment,” he said, noting that he will vehemently oppose any legislation that seeks to restrict gun ownership. “I strongly believe it is every American’s right to not only own a gun, but be allowed to carry it wherever they choose to do so.”
A student of the Constitution, Fabby said the Second Amendment was adopted by our founders for a purpose — and it wasn’t to allow us the right to own weapons so we could hunt.
“The right to keep and bear arms is to provide us with means to defend ourselves,” he said. “And if you study history, it is very clear that our founders wanted to make certain we had the right to defend ourselves from an overreaching government like the one they were declaring their independence from. If you look back, one of the first things the English government did prior to the revolution was to attempt to take away all of the guns from colonists so they had no means of fighting back. If you look what’s happening today, our very own government is trying to do the same thing.
“I can absolutely promise everyone that if elected I will fight to my last breath to protect their rights for gun ownership and will oppose every measure that seeks to limit that right,” he said.
Deeply religious, Fabby adds that he is also passionate about the right to protect all life — include those yet to be born.
“I am very pro life,” he said. “I believe life begins at conception. At that moment, there is a unique, individual human being with its own DNA. Even though it isn’t born, it deserves the same protection as every one else. I will fight to end abortion in Texas.”
While he holds many libertarian viewpoints, Fabby said he is a Republican and supports the Republican Party platform.
“The problem is that most of the Republicans that have been elected to office haven’t been willing to fight for the party platform. They get into office and they make deals and compromise and at the end of the day what has happened is so far removed from the platform you wouldn’t know that the Republicans hold a super majority in the Legislature in Austin or the majority in Congress in Washington,” he said. “We need to elect Republicans who are willing to fight for what we believe in. If we believe our party’s platform is right, we should be fighting for it and you shouldn’t comprise with the party that’s wrong.”
He uses the GOP’s platform to transition to the next issue: taxation.
“I can honestly stand before you today and pledge that I will never — and I repeat, NEVER — vote to raise your taxes,” he said, adding that if elected he will work to repeal property taxes.
“Property taxes make it more difficult for Texans to own a home and, it takes away from our inalienable right to own property,” he said. “If you think you own your own home, think again. You might hold the deed and own it free and clear, but try skipping a year on your property taxes and see who really owns your home. It’s not you. We’re just leasing that property from the state. I want to eliminate property taxes.”
He also stressed that property taxes incur a great deal of expense, as it creates the need for appraisal districts and legal fees.
For the next five minutes Fabby talks about government finance and how the politicians have used “smoke and mirrors” to steadily increase revenues — taxes — while providing political cover to avoid having to tell the people they taking more of their money.
“First, I’m going to push for transparent taxation,” he said. “If the state is spending taxpayer dollars, we need to tell the people where that money is coming from and how we’re going to use it.
“We also need to make sure that we’re using dedicated taxes for what they are intended to be used for and not put that money in the general fund,” said Fabby, using the Texas lottery as a prime example.
“When we approved the lottery, all of that revenue was supposed to be used for public education in Texas. I believe we could solve our school finance issue — or at least get us a lot closer to a solution — if we were actually using the Texas lottery revenue for what we told the taxpayers instead of putting that money into the general fund for other purposes. The taxes we pay every time we put gas in our tank is another example. That money is supposed to be used for our roads and bridges.”
Outlining his plan for a fair, open and equitable solution to provide revenue for state government, Fabby said he is proposing a 6.5 percent sales tax.
“It is a much fairer form of taxation,” he said. “It is based entirely on what you consume — both products and services. If you consume a lot, you pay more taxes. If you don’t, you pay less — but you, the citizen, are in control of what you pay.”
Fabby added that a consumption-based tax also includes purchases made by undocumented aliens residing in Texas — who pay no taxes under the current system.
“We have to take the burden off of the property owners and we need to encourage and promote home ownership. It is vital to the health of our economy,” he said.
When asked if a 6.5 percent sales tax would be enough to cover the current level of state government spending, Fabby said yes.
“But there’s also a lot of waste that needs to be cut from the state budget,” he said, citing a long list of state programs ranging from feral hog eradication to palatial rest areas along the Interstate.
“There’s a lot of these things that we can do without having to spend a dime of taxpayer money and there’s a lot of things we simply don’t need,” he said. “But instead of thinking outside the box, the Legislature has been quick to get into our pocket to pay for a solution.”
Instead of shelling out millions of dollars to eradicate feral hogs, Fabby said each county with a feral hog problem could hold a contest with hunters buying into a pool for the chance to win prizes for the biggest or most hogs shot.
He again brings up the state’s burgeoning penal system and how much the state is spending to put Texans in prison for nonviolent offenses.
“It’s not only a waste of taxpayer resources and it’s a waste of human life,” he said. “We have too many Texas in prison that should have been treatment centers or received other forms of punishment.”
Instead of remaining silent or tap-dancing around these issues, Fabby said the Republican Party needs to take the lead and take a stand.
“If I’m elected, I’m not going to Austin to make friends. I’m going to fight for what it is right,” he said.
On the issue of education, Fabby said he would fight to return local control to the school districts.
“It is called ‘Independent School District’ for a reason. We need to let each school district make the decisions they need to make for what is best for their district,” he said, adding that he is a strong advocate for school choice and home schooling.
“I don’t believe in standardized testing. The teachers should be allowed to teach and inspire. They can’t do that if they are being told to teach to a test. Also, each district should be able to make the decisions on what is best for their schools — not Austin. If a school isn’t performing well, parents should also have the right — the choice — to take their child to another school that is performing well,” he said.
Fabby would also like to abolish the Texas Education Agency, saying it is an unnecessary agency run by an unelected administration that does not answer to the people. With the Texas State Board of Education in place, governed by elected representatives, Fabby said the TEA is redundant and a wasteful use of tax dollars.
When it comes to securing Texas’ border with Mexico, Fabby said Texas cannot wait for the federal government to do its job.
“We’ve waited too long already,” he said, stressing that Texas needs to take the lead.
As a means to securing the border, Fabby said he is proposing the Texas State Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety to work jointly with the U.S. Customs Border Patrol — if possible. Additionally, he will work within the Legislature to eliminate restrictions for volunteer organizations to assist in monitoring and patrolling the border area.
“We already have a group of veterans who have and are willing to donate their time and experience to assist in securing our borders,” he said. “At the Legislative level, we can cut the red tape that would allow them to do more, and it wouldn’t cost the state or federal government a dime. Instead of implementing common-sense solutions like this, we’re waiting on Washington to do their job and while nothing is happening, the situation along our border communities is getting worse.”
While Fabby is opposed to amnesty measures for undocumented immigrates or shortcuts to American citizenship, he fully supports a streamlined worker visa system that would allow law abiding residents to enter Texas to work legally, then return home.
“There is no question that Texas needs this labor force,” he said. “But we have got to provide a way these honest, hard working people can come into Texas with a streamlined work visa, then return home. The way the system works now, we are encouraging folks to enter this country illegally, and then we’re encouraging them to smuggle their family here because it’s too risky to go back home for a visit. It just doesn’t make any sense.
“We should be able to provide a streamlined work visa program without having to change our current laws on obtaining citizenship. Again, I am against amnesty and I am against any shortcut to citizenship. If you want to be a U.S. citizen you need to follow the rules and wait your turn, just like everyone else. But we also need workers. If you want to come here to work for a short period of time, we should be able to make that happen in a legal, fair manner.”
Taking a quick glance down at his watch, Fabby realizes the late hour and stands, expressing his appreciation for the opportunity to communicate his platform with the voters.
“I’m just an average citizen with bills and commitments just like everyone else,” he said. “I love my country and I love my state. Like a lot of my neighbors, I don’t like the direction our government is taking us. As a citizen, I have a duty to stand up and be counted and try to change that direction. That’s why I’m running. I don’t have any hidden agenda and I’m certainly not in this to line my pocket. But I do believe it’s time for someone to stand up for what’s right and say enough is enough. That’s what I’m doing.”