Winning with Questions

Every city and county in Texas needs a JoAnn Fleming. Under her leadership and guidance, voters in Tyler — and around the state — have been pushing for smarter government.

JoAnn Flemming
JoAnn Flemming

While many in the state’s Tea Party movement know of Mrs. Fleming from her work on the legislature’s Tea Party Caucus and efforts to expose budget trickery, her strongest impact is felt in Smith County. For several years she has organized a weekly meeting of activists, where they spend time learning about the issues facing their local, state and federal government.

The “Grassroots America – We The People” meeting is no sign-waving rally; it’s a serious discussion with 150+ audience regularly pressing speakers the sophisticated and complex questions.

A former county commissioner, JoAnn Fleming has for years advocated the need for local involvement. She has become an inspiration for many — including me — by helping citizens to be effective in civic engagement.

Their most recent victory was over a proposed bond election for November. Rather than be against it, Mrs. Fleming encouraged her friends to start asking questions about the need, impact, and costs, while also pressing for evidence about the educational theory under-girding the projects to be funded.

Ask they did, and they encouraged others to do likewise.

The net effect? The bond election is off the table for November. If it comes back in the future, it will inevitably be a better proposal because of their efforts.

By encouraging civic education and local activism, JoAnn is a shining example of just how much of a positive impact well-informed citizens can have locally.


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Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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