Linda Curtis Biography
Linda Curtis is a leading spokesperson, analyst and tactician for the Texas independent political movement. Linda has a long history working in the independent movement; from her early efforts gaining ballot access for the first woman and African-American to get on the ballot for President in all 50 states (Lenora Fulani in 1988) to the Ross Perot founded Reform Party in the 1990s. She went on to remake the Texas independent movement that she calls, “a life’s work in progress” built on plenty of failure and a few great licks in-between.
The following is a history for those of you who have the time and desire for details:
In 1997 Linda helped shape a local ballot measure petition drive started in the city of Austin by local environmentalist, Brent White. The “No More Corruption” petition would place a measure on the ballot to limit contributions to City Council members to $100. Linda recalled petition signers saying “do you really think you’re going to get rid of all the corruption? How about just a little less?” The name was then changed to “Austinites for a Little Less Corruption“. Though the group gathered 28,000 signatures (needing less than 18,000 valid signatures), then Austin City Clerk Eldon Aldridge, crossed out 14,000 signatures on such technicalities as was the signature of Brian Rodgers. Rodgers had given his correct address and last name, but signed with his middle name as his first. Rodgers became a witness in a federal lawsuit to force the City of Austin to place the measure on the ballot.
Federal Court Judge Sam Sparks harshly ordered the City of Austin to place the ALLC measure on the ballot…but it was delayed until November 1997. Meanwhile, so contends Curtis, the damage had been done by keeping the measure off the May ballot when Kirk Watson was for Austin Mayor in a three-way race that included Councilmember and local environmental populist, Max Nofziger. Max was running as a voice for the ALLC measure. Watson, a wealthy trial lawyer and formerly the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, was supported by outgoing Mayor Bruce Todd. Curtis said, “Todd is the likely person to have ordered City Clerk Aldridge to gut the petitions and obviously to benefit his friend, Kirk Watson. That was the beginning in my mind of the full takeover by the voracious hogs at the public trough in the real estate growth machine.” (Watson went on to be Mayor for two terms, followed by his chairmanship of the Austin Chamber of Commerce where he continued to build his fundraising base. Watson then moved up to State Senator, after forcing Gonzalo Barrientos to step down. Curtis is quick to point out that, in the Republican redistricting, Watson somehow wound up with Bastrop in his district along with much of Austin.)
Following the implosion of the Reform Party in 2001, Linda helped found Independent Texans, a political action committee for independent and non-aligned voters that sought to unite independents of all persuasions — left, center and right.
In 2004, Linda helped coordinate the Austin Toll Party, led by marketing whiz and citizen activist Sal Costello. Sal’s efforts soon were joined by Terri Hall of Bulverde, who later founded the San Antonio Toll Party and Texas TURF. These urban/suburban anti-toll efforts soon joined forces with Linda and David Stall and CorridorWatch.org’s efforts to defeat the Trans-Texas Corridor.
In 2006 Independent Texans endorsed Carole Keeton Strayhorn for Governor as an independent. Linda coordinated groups across the state that utilized Carole Strayhorn’s campaign to help defeat the Trans-Texas Corridor (aka the “NAFTA Highway). She points out that, “Carole and Kinky Friedman, who also ran as an independent for Governor, split the independent vote — a real tragedy. But, we should never forget that Strayhorn’s candidacy — and the millions of dollars she spent on ads against the Trans-Texas Corridor — allowed us to reach across rural Texas into urban areas, marking the defeat of this terribly costly and destructive project.”
In 2008, Curtis started working more directly with Brian Rodgers, a local real estate developer and whistle-blower, and Albert Marino, a young Austin activist now educator. Together, they co-founded a political action committee in the city of Austin — ChangeAustin.org.
ChangeAustin’s founding grew out of the failure of a ballot measure campaign led and funded by Brian Rodgers and endorsed 500 local businesses, entitled “Stop Domain Subsidies“. The effort was to stop the city of Austin’s decision to subsidize the luxury shopping mall, The Domain. Curtis wrote about it on pg. 12-13 in “Who Will Organize the Independents?“. It was out of this failure, followed by the failure to stop the state of Texas and city of Austin from funding Formula 1 racing, followed by the failure to stop a $2.3 billion “wood chip” Nacogdoches biomass energy contract (a disaster for Austin Energy — that today is paying $53 million per year for no energy whatsoever), that produced the next step.
In 2011-12, Linda served as coordinator for an Austin based cross-partisan coalition, Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR) — managed by retired veteran Democratic political consultant, Peck Young. AGR led the effort to pass a historic change in Austin city council elections to single-member districts (known as “10-1”, that was ten single-member districts with only the Mayor elected at-large) and the first independent citizens redistricting commission in Texas to draw the lines. Looking back in 2016, Curtis said, “Young, an ally of former Mayor Bruce Todd and I were an unlikely and volatile duo, but we were a match truly made in hell for the festering corruption in the local Democratic Party machine. We never would have won without Peck’s cock-in-bull skill in neutralizing the opposition money boys from the real estate machine.”
Since the passage of 10-1, Austin continues to lead the state in growth-at-all costs policies that have all but killed Austin’s affordability and that threaten private property, land and water resources throughout the region. Curtis said, “Everyone should watch this video of Brian Rodgers who spoke in October 2016 in Bastrop about the true costs of the growth as the irresponsible developer lobby sets its sights now on surrounding counties, especially lower income communities like Bastrop and Caldwell counties.”
In the fall of 2013, Curtis helped found the non-profit (51034) only membership organization for independent, non-aligned voters in Texas — the League of Independent Voters of Texas. The League is helping to build another cross-partisan coalition focused on a variety of questions related to water, property rights and political reform. LIV has been a leader in the fight to stop the Vista Ridge 142-mile pipeline from Burleson County to San Antonio — a major threat to bringing the “California Water Model” to Texas. That model involves moving water to dry areas for the developer real estate lobby, while using eminent domain for private gain. Watch the 1 minute trailer or the entire 17 minute, “I Oppose the San Antone Hose“.
Eighteen days after his reelection, Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt gave then Gov. Rick Perry the tool allowed by state law to rush a special election called for House District 18 (Lee, Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales & Karnes counties). Early voting began in the middle of Christmas and New Years 2015. Curtis jumped into a five way race for state representative, “because no one wanted to talk about the planned heist by water profiteers of, by far, the most valuable asset in the district — masses of water in the slow recharge aquifer underlying us in the great Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer”. Curtis’ strong third-place showing (beating two Democrats and forcing a runoff between the two Republicans who far outspent her) forced the issue of groundwater depletion into the race. The current representative, John Cyrier (R-Lockhart), keeps this issue close to him as we enter the 2017 legislative session – thanks to the work of Independent Texans and the League of Independent Voters.
The goal of Independent Texans is to change the culture and structure of politics as we know it. As Curtis puts it, “In our view, politics is stuck in a time warp of the old ways of political machines. It must become a tool for ordinary citizens to create their own consensus around new solutions to old and festering problems. We know of no other way to do this than to focus, quite simply, on bringing ordinary citizens into political activity on the issues that unite — rather than divide — us.”
Curtis urges you read her paper, written in 2010, about the history and tactics of the Texas independent movement here entitled, “Who Will Organize the Independents?“.
Curtis’ regularly speaks on these topics:
- Why independents determine electoral outcomes, but have little power to change America and what we’re doing about it.
- How voters can work together to defeat special interest dominance of both parties.
- Why the future of the country rests on the development of the independent political movement — inside and outside both parties, with an emphasis on the latter.
- Why we need a united “third force”, not a “third party.”
- Whether there exists a “sweet spot” in the American body politic around which a super-majority of people can unite to take our country back.
Marie Day Biography
Marie Day has served as the state treasurer for Independent Texans since 2006. She is a 35+ year employee of one of the largest oil companies in the world. She is a first generation Texan and 3rd generation oil and gas industry worker.
Marie has been chair of Lavaca County Taxpayers, Inc. Her passion is to restore our state and country to a constitutionally limited government and to republic for which it was founded.
Marie is a mother of 2 sons and 4 granddaughters. She owns and runs a small ranch in Lavaca County and believes strongly in private property rights and the elimination of eminent domain. She never backs away from a debate, and though she stakes her ground, she also knows how to listen.
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