The differences are clear in the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts race between state Sen. Glenn Hegar Jr., R-Houston, and his Democratic challenger, Mike Collier. The men are vying to replace retiring Comptroller Susan Combs.
Collier stopped in Tyler on Monday to meet and greet supporters in the law office of Bill Liebbe, and discuss differences with his Republican opponent.
“My opponent, Glenn Hegar, is a rice farmer,” Collier said. “Why he didn’t run for Ag Commissioner I’ll never know. He won’t be passionate, he won’t have an independent point of view, he won’t be an energetic watchdog. I don’t think he understands the office.”
Hegar spent two terms in the Texas House and three in the Texas Senate. Collier counters that he is a certified public accountant, with nearly 30 years of experience.
“I’ve never done anything in politics before,” Collier said. “I need to get out and introduce myself. It’s democracy in action. I just got angry.”
Collier repeated a challenge to Hegar to debate.
“If any of y’all see him, tell him where I am, tell him I’d love to debate him sometime,” Collier said. “I like to have some fun with this, but it really is a serious business. The fact that he won’t come out and talk about it is offensive. I think he has a moral duty. If I’m feeling really aggressive, I like to say, ‘If you love this state, you must debate.’”
The bulk of Collier’s platform rests on the re-implementation of performance reviews for government programs, which he claims have not been as numerous or as effective in recent years.
“I intend to be a very independent comptroller, looking for duplicated expenses, waste, fraud, and so on,” Collier said. “Without a comptroller who is a watchdog, the taxpayers have no assurance their money is not being wasted. I’m going to call it my Accountability Team. We’re going to take the politics out of revenue forecasting and put competence in.”
Collier also intends to revise revenue forecasts on a quarterly basis, as opposed to at the beginning and end of each session of the legislature, which meets every other year, as in the current system. He claims that this process forces a more fiscally responsible outlook and provides “clear, unbiased information to the taxpayers.”
“It’s important to taxpayers to see how much money we have,” he said.
He also is emphatic on keeping big businesses accountable for their tax obligations, saying, “There are companies that are good guys, and good corporate citizenship is its own reward. I’m going after the bad guys, and I know where all the bodies are buried.”
Collier summarized his message as one of nonpartisan accountability.
“I hate crony capitalism,” he said. “I intend to be very aggressive in making that stop. I’m going to hold people accountable.”
Also on the ballot are Libertarian Ben Sanders and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto.