Chapter 7. Local Governments in Texas





Chapter 7. Local Governments in Texas

Challenges Facing County Governments

Counties are facing many issues that are becoming more demanding by the day. One such issue is problems with structural finances. Property taxes are going down when the growing cost of services is increasing, and the infrastructure in place is aging. These warrant repairs and maintenance of infrastructure under local governments such as roadways, sidewalks, water and sewer lines as well as municipal facilities. The growth of metropolitan areas is also causing increasing stress on roadways meaning these part of infrastructure requires attention as well. On top of these, counties have to deal with the economic impacts of climate change that bring about water scarcity and extreme weather. Technology is also bringing about regulatory problems to local governments as vocal parties demand that these advanced technologies be bound by regulation in ways that ensure existing industries are protected.

Declining county funding is a very significant problem for county governments. In addition to this, state governments are limiting the counties’ capacity to raise revenue. Forty-five states have put some limitations on the abilities of counties to raise money through property tax. Counties are forced to cut funding from crucial areas such as public safety to cover the deficits. States are increasing mandates for counties to implement without providing the funding required to do so.

To deal with the fragmentation of programs and services, county governments should engage nonprofits an social enterprises to generate a hybrid model of public services and one driven by profit. The need for public trash collection, habilitation of people dependent on drugs, safe housing options, and so forth have been answered by private entities. Citizens are given some degree of power to resolve their own issues that would otherwise burden these governments. Citizen engagement is thus essential, and the use of technology can help further this initiative. Citizen engagement means collaborative work that aides in building on past developments and incorporating new services.

Differences Between Strong-Mayor, Weak-Mayor and Council-Manager

A weak mayor kind of government uses a mayor-council method where he/she is subordinate to the council in terms of the mandate for policymaking and administration powers. The council employs a city manager and appoints the mayor as opposed to being elected. The council-manager is appointed by the council in which the mayor is a member. The mayor is elected by the citizens. A strong mayor or the mayor-council form of government has the mayor as the chief executive officer of the city and does not employ as city manager, maybe an admin to help run daily affairs. The strong-mayor form of government is the most desirable for me because, as a mayor, one would like to do things his way. The issues one promised the electorate deal with once elected will be easily executed without needing approval and without including limitations.

Chapter 8. Public Opinion and the Media in Texas

Why Texas Democrats Trust the Supreme Court more than Other Government Branches

Despite the Supreme Court being the least understood branch of government, it is the most trusted. Democrats in Texas believe that supreme court judges follow the law and not political ideas when rendering their decisions on issues. Texas Democrats believe that Supreme Court judges base their decision solely on the law. There have been partisan battles recently over the highest court in the land. However, a majority of people, including Texas Democrats, believe that the court holds a moderate position in this liberal-conservative continuum. This opinion about the supreme court by Texas Democrats increases with more knowledge on the court and the decision of judges. In essence, the Supreme Court is specially capable of commanding respect, especially when compared against other government branches, and most of all, those citizens that are aware of the roles of justices under the constitution.

Why Republicans and Independents in Texas Trust Trump more than the Supreme Court

Trust in the executive, particularly Trump, is strongly related to party support. Almost all Republicans have trust in the president because he is, of course, conservative as they are. Republicans trust the Supreme court more than they distrust it but not as much as they trust the president. Some believe that the Supreme Court sometimes leans to the liberal side. A good example is a decision made by the supreme court in the last few terms. The decision to stop President Trump’s addition of work as an eligibility requirement for Medicaid is one that may be considered by liberals as to lean towards the liberal direction because it was President Obama who expanded this program. Independents do not support the Supreme court as much as they do the president because they believe that the Supreme Court may be leaning to one side of this partisan continuum. Unlike the president who has the right to have biased ideas, the Supreme Court should be strictly unbiased, and when a little biasness is perceived, independents would rather side with the side that is not selling out. Independents in Texas might have supported Trump despite them being on no side, which means they have trust in him.

Chapter 9. Voting and Political Participation in Texas

Effects of voter ID laws on Turnout in Texas

The Texas voter ID laws require voters to have with them a government-issued ID such as an identification certificate, a driver’s license, a US passport or a military ID. Such requirements disenfranchise minority voters who face significant limitations when applying for these IDS. The laws accept a license to carry a gun but decline a government or school-issued ID, which is just absurd. It is known that white people in Texas are the minority with licenses to carry handguns. Minorities face huge barriers to obtain a gun license; that is why these laws can be perceived to be discriminatory. Other states permit various forms of ID that are excluded from Texas laws, which keep a lot of people from voting. These laws, according to Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos from the US District Court of Southern District of Texas, had a discriminatory effect. These laws affect voter turn out by targeting particular races and enacting restrictions that most certainly appear to keep them away from the ballot. These patterns of requirements under these laws cannot be explained by grounds other than race.

Barriers should not accompany the right to vote. The voter ID laws keep many away from the ballot, deprive them of their constitutional right to vote, and directly oppose the country’s progress towards including more Americans in the democratic process. Many Americans do not have access to the forms of identification included in these laws. These voters are disproportionally low-income, from racial minority groups, and other vulnerable demographics. These voters have a hard time obtaining ID because either they cannot afford to obtain the documents required to obtain a photo ID card issued by the government. A study by GAO indicates that voter ID laws reduce voter turn out by about 2 to 3 percentage points, which means tens of thousands of Texas residents cannot vote.

Why I oppose these laws

I oppose these laws because almost 11 percent of Americans do not have a government-issued photo ID (ACLU). Again, obtaining this ID requires money, an expense that low-income Americans cannot foot. This includes the combined cost of document fees, waiting time, and the cost incurred during travel. When these costs are combined, they come to between $75 to $175. The elderly and people with disabilities cannot be able to travel as well as those people coming from rural areas. People from Rural Texas travel up to 170 miles to the next ID office.

The discriminatory aspect of these laws mostly influences my stand against this law. Minority voters do not have the IDs required for voting as compared to white people. A quarter of African-Americans across the nation of voting age do not have photo IDs from the government in which is quite disproportional, considering only 8 percent of whites lack these photo IDs. Besides, allowing permits for handguns to vote and disallowing other forms of ID such as student IDs is straight-up discriminatory. Again, the majority of minorities do not have handgun permits, which are also hard to obtain when one is from either of these groups.

Chapter 10. Campaigns and Elections in Texas

The Role of the Media in elections

The media is central to the proper function of a democratic nation. The media usually plays a watchful role. They conduct autonomous scrutiny and discuss the strengths and shortcomings of candidates, bodies that oversee elections, the government, and informs the public of the extent these agencies have carried out their mandate as required and join them in holding them accountable. The media also ensure public participation in elections by educating them on how to exercise this democratic right. They also provide reports on how the election is progressing. The media give candidates as well as their affiliated parties a platform to communicate with the electorate. It also allows the public to communicate their ideas, concerns and needs to the authorities and to people seeking to join the administration and provide a platform for them to interact on these issues.

The media so far has played most of its part as the backbone of this democratic nation. It has informed, criticized, and stimulated debate on various crucial occasions. The credibility of the media has, however, been in question. Its effectiveness is based on its responsibility to get its facts right, which I believe it has done. The media has dug deep, collected opinions from different people, and countercheck their facts thoroughly. It has not held back in rooting out deception and exposing liars, hypocrites, and the corrupt using counterchecked facts.

Where the media does not show much merit is avoiding to cause panic by exaggerating facts. It appears that the media these days is reliant on the information that cause havoc in order to draw public attention. The press is yet to lose the respect of the people and the nation at large, but there have been instances of irresponsibility, exaggeration, and mongering to influence sales.

Challenges that hinder minor party candidates from succeeding in statewide

Minority party candidates are a long way from ousting the Republican and Democratic hegemony that has characterized American politics for way over 150 years. Republicans and Democrats still reinforce archaic laws that ensure voters have only two choices at the ballot. When these two parties came to power during the early years, each with its turn, they created restrictions that bar outsiders from participating fully in the state as well as national elections.

In Arizona, for instance, Republicans and Democrats need to collect 6,000 valid signatures in order to be included in the ballot. However, this number is six times higher for independents who are required to bring them in the form of valid petitions. In reality, an independent would need to collect around 50,000 signature to make sure that they have 37,000 that are valid (Galen). Only candidates that are able to fund themselves or have independent notoriety can be able to make these targets. It is clear that these two dominant parties have no interest in entertaining further competition. Even if independents join the Green or Libertarian parties, which are considered traditional failures, they solve the ballot problem, but still, they suffer from the wasted-vote theory where voters see them as fringe groups with no likelihood of winning.

Works Cited

ACLU. “Oppose Voter ID Legislation – Fact Sheet.” American Civil Liberties Union, 2017,

Galen, R. “Opinion | Reed Galen: Here’s How to End America’s Ballot Box Duopoly.” NBC News, 17 Apr. 2018,

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