‘Loaded’ Empower Texans question sparks controversy at candidates’ forum

A question about the candidates’ opinion of Empower Texans led to a controversial exchange between candidates for mayor at Tuesday’s municipal candidates’ forum hosted by the Pecan Valley Republican Women.

The question, posed by moderator and KXYL personality Leland Acker, was, “What is your opinion of Empower Texans?”

The question stemmed from answers given during a previous candidates forum in which candidate Mike Tittle addressed the involvement of Empower Texans and their employees in his campaign. Critics of the question labeled it as “loaded.”

Mike Tittle, former 3M plant manager who is challenging Mayor Haynes in his bid for re-election said that Empower Texans is an organization that supports God, faith and family. He then solicited the support of Empower Texans by publicly giving his cell phone number.

Mayor Stephen Haynes responded by saying that Empower Texans is a non-profit group funded by two billionaires who do not want to pay property taxes. While saying that he understood their opposition to property taxes, Haynes said that property taxes fund local government, and not state government, adding that if property taxes were used to fund state government, then Empower Texans would target the Texas Legislature.

Tittle then returned to the mic, asking why the mayor did not support “God, faith and family,” while accusing the mayor of being tied to the rich and the powerful. Mayor Haynes then rebutted, saying that he would not respond to the first comment, but added that he will not apologize for having friends in the business community.

A full video of the candidates’ forum can be viewed on the Pecan Valley Republican Women’s Facebook page.