The League is honored to have Calvin Tillman on our interim board. He is one of a kind. Calvin is the former town commissioner and mayor of the small town DISH, Texas. He was elected, in 2015, to the Aubrey City Council. DISH is at the crossroads of many natural gas pipelines. Tillman was active in pursuing state legislation regarding the routing of natural gas pipelines as well as efforts to curb the powers that the pipeline companies have been given over property owners. A resolution to curb these powers was passed by the town of DISH and was passed by forty other towns with well over a million people represented.
Mayor Tillman has served on work groups with members of the state legislature and the natural gas industry, regarding pipeline routing and industry regulation. He has traveled around the United States speaking on responsible drilling. Mayor Tillman was recognized for his contributions by the Texas Progressive Alliance with the Gold Star Texan award. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he has degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, and Concordia University of Texas.
Tillman was featured in the award winning, Oscar nominated documentary Gasland and Gasland Part 2; and also Detroit PBS documentary Beyond the Light Switch.
Tillman now focuses on private property rights at the state level. He is very active in championing legislation that enhances and protects private property rights for Texans. A lifelong Republican, he now calls himself a committed independent. Websites: www.calvintillman.com
Michele Gangnes is a resident of Lee County and a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law. She has practiced law for 42 years, first as a partner in two Pacific Northwest law firms before returning to her native Texas in 1995 as a sole practitioner. Michele is nationally recognized as a peer-reviewed attorney in the highest categories of legal ability and ethics. She concentrates her practice in the representation of global financial institutions, primarily in tax-exempt municipal and 501(c)(3) financing.
Michele became a founding member of the League of Independent Voters of Texas after writing an extensive analysis of Proposition 6, the constitutional Water Amendment that passed in November 2013. She is also a veteran water and environmental volunteer activist in central Texas. Starting with the original attempted “water grab” in Lee and Bastrop counties by San Antonio and Alcoa in 1998, she has worked pro bono on water issues for Neighbors for Neighbors and the League of Independent Voters.
She recently became one of the founders of the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF), a central Texas 501(c)(3) organization. SAWDF (www.simsborowaterdefensefund.org) is dedicated to protecting and conserving the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer and the rivers, streams and springs that are nurtured by it, and to taking action to defend the legal rights of landowners to leave a legacy of sustainable water resources for future Texans.
The League has our very own resident federal budget nerd, Jeff Harper, of Ft. Worth. Jeff is the author of Uncle Sam’s Checkbook. A reference booklet on federal spending the size of a checkbook. Harper does speaking engagements that allow citizens to quickly see what is actually spent where and to propose their own budget and revenue plan.
In 1998, Jeff served as team leader of the Budget Committee in Ross Perot’s Reform Party. Harper was also the State Issues Director in the Reform Party of Texas, until its demise in 2000.
In 2001, Jeff was a founder of Independent Texans, a citizens PAC. On behalf of Independent Texans, Jeff personally contacted editors of all 88 Texas daily newspapers, during the 2003 Texas legislative special session on redistricting. He asked editors if they would support an independent non-partisan redistricting system similar to those used in Arizona and Iowa. Not surprisingly, the response was overwhelmingly positive. All major newspapers wrote editorials or stated their clear support for a citizens redistricting commission.
Harper drafted the 36 non-gerrymandered districts for the League's board. Learn more on that subject.
Arlan Foster was born in Pasadena and settled in Liberty County in 1994. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran. Though having lost his dear wife, Carolyn, a few years ago who also supported the work of the independent movement, Arlan has an extended family he looks out for in a myriad of ways.
After the military, Arlan became a Deputy Constable with the Harris County Constable’s office. He worked in law enforcement for over 19 years and was an officer with the Department of Criminal Justice for 12 years. Arlan also worked construction out of Ironworkers Local 84, Pipefitters Local 211 and “turnarounds” as a boilermaker/pipe fitter for Austin Industrial, AJ Mundy Company, Brown & Root and other contractors after the decline of the building trade unions during the Reagan years.
In 2006, Alran won his union (he served as President) – AFSCME, Council 7 -- over to endorsing Carole Keeton Strayhorn when she ran against Rick Perry as an independent for Governor. He says today, “I never regretted that endorsement, despite that Carole lost. With Carole’s help, we Texans united across party lines to defeat Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor land grab and a blight on the blackland prairie – some of the richest farm soil in the world.”
Arlan ran for State Representative of House District 18 in 2008. He said then, “I know the struggles of the people of East Texas; I live them,” says Foster. “I’m a working man.” Arlan ran as a Democrat in that race and saw how straight ticket voting harms those running in “down ballot” races. He fully supports the League of Independent Voters’ commitment to open and competitive elections, including ending straight ticket voting, independent non-partisan redistricting reform and the full right of Texans to petition for a public vote – aka Initiative, Referendum and Recall.
Samantha "Sam” Davis was born an irrepressible, pre-existing condition on the Texas frontier’s rural bitten lip at the Mouth of the Rio Grande River. Davis skipped kindergarten and her first act of righteous civil disobedience was in first grade when she refused to provide her social security number to the school district, which was requested on a form at the beginning of each single year---she did this as an act of both privacy and liberty, and as an act of solidarity with her playmates who didn’t always have the right papers. As both a ‘hired gun’ and volunteer, she has (mostly quietly) worked on a number of grassroots insurgent campaigns, notably under the mentorship of the renowned trash-talking political consultant William “Peck” Young. The day after Labor Day (and on the heels of her work the Bernie Sanders Campaign, where she was a state senior staffer in TX and NY and later an Advance Team staffer), Davis joined the front line of the trade unionist movement for National Nurses United. And most recently she joined the League’s board. You want this irrepressible advocate on your side.
David Jones has been an accomplished, dynamic Health and Wellness Advocate since 1996. He has a master’s degree in business management. He previously worked as a Code Enforcement Assistant, Licensed Insurance Agent, and HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Specialist. David grew up in Ohio and is a US Air Force Veteran that moved to Austin in the early 90s. He has volunteered for a number of Austin organizations. Currently, he is a volunteer board member for the Austin Tenants' Council advocating for affordable housing without discrimination. David is also an experienced speaker who remains active with Exchange Park Toastmasters in Austin. In addition to his LIV board member duties, David is learning new technical skills working to revamp the LIV website. He is committed to LIV's mission and vision of competitive elections and building sustainable solutions for all communities.