A Carrollton City Council member may be involved with the partisan fliers that were sent out concerning Neil Ferguson and Ronni Cade in the late stages of their runoff election last month.
The morning of June 15, Lewisville voters found fliers in their mailboxes related to the runoff election between Ferguson and Cade for the Place 2 City Council seat. The fliers painted a highly partisan picture of the two candidates, singling Ferguson out as a Democrat with a liberal agenda and ascribing to him several views that he has never expressed, and contrasted Cade as a conservative. Local municipal elections are non-partisan.
Despite the fliers’ support for her, Cade was furious when she saw them. She said she was completely blindsided.
“I screamed. “I said, ‘I hope this doesn’t cost me an election,’” she said. “I would publicly apologize to Neil, but I didn’t do it.”
Cade took public backlash for the fliers online, but her poll performance went up after the fliers came out.
Ferguson would go on to defeat Cade, winning his third full city council term, but by a very narrow margin. He led her by 338 votes in the May 5 general election, but a third candidate Mary Smith siphoned off enough votes from the two of them that it was only good for 47.63 percent of the total vote, necessitating a runoff. But in that runoff, Ferguson only led Cade by 46 votes, and actually earned fewer than she did on election day itself — the day after these fliers came out.
Barely visible on the flier, hidden in the shadow of a picture of Cade, is the funding disclosure — Paid for by the North Texas PAC for Trust, Honesty and Integrity. The PAC’s website says its mission is to recruit, train, promote and financially support candidates across every available platform, and lists Lewisville school and city elections as two of a handful of “targets.” It states, “we must combat the left by winning every local down ballot election.” The PAC has raised $14,047.37 and spent $13,017.51 this year as of July 11, according to the Texas Ethics Commission website.
The PAC website lists two of its principals as treasurer Tom Washington and Carrollton City Council member Mike Hennefer. The PAC’s mailing address is Hennefer’s business office in Dallas. Hennefer was elected to the council in 2017, and had previously run for the Texas District 65 Representative seat, losing in the primary to Ron Simmons in 2012. Simmons would win the general race and is up for re-election this year.
Hennefer declined comment for this story.
The PAC website quotes Hennefer in saying, “The opposition is ugly. They are using fear and falsehoods.” Several of the claims on the PAC’s Lewisville fliers are either unconfirmed or misleading.
The fliers say Ferguson supports sanctuary cities, restricting Second Amendment rights, open borders, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez, House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco) and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D- New York) — views he has never publicly expressed.
For Cade’s part, the flier says she will enforce the law on sanctuary cities, evoking an ongoing national debate on immigration policies, with “law” underlined for emphasis. The possibility of becoming a sanctuary city, or a municipality that does not fully cooperate with national efforts to enforce immigration law, has not been a topic of conversation in Lewisville.
Cade said she’d never heard of the PAC, Washington or Hennefer, and was shocked to learn he was a councilman in Carrollton. However, she said she’d been told that local Democratic groups had endorsed Ferguson, and that Democrats have nationally decided to get more involved in local campaigns. Cade said she was told that was the impetus for the North Texas PAC sending out its fliers.
Cade referred specifically to the United Democrats of Denton County, whose Facebook page posted an endorsement of Ferguson May 2, along with nine other candidates in unrelated races. The page has 84 likes, and the specific post has no interactions.
Cade and Ferguson were both publicly committed to running a clean campaign, and had expressed respect for each other in the past. Cade had previously served on Lewisville’s City Council in the ‘90s, and said she was frustrated with the growing national split between liberal and conservative Americans. She said party politics had no place in local elections.
“The municipal and the school board elections are non-partisan, and there’s a reason for that,” she said. “You can do your national platforms and stuff like that on a state level, county level, whatever, but when you’re talking about a city council level and a school board level, we’re there to represent everybody.”
Ferguson agreed, saying that party politics has no place on council whatsoever.
“When you can convince me there are potholes with a ‘D’ and others with an ‘R’ on them, and we need to figure out which ones should be funded for repair and which should not, I will know it is the end of sanity and rational government at City Hall,” Ferguson said. “It will also be the end of progress accomplished through teamwork. Keep the national talking point out of local government, and we will all be the better for it.”