Monday, October 7, 2013 by Charlotte Moore

VanDeWalle is lone Republican candidate in District 50 House race

Four weeks from Tuesday, Travis County voters who live in Texas House District 50 will have the opportunity to clearly define the kind of representation they want on the state level.

For them, November’s election is made more interesting in part because of the candidacy of North Travis County chiropractor, Mike VanDeWalle.

VanDeWalle is the lone Republican in the run. His Democratic rivals are former Ann Richards aide Celia Israel, former Travis County Assistant District Attorney Rico Reyes and business owner Jade Chang Sheppard. All four are vying for the seat Mark Strama left earlier this year to lead Austin’s Google Fiber project.

In the last election for District 50 state Rep, Strama ran unopposed. When VanDeWalle heard Strama was leaving, he felt a divine compulsion to run.

“I’ve raised a family and I’ve had a successful business,” he says. “God planted in my mind two years ago something needs to be done. Someone needs to put some conservatism back. I didn’t know it would be me. But I bring something different because I’m not a politician. I’m used to listening to patients and solving problems every day, and I think we could do a lot of good for the community.”

And, VanDeWalle says because he’s running, District 50 voters can make their voices be heard.

“I remember participating in elections where it really didn’t make a difference who or what I voted for,” he said, laughing. “In this race, people have a clear choice one way or another.”

A fiscal conservative, VanDeWalle grew up on a farm in Iowa.

“I’m a third-generation American,” he says. “My grandfather came from Belgium with nothing. My dad started his first farm with a pig and a cow. We grew up very poor even though I didn’t know I was. I was the first one in my family to go to high school, college and graduate school.” VanDeWalle has worked as an electrician, plumber, carpenter, in highway inspections, real estate, and as a team doctor for Austin ISD sporting events.

He met Linda, his wife of 40 years, in college. They have two children who are also Austin-area chiropractors.

The VanDeWalles moved to District 50 from Davenport, Iowa in 1981, “just in time for the Memorial Day flood,” he says.

Since then, VanDeWalle has tolerated what he would call a deluge of government rules and regulations.

“When government runs into trouble, they just write another law,” he said. “I’m thinking we’ve got too many laws. Of course we need regulations, but they have to be wise regulations.”

VanDeWalle laughs as he recalls working on a real estate transaction involving a government-funded program. “There was a paper you had to sign designating that you signed the previous paper,” he said. “There are so many regulations you practically need a full-time person to handle them. The candidates running against me are even more liberal than Mr. Strama was. There will be a difference in the way I encourage limitations.”

VanDeWalle says his neighbors are concerned with jobs, regulations and the protection of personal freedoms. His fiscal conservative stance aligns neatly with that of the Republican base. He believes as areas like Pflugerville, Round Rock, and pockets of North Austin continue to grow, the District 50 state representative will have to put greater focus on strengthening small businesses and promoting affordable health care.

Not surprisingly, VanDeWalle does not support the Affordable Care Act.

“Obamacare is basically an HMO,” he says. “If people have choice, then the best comes out of that. If you centralize something like health care, someone is making a decision for everyone else in the country. How is that going to work? We need to return more power back to the states and individuals. Take the binds off small business, and you’ll see this country take off.”

Education funding reform, cheap energy alternatives and transportation issues will also rank high on a VanDeWalle agenda.

“I live about four blocks from where I work, but any thriving economy has to have excellent transportation,” he says.

VanDeWalle’s supporters and endorsers include District 47 State Rep. Paul Workman of Austin and former Texas Republican Party Chair Cathie Adams.

While voters may not know him as well as they may a couple of his opponents, VanDeWalle says he has a distinct advantage because of his varied background, his knowledge of how to run a successful business and his ability to relate to the working middle class.

“I have a lot in common with just about everybody I’ve talked to,” he says. “I think I can make a difference.”

Early voting begins Oct. 21st.

To read more VanDeWalle, go to www.drmikefortexas.com. Profiles of the other candidates in this race appeared in In Fact Daily last Thursday and Friday.

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November 2013 elections: The November 2013 General Election took place on November 5.

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