Editor’s Note: The interview took place via Zoom on 1/28/22.
Garrit: Can you introduce yourself?
Larry: My name is Larry Dale Carpenter Jr. I’m running for County Commissioner Precinct Four. I’m from Tarrant County. I was born and raised in the northwest sector of Tarrant County. I’m both a social and a fiscal conservative. I’m a true grassroots guy, and I don’t like the direction of where our state and county are moving. With Tarrant County being the third-largest county by population in the state, this has raised a lot of concerns with the amount of growth that we’ve had. Because of the whole COVID shift, there has been mass migration from the West Coast. Don’t let it mislead you, because we actually get a lot of good people from the West Coast. It opened up my eyes and stopped me from discriminating against people from the West Coast. As I started to meet and talk with people from there, I realized they’re just like you and me— they’re really conservative people. They just want to live their life, but unfortunately, they can’t do that on the West Coast. So, that’s what prompted me to jump in this race. I jumped in back in July of last year. I saw who was running in the race, and I did not want this to happen. I feel like with my conservative ideology, we can put Tarrant County back in its place of being a true red County and not some swing County— which they ultimately want us to turn into. This has been ongoing for the past 10 years. We had a mayor of Fort Worth that when she took over it was a solid hardcore red County. Through those 10 years she served, it has been a disaster in terms of Republicans leaving Tarrant County. This caused us to shift in this direction that has made us more blue. So, I think having constitutional conservative candidates on the county level is very crucial. We are ultimately the city council but for the entire county. If we have these liberal woke moderate city councils in these other municipalities throughout Tarrant County, at least our county government can be a very strong piece of government that will point us in the right direction. Ultimately, we have a lot more power than the city councils of all these municipalities. A little bit more about my background, I graduated from Fort Worth Boswell in 2006. I went to University and graduated in 2010 from Tarleton State. Then, I went overseas for quite some time. I lived in New Zealand where I worked on the earthquake project from 2012 to 2016. We dealt with everything from residential projects, commercial, and demo projects to removing hazardous materials from buildings. It was a really great experience, and it’s something that I can bring to the commissioner’s office as well. I also worked in Australia for about a year doing something similar—but not earthquake-related. Then I went to southern China from 2017 all the way to the outbreak of the virus. The type of things that I saw there were unbelievable. I was there during Donald Trump’s term in office, and the decline of the Chinese economy was absolutely amazing.
Garrit: With your experience working around the globe, what are some of your main takeaways from that experience?
Larry: Definitely having someone with a global, foreign policy—especially working in many diverse parts of the world— construction, and a teaching background is important. I was a life coach show— I taught adults— and we worked on everything from how to actually act as businessmen to how to deal with all the facets of life. When you are born in China, you are a product of the state—you do not have that opportunity to be an individual. So, when they grow older they want to know what on earth is going on outside of China? It’s so restrictive in China— there’s no freedom of the internet. So, when people graduate from high school, they really want to understand how the rest of the world operates. So, I help out on that. I think that this is a massive benefit for the commissioner’s office.
Garrit: Could you talk about what exactly a county commissioner does?
Larry: So, in the state of Texas all 254 counties act in the same way—in terms of how the counties govern. So, you have four Commissioners and a County Judge. The county judge is not a judicial judge— he is the CEO of the county. This is extremely important when people go and vote on who they elect as their next county judge because that person will ultimately guide the direction of the future of the county. They can also do things unilaterally— especially during a local declaration of a disaster. So, it is extremely important that we get good Commissioners and a good solid County Judge. We deal with everything from your county tax rate, the county hospital, and the appointments of the board members. We deal with the elections administration, bonds that go on the election, roads, bridges, and infrastructure. We deal with every single facet of the county government. So, people really have started to open up about just how important this is over time because of what happened during the shutdowns of 2020.
Garrit: Do County Commissioners have a say in lockdowns?
Larry: I believe during the lockdowns when the Governor gives orders to all 254 counties that a local disaster has been declared, we are an extension of the state. Austin gives the power to allow the county judge to do things unilaterally. So, the County Judge can act on shutting down businesses, telling people that occupancy can be 100 in this building, or everybody needs to wear a mask. There’s a lot of things that the County Judge doesn’t even have to go through with the commissioner’s office— from what I’ve seen here.
Garrit: You also have two other people running in this race— Manny Ramirez and Joe Johnson. Can you talk about your opponents and why people should vote for you?
Larry: In my race running for County Commissioner place 4 there are three of us total. The current incumbent has been there for 30 years. He is stepping down because he’s very old and ill. He basically has put his son up to run. I know his son doesn’t want to run but unfortunately, there are outside forces causing him to do this. I think that many people are yearning for change in terms of a candidate to lead county commissioner precinct 4. My opponents are good guys, but good guys don’t mean they’re going to be good for the county. Now, my other opponent (Manny Ramirez), we have done extensive research to make sure that we are 100% correct when we say this, but he’s hardly voted in his life. He just now started voting about three years ago because it seems like he knew that he was going to run for this position. So, I have voted more times absentee—while I was overseas—than he has in his entire career of voting. So, I think people should take that into consideration. If you’re trying to apply to be choir director, you at least have to go to church first. Plus, I have a plethora of backgrounds in many different facets of life. We’ve dealt with some budgets when working on these earthquake projects, and it’s been something that has led me into this. It has put me in this perfect position to be able to run and to be able to lead for this precinct.
Garrit: How would you describe your political philosophy?
Larry: I would definitely describe myself as a 100% true grassroots conservative. I would consider myself a constitutional conservative. I’m very socially and fiscally conservative. We’ve had things take place here in the county, recently, that these so-called “Republicans” do that Democrats would do. I’ll give you plenty of examples. So, we had statues removed here when we have a majority of Republicans on the commissioner’s court. Those statues or monuments that are dedicated to our ancestors and our history might be controversial, but removing things doesn’t erase history. I’ve lived in China, and I understand how cancel culture works. I’m trying to keep that crap out of here. They were afraid of offending the Black Lives Matter community— you had all five commissioners (including three “Republicans”) vote to remove a statue. I will never ever vote to remove a statue or a monument. Recently, Tarrant County voted to stop county pay for people who are sick with COVID if they did not get the vaccine. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on because the three Republicans voted for this, and the two Democrats voted against it—so it’s quite weird. The guy in my precinct is very old, and he doesn’t show up to the Commissioner’s Court. He hasn’t been there for about, I think, three years. He only comes via zoom. I will never do that to the county. If I’m in a position where I can no longer move and I can no longer breathe, I’m not going to suck the life out of this county and make taxpayer dollars pay for that kind of stuff. Yeah, it’s unfortunate that that stuff happens in life, but there is work that has to be done.
Garrit: What are some of the main issues that you’re seeing for your particular precinct?
Larry: So, Precinct 4 lags considerably behind on infrastructure. Infrastructure projects have not been good, to say the least. We lag the furthest behind compared to the other precincts. We lag maybe 10 or 15 years behind because they have been building nothing but homes and then they’ll stop after five years when they realize there’s these horse and carriage roads leading up to all these nice brand-new developments. By then it is too late to build new roads. I’m in unincorporated Tarrant County. So, we don’t have a municipality Fire Department. We rely on the county volunteer fire department. When you have a fire department that is more than 5 or 10 miles away, your insurance rates skyrocket. If there is a fire, the chances of your house surviving are going to be quite slim. In many parts of unincorporated precinct 4 it’s all land— so there is a higher probability of wildfires taking place. We only have one fire department with hardly anybody manning this volunteer fire department— that has to change. We need better people to fund this and at least get paid volunteers to come out here and fight these. Not only that, but we are lagging on volunteers for EMS. It’s going to take the sheriff’s deputies a long time just to get out here and provide services—especially medical services. We have a massive lake that eventually will need some kind of passage for us to get across because we’re growing so quickly. There’s been a lot of concerns because of what would happen if we did have an accident on this bridge and the tanker goes into the lake—because our lake is the hub of where water sources are distributed from.
Garrit: How do you plan to go about improving the infrastructure in your precinct?
Larry: So, we might have to have some assistance from the county and from the state legislature. We have a budget allocated strictly for this, but unfortunately, this hasn’t been put in motion. I want to immediately start working with county officials. There’s a group called North Central Texas Council of Governments, which I’m not really that big a fan of, that we could get some assistance from to help do some of these major projects. We would have to probably go through the County Administrator to go down to Austin to advocate for more money for infrastructure. So, the state legislature will definitely play a key role. If I do win this, I’m going to be very busy for the next five years due to the lack of movement from the previous Commissioner. There’s going to be a lot of stuff that I see that will have to be improved immediately. We’re going to have to do some tax cuts too because taxes are another thing that people are always complaining about. The first thing people care about is election integrity— then it’s taxes. So, within the county government, we oversee the county tax rate. We have an $800 million bond on our county hospital. A large percentage of people that use this county hospital are illegal aliens, criminals, and people who are forced to use this hospital. I don’t want to see tax dollars go to build up this Taj Mahal of a county hospital. There are some things that we’re going to have to cut. We’re going to have to make some tough decisions. What makes me really upset is they say, “you’re going to be voting on this $800 million hospital bond, and it’s going to be a no-tax-increase bond.” Mr. Blizzard, do you believe that’s a no-tax increase?
Garrit: Not really.
Larry: It makes me laugh. It makes me wonder how dumb do they think we are? You’re still paying interest on that bond. You’re paying either a .33%, or a .17%, but it’s not tax-free. We shouldn’t have the taxpayer foot the bill for something like this. So, I think we could take cuts out of looking at something within JPS hospital. I’ve talked to so many conservative people that voted against this thing. I’ve hardly come in contact with anybody that voted for this. One thing that always fools people is the “no tax increase bond.” I think people have got to wake up when it comes to “no tax increase bonds” because that sounds so damn dumb.
Garrit: Now, my understanding of how municipal governments work is a little shoddy, but I’m of the understanding that a lot of the county government is funded primarily through property taxes. Am I correct?
Larry: Yes. When you pay taxes, you’re mostly paying into five different entities: county tax, local hospital tax (if you’re an urban county), school tax, water tax, and city tax. Now, if you live in an unincorporated area, then you’re only paying in the four entities in Tarrant County. If you live in a rural county, then your taxes are going to be even lower. Most people are trying to figure out what we can do to do that? Can we get tax relief, because anybody that’s a conservative Republican wants to do a tax rebate— there is no doubt about that. Nobody should be paying school taxes into a school that they totally disagree with— especially with these woke policies. We don’t necessarily deal with the school tax, but I want to be the biggest pressure pusher on these guys for us to at least get some type of form of school choice. If we get school choice, we’re going to cut down on a lot of problems that we face. At the same time, though, how are we going to actually issue out all these different funds to people when we have school choice? I went down to Austin, as you were talking about, and spoke to the Texas Public Policy Foundation. That was the biggest thing on the agenda—. we want to get school choice passed. One thing that we do have control over in the county is the county tax rate. When we do appoint the JPS board members, we can, at least, approve of that tax rate that they have within JPS.
Garrit: Property taxes are another big issue. You have a lot of people who want to see it lowered, but you also have people that want to see it totally abolished. What is your take on the issue?
Larry: So, I hear all the gubernatorial candidates talking about abolishing property taxes within the state of Texas. It sounds so nice, and it’s ultimately going to affect every county in Texas if we go down that road. What the question is though, and I hear Don Huffines talking about abolishing property taxes, is where do we go from there? Huffines says we’re not going to have a state income tax; well, that’s great and all, but then are we going to go to a massive consumer tax? It seems like goods and commodities are already at an all-time high. Where are we going to have taxes increased because we can’t just say we’re going to eliminate property tax and then it’s done and dusted? There has to be a replacement for that. So, I’m very curious to see where that’s going to go. If we do have a new governor that is about phasing out the property tax, then I’m going to have to see the plan first. We’re already one of the top in the nation for property tax. Maybe we got to look at some of these other models that they have around the country. It sounds great to me, but I want to see the plan first. I know some people that have had their taxes doubled within the past 10 years. This is not right—especially for elderly people who are just trying to survive.
Garrit: Do you have any thoughts on the governor’s race?
Larry: I have a few thoughts. I don’t like what Governor Greg Abbott has been doing at the border. That has been a massive problem. I truly believe there is so much more that we can do on the local and state that the federal government should never intervene in. We shouldn’t allow the federal government to have full jurisdiction over the border. How many times in our life are we going to have such a worthless administration up at DC? This is unacceptable. We don’t even know who’s leading the country. I’ve knocked on 1000s of doors, and nobody is pumped up about this election because they’re like “we got this election stolen from us.” Election integrity is a huge issue—it even comes above property taxes. I have a plan in Tarrant County to stop this now. Is it going to cost extra time when we do elections? Yes. But ultimately, if we’re going to stop voter fraud, we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions as well. In Tarrant County, we have an elections administrator who is from Venezuela. He’s worked in several other places such as the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. He then worked in Lake Tahoe, California, and then they recruited him to come to Tarrant County, Texas. Now, I don’t know if this was just a major coincidence that Tarrant County turned blue when he got here or if this was something in the making, but people have lost a lot of hope with our system. What I want to do is reform the way that we elect the county elections administrator and how we deal with fraud. So, we have a five-person panel in Tarrant County that appoints the elections administrator. This panel consists of the Republican Chair, the Democratic chair, the County Judge, the Treasurer, and the County Clerk— sometimes it is alternated out with the Sheriff. I think that we should put the power back in the people’s hands and have a five-person panel consisting of precinct chairs and a precinct judge elected by the people. I think this will put a little bit of hope and confidence in the people knowing that we are actually electing the people to hire and fire the elections administrator.
Garrit: Are there any specific ways in which you’ve seen the situation at the border affect Tarrant County?
Larry: Absolutely! Highway 35, which runs straight from, I believe, Laredo and runs up here through Tarrant County. We can take some serious action and we have, but we need to have other forces to push us into a more positive direction. Right now, we have a program in Tarrant County—I think 26 out of 254 participate in this— that allows sheriff’s deputies to be trained to act as ICE members to detain illegal aliens that commit high misdemeanors and felonies out of the country. So, if you are an illegal alien and you’ve been documented as someone that has committed a crime, we could start the deportation process. Now, I want this policy in place indefinitely— I don’t even want an annual review. I want this to be in place where we don’t even have to talk about it. I’m strong on border security, I’m pro-police, and I want to back the sheriff’s department as hardcore as possible. We need law enforcement, and we need the DHS office to be fully funded with all the necessary resources they need to combat the growing rate of crime. I will never cut any of these two offices. In fact, we need a boost. I’m all about police, and I’m all about giving them the firepower needed to prevent us from becoming like Travis, Dallas, Harris, or Bexar County. I’m trying to stop that and make sure that we keep ourselves in the right place. These woke city councils don’t want me to become the next Commissioner because I’m really conservative. I represent my base quite well in precinct four. If the city council members and the mayor don’t like me, then you know that I’m a good person for this job.
Garrit: Stopping CRT is one of the issues on your website. Can you talk a little bit about how you would go about taking on critical race theory in the schools?
Larry: So, I’ve been up at Fort Worth ISD— which is one of the largest employers in the state of Texas and one of the wokest school boards in the entire state. I have fought against those guys; I go up there and I’ve witnessed all the mayhem that happens. One thing that I have proposed is that when these school boards start doing things that are very bad for the general population, we will start doing full audits. I have pledged as a county commissioner that I will do everything in my power to do audits on these schools and contact the local state representative in that district to do full audits as well. We need to put extreme pressure on these board members. At Keller ISD, every single board member is woke— except for one. That one board member is going to be backed up by some really conservative guys come 2023. We will have candidates that will run against those people. With pornography being in the school libraries, this has been something quite serious. I thought it was something not real until I saw it with my own eyes, and it was disgusting. Our woke teachers, librarians, and superintendents all want to see how fast we can get down to Hell. They want to try to groom our students, and they want our students to start questioning their sexuality. They want kids to start questioning that when they’re 10 years old. They do this by grooming them with books in the libraries. Parents haven’t been paying attention, but they are now paying attention at full speed. I’ve never seen so many angry parents come into a school board meeting. They’re coming in there with pitchforks, and they’re ready to start taking action. With me living in China, I understand how this woke system goes—you groom kids from two years old all the way to high school. You groom them to hate their country, to disrespect their parents, and to be secular. This young generation is going to rise up and they’re going to turn this place blue in 5 or 10 years. I’m going to make a lot of people upset, but it’s going to upset the really bad people. I’m going to make all the good people very happy.
Garrit: Do you have any final things to say as we conclude the interview?
Larry: If anybody wants to help out or if they want to check out my campaign, they can go to carpenterforcommissioner.com. They can also check us out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They can help by volunteering, requesting a yard sign, or donating. My campaign’s ground game is absolutely amazing for the amount of funding we have. I am truly getting in contact with so many people. If we could get some more support financially, that would be great. But thank you for having me. It has been really great.
Garrit Blizzard is the Editor-In-Chief of The Texas Horn. He is a senior studying government at the University of Texas at Austin. Garrit enjoys reading, listening to music, and discussing politics and economics.