Author’s Note: The following quotes and information are taken from an interview conducted via zoom on 2/24/23
You are either a patriot or a traitor.
At least, that’s how Larry Dale Carpenter Jr. sees it.
Carpenter, a former candidate for Tarrant County Commissioner, is running for Tarrant County College Trustee District 4 (TCCD). He is running against three other people, including the incumbent William Greenhill.
Greenhill started his first term in 2010 and didn’t face any opponents in his last election. Carpenter says Greenhill doesn’t represent the values of Tarrant County.
“This guy, he has voted to raise the tax rate. He’s also on board with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board, which specifically hires people based on race and not merit,” Carpenter says.
Elections for TCCD are nonpartisan, however, Carpenter describes himself as a social and fiscal conservative.
“There’s no such thing as a nonpartisan race,” Carpenter argues.
“Tarrant County is conservative…but this board does not represent [any] Tarrant County values. This is something you would find on the West Coast.”
One of Carpenter’s top priorities is eliminating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, which he describes as “Taxpayer-funded racism.”
Carpenter joins a growing movement of pushback against DEI practices in higher education around the country. He says eliminating the DEI Board at Tarrant County College could also free up about $400,000 from the budget.
Carpenter also says he is opposed to race-based hiring practices.
“That is not how we’re going to grow as a county, a state, or a country. We need to have people that are hired strictly based upon merit and their qualification,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter, who has experience working around the world in places like China, Australia, and New Zealand, says the Tarrant County College Board is acting similarly to left-wing governments.
“These guys who sit on the board have not just taken a page out of the Communist Manifesto,” Carpenter says, “they have taken the full book.”
Carpenter says Tarrant County College should focus on graduating high-quality students that spread their knowledge around the world and understand history and economics. Carpenter is also concerned about finances and enrollment. Carpenter says enrollment is down over 20% over 10 years.
“How is that even possible?”
Tarrant County has seen immense growth in its population, but Carpenter says enrollment is down around 10,000 students from where the college was 10 years ago. According to Data USA, which tracks Tarrant County College District enrollment numbers between 2012 and 2020, Tarrant County College District has seen a decrease in total enrollment–particularly between 2019 and 2020. In 2019, the total enrollment was 50,519 students, and the total enrollment in 2020 was 43,000 students.
Carpenter says another alarming statistic is taxpayers foot up to 60% of the total bill for Tarrant County College. He says that is above average as the average for community college districts across the state is 40%, with as little as 10%. Carpenter also took issue with an $825 million bond approved in 2019, asking “Why do we need that.”
Carpenter says money should, at least, be spent on maintaining current facilities, as more students opt to take courses online, and retaining high quality professors. Carpenter says more bureaucracy is not the answer.
“They pump in all this money to build up this Taj Mahal of all these districts across Tarrant County just to waste money.”
Carpenter says the board is inept and only works on behalf of the administration, not the taxpayers. If elected, Carpenter stated he plans to meet with the Chancellor, currently Dr. Elva LeBlanc, and discuss his conservative plan for Tarrant County College. He hopes to join the other conservative on the board, Shannon Wood. Wood has endorsed Carpenter in his race.
Carpenter says his role will be that of a protester.
“We’re going to make our voice extremely loud, we’re going to be heard, and we’re going to let them know that [they’re] in a red county.”
Carpenter also plans to challenge every person who brings up “divisive” and “hateful” programs. Carpenter cited DEI as one of those programs. Carpenter says neither side of the board is talking one-on-one with the chancellor.
“I think they’re just listening to the administration, and the administration is putting out all of these budgets.”
The election is on May 6th, and Carpenter says he is the one to best represent the values of Tarrant County for TCCC District 4 and solve what he describes as “ineptitude” on the board.
“If we have someone like me with the energy, strength, and stamina, we can bring this to light and really make them change the trajectory that they’re on and bring the ship in a different direction.”