Editorial note: This is the tenth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <email@example.com>.
Kenneth Kendrick, Green candidate for Agriculture Commissioner
Texpatriate: What is your name?
KK: Kenneth Kendrick
T: What office are you seeking?
KK: Texas Agriculture Commissioner.
T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
KK: Proud to say none, nor do I intend to seek a higher office upon winning this one.
T: What is your political party?
KK: Green Party
T: What is your position on hemp production in Texas?
KK: Initially, before seeking office, I was not 100% sure I was for hemp production. Once I became a candidate and started really researching the subject, I am now 100% for the production of hemp and legalization of marijuana for several reasons.
1) It requires less water to grow than many other crops and we are in the middle of a drought, with many more to come due to climate change.
2) Many people have turned to using the deadly “synthetic pot” and have died or suffered permanent brain damage.
3) Hemp requires less pesticide that other crops, thus helping save water contamination.
4) Economically it would be a big boost to the Texas economy.
5) Legalization would reduce our overcrowded and expensive prison population, and make room for real criminals.
6) Recent studies aired on CNN and many other networks showed that states that have legalized pot have seen a reduction of pain killer overdoses, where they have never seen and over dose of marijuana.
T: What changes, if any, do you believe Texas should make to its School Lunch program?
KK: I would like for the schools to have more local control over the program and for them to “buy Texas” so to speak (meaning buy as much food as possible from Texas.) I would also like to see a much stronger focus on the nutrition education aspect of the Program.
T: What is your position on the ongoing efforts to improve water conservation in the State?
KK: I support the EPA’s plan on wetlands conservation (unlike the Republican Party) as this will ensure water for Central and West Texas, as the saying goes, “we all live down stream.”
Although many on the conservative side say that there land rights are being impeded as they own everything under their property, I find that does not make sense. For example the aquifer that waters the cotton where I live starts in Colorado, so using that logic, if the 1st person who owns land at the upper end of the aquifer wants to use all that water and leave nothing for downstream that would be OK under the Republican theory. Many cities have water conservation in place such as watering lawns only during late evening to early morning, which I believe should be statewide. I also support the Environment Texas legislative agenda (hyper linked) which has many real specific ideas. I also oppose hydraulic fracking as it both drains out water and pollutes our water.
T: What do you think the role of the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture should be?
KK: As this Department has 10 divisions, this is a multi-role Executive Branch position. The Commissioner’s role should include promoting what I would like to see as a “buy Texas” program as the Commissioner should be promoting buying Texas Agriculture products for economic development. The Commissioner also should ensure that the entire Dept (and should set the example) is fairly ensuring consumer protection in all weights and measures (such as gas pumps.) Current employees tell me this is not being done fairly depending on the size of the company! I will not list all 10 areas, but in Summary the Commissioner should be promoting Texas business, ensuring consumer protections, and leading Dept. employees to ensure the laws are enforced ethically.
T: What is one thing that you would continue over from Commissioner Todd Staples’ administration? What is one thing you would not or change?
KK: I believe the author meant for the 2nd part of the question to be what is the one thing you would not change? I disagree with Mr. Staples on many things, but I do like his Go Texan marketing program and would like to enhance or continue that marketing strategy.
T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
KK: Well when it comes to Mr. Hogan, who knows? He has said very little to nothing and made a mockery of the office. Mr. Miller is talking about issues that have nothing to do with TDA. For example on his web site he proclaims “Fighting for families and religious freedoms Sid Miller cut $64 million dollars from Planned Parenthood and passed the Sonogram Bill. He also list “Protecting our 2nd amendment rights an avid rancher and hunter, Sid Miller believes in the Constitutional right to bear arms.” It does not matter if you agree or disagree with these issues; they have nothing to do with being AG Commissioner. I do not know if it is because he is seeking higher office, or if it is that Mr. Miller just wants to avoid dealing with the issues that are pertinent to the office. Why me? Unlike all my opponents, I do not own any business that would benefit me personally when elected (such as being a rancher,) Of course someone who owns a business wants to be the one in charge of the laws that over see that business. I am not a career Politian, I am known for my integrity as a Whistle Blower, and I will bring strong ethical values back to the office, and will not have any conflict of interest that would cloud my judgment as the Commissioner has to balance economic development with consumer protection. I am the only candidate talking about multiple issues that are relevant to the office. I also worked for the TX. Dept of Human Services for 8 year, working my way up to Assistant to the Program Manager. I have a better understanding on how to run a State agency than my opposition. I have also worked as a Pest Control Tech. and a Food Testing lab, areas my opposition is not as familiar with. It is one thing to own your own ranch, it is much different to head an executive branch agency.
T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
KK: 1) Food Safety – I want Texas to be known as the safest place for producers to buy from thus not only keeping people safe, but also increasing our economic viability.
2) Corporate Accountability- After Blowing the Whistle on Peanut Corp of America, it was discovered that 355 facilities had never registered with the Dept of Health, thus breaking the law, none were fined. All Agencies must work together to ensure this does not happen again (Peanut Corp had TX Dept of Ag Organic Certification, but was not even Registered with the Texas Dept. of Health. Had the Dept. of Ag had done its job properly on any one of its three inspections, lives would have been saved. Here is a Hyperlink to the Story.
3) Finding, stopping, and referring for prosecution those that commit fraud waste and abuse in both Government and Corporate settings. Employees will have an open door straight to me on that issue, and I have already heard plenty of employees tell me, in confidence, that these problems exist. As far as what I have done. Since being known as a Whistle Blower I have traveled the country with the Government Accountability Project speaking at Universities on Ethics and Whistle Blowing all over the country. I have tried to keep the public up to date via social media on food recalls, and worked closely with the FDA to ensure Peanut Corp of America went to trial.