Independent candidate Clifford “Clif” Deuvall, a disabled Vietnam War veteran and former teacher is seeking election to the Texas House of Representatives for District 56, an area that includes most of Waco and the surrounding communities.
What type of person is Clif Deuvall? Simply put, even his foes find him to be a very likeable, agreeable person. Easy to approach, very easy to talk to, Clif can strike up a conversation with anyone on just about any subject. He’s the type that will talk about nearly anything he’s experienced, with the exception of 3D movies, as he jokes about a person with only one eye not being able to watch them. I assure him he’s not missing out on much.
Another thing he isn’t bashful about is talking about his views and has stated that he wants to take this particular personality trait with him to the capitol, being tired of politicians telling people only what is convenient. This is particularly troubling as we’ve seen in an unfolding presidential race where candidates have been pandering to voters rather than discussing issues of great importance.
While talking with Clif one can feel a deep burning passion. It can be heard in his voice, and seen in his body language. In fact if you touch on a subject that he is particularly enamored with, he can talk for hours about it. This passion drives more than just conversation though; Clif has used it to propel him throughout his life it seems.
While he’s just your average guy trying to carve out his own little place in the world, he has taken bold steps to ensure that not only is his life made better off by his actions, but that the lives of others are made better off as well. Here is his story:
While serving in the Air Force during the 70’s Clif served on many special projects including the F16 program. During his time of service he ended up making a major sacrifice in which he was injured, losing an eye and having parts of his body hurt so badly that he still suffers from the injuries to this day. Upon getting out of the service, he began working for various aircraft companies but would ultimately go on to graduate Baylor University with a Bachelor’s of Science, and follow up with a Master’s at Tarleton.
Upon graduation Clif sought to be a leader in his community by sharing his knowledge and helping children through teaching high school where he taught government, primarily constitutional law, and economics, focusing on macro-economics and the economic costs of social issues. He would later go on to become an instructor coordinator at Baylor University.
During his college years he was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and was a Merit Honors Society Scholar. As a teacher he attained a lifetime Geography Certification, was awarded the Texas Senate Commendation Teacher of the Year at AJ Moore academy, and Outstanding Honors Educator.
Having become 100% disabled in 2005, Clif’s life was dramatically altered as pain became a daily struggle. With only the VA prescribed Methadone to turn to, a highly dangerous drug used for pain management, his quality of life was taken from him as he felt drugged all of the time, in a haze, unable to function well, confined to his bed for long durations, and unable to spend much time with his family. Clif knew that if he wanted to get his quality of life back, he would need to seek an alternative way.
Having researched his conditions and alternative treatments he discovered that cannabis was an effective substitute and decided to give it a try. The effects were felt immediately as his pain levels were much better managed, he was able to spend time with his family again, and he no longer needed the methadone that took his quality of life. After a wrist surgery, he used a topical cream made from cannabis to help heal his wrist. There was only one problem though; this naturally growing plant that helped him manage his ailments is illegal and classified by the federal government as having no medicinal properties.
Upon learning about and realizing just how well his new treatment was working for him, Clif approached his doctors at the VA about the use of cannabis as medicine. They all agreed that cannabis was the best medicine for his injuries, but since it is illegal to possess they could not prescribe it to him and were not supposed to recommend he consume it. It was at this point Clif realized that he needed to get politically active.
He began by contacting all of his representatives, both at the state level, and federal. The majority of the responses he got back were pre-fabricated, impersonal letters stating the alleged dangerousness of cannabis and that it was classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug, which means that it has no medicinal value.
Not to be deterred Clif pressed on, continuing to contact his representatives by mail and phone, researching and presenting them studies about the medical qualities of cannabis. He went to great lengths demonstrating that the plant is non-toxic, meaning that it is impossible to overdose on the plant and further showing that no one has ever died from consuming it.
Getting a few somewhat personal responses here and there, he began visiting their offices where he would meet with them face to face. The responses he got ranged from indifferent to heartless and defiant. Clif realized that he was dealing with a symptom that has been plaguing American politics for quite some time now, that our politicians are largely concerned only for themselves and the agenda of their biggest backers, not the agenda of the American people. This meant that in order to make a significant impact, he was going to have to stop standing on the sidelines and start getting his hands dirty.
He began visiting with his representatives on a regular basis, writing, calling, and in person; contacting the president several times as well. He attended political events and asked questions to candidates, did his research, and became a fixture in state politics to the point where all of his representatives knew him by sight and name.
In 2009 Clif established NORML of Waco, a cannabis advocacy outreach group whose goals were to educate the public on the scientific facts of cannabis, promote political activism by teaching people how to contact their representatives and how the legislative process works, as well as helping out in the community through events, food and clothing drives, and highway cleanups. Since then Clif has been traveling not just through the state, but the country giving speeches and lectures on cannabis and other important political subjects, ranging in venue from college campuses to major rallies.
It was in 2011 that Clif decided that even more needed to be done. Recognizing that entrenched politicians cared very little for no one else but themselves and the special interests that back them, as well as the inadequate selection of politicians running for office, he began to plan his own run for office.
When asked why he would not seek the nomination of a party, his response was that representing the people of Texas is a service and a privilege, that the agenda of the people must be upheld over the agenda of a party, and anything worthwhile isn’t easily done. He makes it clear that you don’t have to be a millionaire to serve the people, and that there will be more common sense in politics when people who face the harsh economic and social realities of everyday life are elected, being that current politicians are so disconnected from the average person on the street. He wants to know what he can do for you rather than the special interests, that he will not be bought.
Since he has opted to run as an Independent, the qualifications for making the ballot in Texas are different from that of a party candidate, who automatically qualifies for the ballot. An Independent must first file with the state secretary and declare their intent to run. Then the candidate must wait until the Texas primary is concluded on May 29th. Once the primary is over, they have exactly thirty days to collect 500 signatures from registered voters who did not vote in the primaries. Once the signatures have been certified, the candidate qualifies for the ballot in November.
When asked to give a rough understanding of what his platform would be, he stated his main concerns once he is elected to office will be the care of veterans, education, medical access to cannabis, upholding state’s rights and keeping the federal government in check, sensible taxation, helping Texas agriculture through hemp legalization, upholding gun rights, decreasing incarceration rates, drug harm reduction, better transportation, implementation of a state ballot initiative, a more efficient legislature, imposing transparency and accountability, and helping local communities.
He then went into more detail on several subjects:
“People are not made for war” Clif states. “We must ensure that when a person makes sacrifices for their country that they and their family are taken care of.” He stresses that veterans must have better access to healthcare, medicine, and job opportunities. Once elected, he will ensure that the state of Texas upholds its commitments to veterans.
Having been in the education system, he wants to bring his experience to the table as an educator and administrator to help reform Texas’ education. He has reiterated many times that he opposes any decreases to education budgets, stating that not only must the funds be better managed, including a lot more transparency, but that the state lottery funds should never be redirected away from education. An advocate of school vouchers, he wants parents to have more control over where their children go to school, and that the competition created by this system will increase the quality of education.
“Every student deserves the best education that we can provide them,” Clif states. This means schools implementing more special education programs and more effective targeting so that special needs students aren’t left behind and also aren’t hindering other students since not all students learn at the same pace. It also means teaching more real world skills that will help a student throughout their lives, including personal finances, critical thinking, and flexible options for academic advancement through high school. He also wants to implement more apprenticeship programs, as well as college level courses.
He also seeks tougher requirements for moving from grade to grade, that a student should not progress until they have mastered the material. On the chopping block are standardized tests, which have been proven to be a failure, where he favors tailored end of course exams given by teachers to judge whether or not a student has mastered the material.
Being that so far 16 other states as well as Washington, DC have implemented medical marijuana programs, Clif is determined to establish such a program in Texas so that those suffering from medical conditions can have access to cannabis rather than force those patients to move to another state, which has a negative effect on the Texas economy. There is a treasure trove of studies showing the medicinal properties of cannabis, and withholding this medicine from patients who are in dire need of it is cruel and simply makes no sense. Having lost two sons already to cancer who suffered greatly due to the antiquated marijuana laws, and being a patient himself, Clif has a personal stake in bringing about reforms to cannabis laws.
Upholding state’s rights through the 10th Amendment, Clif advocates for the federal government to be constrained by the constitution. Having taught constitutional law, he has a vast amount of knowledge concerning where the role of the federal government ends, and the role of the state begins. As a representative of the people of Texas, he will fight to ensure that the rights of Texans as a whole are not infringed upon.
Taxation is a strong subject in Texas. When taxes are collected, it isn’t always considered who they could adversely affect. Having to live on a fixed income, Clif understands what it’s like to be squeezed by ever increasing costs of living, which are spurred on by both direct and indirect taxation. He has stated that he will never support a tax increase without ensuring that it is absolutely necessary, and will work to reduce taxes anywhere possible through audit and review of state agencies. He opposes the income tax, wants to get rid of Texas’ addiction to federal funds and the strings attached to them, and promote common sense frugality.
Texas has always been a major agricultural state and right now our farmers and ranchers are hurting. To help ease economic burdens and breathe new life into Texas agriculture, he proposes legalizing the growing of hemp, a durable plant that has many benefits including soil aeration, it has at many points in history been encourage by the government for farmers to grow. Not only will growing this plant be a boon to Texas agriculture by creating new jobs and opportunities, but instead of importing the hemp material from other countries, we can produce it locally and become a major exporter.
When it comes to upholding gun rights, Clif is on the front lines for his support of gun owners. Being a member of the National Rifle Association, he is a long time gun owner and supports the right for people to conceal carry and defend themselves from harm. This includes support for allowing properly licensed gun owners to carry on public college campuses and allowing private colleges to implement their own rules for carry. When it comes to elementary and high school, he supports allowing teachers and administrators to conceal carry, but implementation of such a policy must be done properly so that a student is never able to access a firearm on campus.
Drug Usage & Incarceration Rates
Decreasing the harms of drugs and incarceration rates go hand in hand for Clif as he proposes focusing on getting help for non-violent drug users instead of sending them to prison where they will be influenced by much worse and potentially come out less well off. Also on his platform is his opposition to private prisons, which have an incentive to get as many people behind bars as possible with little concern for better prison systems and lower costs to tax payers.
If you’ve ever traveled down a Texas road or highway, you’ve noticed the poor condition they’re in, the traffic congestions, and the seemingly never ending construction that moves at a snail’s pace. Roads and highways are an essential part of ensuring Texas’s economic future and as a state representative Clif vows to do everything he can to ensure that roads and highways are built better, faster, and cheaper while allowing the private sector to compete as well. He does however oppose allowing foreign countries having control over toll roads.
Also on his agenda is to have high speed rail lines built across Texas to improve both commercial and leisure travel.
Empowering Texans Legislatively
When it comes to giving voters more control over the political process, Clif wants to ensure that people have all the proper access and tools needed to have a voice and be efficient. He wants to ensure that it is easy for people to contact their representatives and that they don’t receive cookie cutter responses. One of the main ways he seeks to empower Texans is by introducing a voter ballot initiative where citizens can draft legislation and collect signatures to have an issue presented on the ballot to voters each election. This way Texans are no longer chained to a legislature that convenes only once every two years and tends to get very little accomplished.
Speaking on the subject of a slow and inefficient legislature, it will be Clif’s mission to ensure that more legislation is talked about and given adequate attention so that the needs of Texans can be properly addressed in a timely manner.
Helping Local Communities
Once in office Clif plans to seek out as many state grants as he can in order to get new projects started locally. Ideally he’d like to ensure that everyone has the ability to access quality internet connections, as well as places to enhance their job skills to help improve the abilities of the Texas workforce.
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