Scott Sanford recently won the local two-pastor race in the Republican primary to become McKinney's next state representative in Austin and faces no opposition on the ballot in the November general election.
The conservative's priority in office will be finding more money for teaching.
How conservative is Sanford? The Conservative Republicans of Texas endorsed him in District 70 because he is "the pro-life, pro-family, pro-gun, anti-tax, free enterprise conservative in the race."
Sanford serves as executive pastor of Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church in Allen, which has one of the bigger congregations in the area. The church started in Fairview, Texas, as First Baptist before moving to a convenient location on the McKinney-Allen border.
A CPA with business degrees from Baylor, Sanford describes his job at Cottonwood Creek as business pastor. He plans to take his financial background to Austin to discover better ways to fund education while trimming excesses in the state budget.
"We are paying $750,000 for a cracked egg inspector," Sanford said. "When I see that, I ask, how many teaching jobs is that?"
Sanford points to state taxpayers' money spent on a fertilizer commissioner as one of a few places to start.
He also said being a pastor has prepared him for making tough decisions. He expects a fight from Democrats and moderate Republicans over some important items.
"I have a tough skin," Sanford said. "People's perceptions may be that what we do as pastors is all soft and nice, but we help people in church and in the community deal with some very difficult problems [with their health, finances, family and so on].
"It is not just delivering the 'good news' each week in church," Sanford said. "The key word is effectiveness. I want to do all that I can to be effective at church, and I will carry that with me to represent the people and families in this district when I go to Austin."
When church leaders turned in budgets over the last couple of years, Sanford had to tell some their program would have to wait.
"It has been difficult during the recession, and we have had to say 'No' to some very important and good programs that would help people," Sanford said. "Times are tight, and we just don't have the money for everything. When it comes to Austin, we need to be scaling back programs to reprioritize how we spend the taxpayers' money. The fertilizer commissioner - that needs to go, and that is just the beginning. When we look at these state programs, we have to ask, 'How many teaching jobs is that?' "
Sanford wants big government out of the classroom. He said school districts in Collin County have earned the right to have fewer restrictions and guidelines in the classroom.
"Not all school districts across the state have earned that right," Sanford said. "Because of our conservative ideas of limited government, we want to champion the cause of unleashing teachers in the classroom. Let them teach. We have good, caring teachers. We need to free them up from teaching state-mandated tests. Only the teacher in the classroom can really know what it takes to get the kids to do their best. ... Not some bureaucrat in Austin."
Sanford plans to continue working as executive pastor while serving in the state house of representatives.
"The church has graciously agreed to allow me a working sabbatical during the legislative session," Sanford said.
In the state house, he replaces Ken Paxton, who won his primary race for state senate. Paxton ran for speaker of the house to bring a more conservative hand to picking chairmen in legislative committees.
"We are going to have a speaker's race, and we will vote for the best person to represent our district," Sanford said.
Paxton endorsed Sanford just before Election Day.
"One of Ken's jobs is to recruit competent people to run for office," Sanford said. "We were hoping to get his endorsement, but we did not know it was going to come about. We were very delighted to have it."
Sanford said he is just beginning to settle down after months of campaigning.
"Every day you are up early and out on the campaign, and then there is Election Day, and the campaign is suddenly gone," he said. "Now, I have a lot more work to do. I will be studying everything I can to get ready for when we go back to Austin for the legislative session."
Sanford said his opponent (also a pastor from McKinney) ran a strong race.
"Bracy Wilson is a warrior," Sanford said of the founder of Stonebridge Church. "He showed me he is a hard worker, and he fights for what he believes in every day. You have to respect those attributes. He called me the night of the election, and he gave me a classy and gracious phone call."
Sanford said he will listen to those with less conservative views. He said conservative values are an important reason why North Texas and Collin County have been growing.
"There will be time for relationship building, and I'm keeping the doors open," Sanford said. "Before I hit the ground running, I have to study, plan and prepare. Representing our district in Austin comes with an obligation of leadership and responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required."
Notable: At the next McKinney tea party meeting, district judge Mark Rusch will be presenting the first in a series of talks on the Federalist papers at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 19. The McKinney tea party meets at the Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church off the Sam Rayburn Tollway and State Highway 121 service road between Stacy Road and Lake Forest Drive (Watters Road in Allen).
Scott Sanford on race, road ahead
Scott Sanford on Ken Paxton
TownSquareBuzz interviews during campaign