A Wimberley teenager has created a petition asking Hays County Judge candidate Will Conley to withdraw his support of the National Rifle Association, an appeal Conley says is an attempt by his opponents to distract voters.
In early June, Wimberley High School junior Gabi Perez started a Change.org petition calling for Conley to disassociate from the NRA, writing in the description that “students in Hays County are terrified to go to school.” A press conference was held on the grounds of the Hays County Courthouse in San Marcos June 8 to announce the petition.
The petition description asks that Conley refuse any donations from the group and remove all “supportive” mentions from his campaign website. While only naming Conley specifically, it also asks that all candidates running for office in Hays County do the same.
However, Conley said he has never received donations from the NRA.
“My honest opinion is this is a desperate ploy from my opponents to try to distract citizens from the real issues of the county,” Conley said in an email.
Perez did not make herself available for comment. In the spring, she and other students reached out to Jordan Buckley, who has been involved in media-outreach for local progressive causes. He helped the students publicize the petition and walkout, when they organized an anti-gun violence protests, one of many held at high schools nationwide in March.
“(The) NRA is a repugnant lobby that makes our schools (and) neighborhoods less safe by fiercely fighting common-sense reform (and) I fervently believe Conley, or any other local candidate who might publicly support or take money from that heinous group, deserves to be held accountable,” Buckley said in an email.
Buckley provided no evidence that Conley had ever accepted NRA donations, and said the petition was not accusing him of accepting such funds; “the real question” was whether or not Conley would pledge to refuse money from the group in the future, Buckley said in an email.
According to Conley, he helped implement a county-wide school safety system in 2013 that Governor Greg Abbott praised during a May visit to San Marcos, where the governor announced a new school safety plan in the wake of the Santa Fe shootings.
“School safety is paramount to me,” Conley said. “I will always ensure that this remains one of our highest priorities.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, 189 people had signed the online petition, and Conley’s website still listed him as a member of the NRA.