A former Navy fighter pilot in Lakewood wants to be the neighborhood’s next representative for District 107 in the Texas House.

When Joe Ruzicka was growing up in Casa Linda, seeing the Blue Angels fly over Carswell Air Force Base at the age of 12 hooked him on being a pilot.

He moved to Crandall, where he graduated high school, and then attended the U.S. Naval Academy. He flew F-14 and F-18 jets for the Navy for 20 years, retiring as a lieutenant commander in 2016. He was a “back seater” in the jets, “like Goose from ‘Top Gun,’ ” he says.

During his career, he flew missions from Japan to monitor North Korea and from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. He entered the political world when he worked for Arizona Sen. John McCain as a defense fellow, advising the Senator, also a veteran, on defense policy. “It was a great experience,” he says. “I was able to understand how government works at that level.”

Ruzicka, who has two children at Lakewood Elementary, says he is passionate about making sure the state funds public schools so that Dallas doesn’t have to raise its property taxes to make up for gaps in funding. He hopes to make changes to the formulas used to fund public schools and help the district be more efficient with the money it has.

The candidate wants to encourage small businesses to start and grow. “They are the backbone of the community,” he says. “We want local dollars to stay in the local community, where small business owners have a vested interest.”

Ruzicka is in the Republican primary against Lochwood neighbor Brad Perry and Deanna Metzger. Metzger’s residency in District 107 is in doubt after a WFAA report questioned whether she lives in the district. “Metzger is more of a tea-party, hard-right candidate,” Ruzicka says. “I am more of a person that wants to be collaborative. I tell my kids to be a good listener, to listen to understand not necessarily reply.”

He believes he has the experience needed to represent the area, which he says Perry lacks. “Brad has some good ideas, but I have more experience dealing with people and am more seasoned,” he says. Ruzicka was a member of Leadership Dallas, a leadership development program run by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, and received an endorsement from the Dallas Morning News.

The winner of the primary will face incumbent Victoria Neave, the freshmen legislator of the year for the Texas Democrats, who knocked off Kenneth Sheets two years ago and had a DWI in the neighborhood last year. “I flew an F-14, a $50 million dollar jet, and brought it back safely. If I can do that, then folks can trust me down in Austin,” Ruzicka says.

“I think we need to have good people in Austin representing District 107. My objective is to represent everyone,” he says. “My life is a life of service. This is a way to continue my service as a citizen.”

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