John Otto

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John Clifford Otto

Texas State Representative
for District 18 (Liberty, San Jacinto,
and Walker counties)
Assumed office 
January nuary 10, 2017
Preceded by Daniel Parker "Dan" Ellis
Succeeded by Ernest James Bailes, IV

Born October 14, 1948
Dayton, Liberty County
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Whitman Otto (married 1969)
Children Bryan Otto

Jason Otto
Three grandchildren

Residence Dayton, Texas
Alma mater Dayton (Texas) High School

Texas A&M University

Occupation Certified Public Accountant
Religion United Methodist

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army based at Fort Benjamin Harrison
Rank Second lieutenant finance officer

John Clifford Otto (born October 14, 1948) is a retired Certified Public Accountant residing in Bryan, Texas, who from 2005 to 2017 was a Republican state representative for District 18, which encompasses Liberty, San Jacinto, and Walker counties. At the time, he resided in his native Dayton in Liberty County.[1]


Otto graduated in 1966 from Dayton High School and in 1970 procured his Bachelor of Business Administration accounting degree from Texas A&M University in College Station. In his senior year, he was the head drum major in the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. He is also a past president of the Texas Aggie Band Association. Otto received his commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army and reported to Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis, Indiana, for finance officer training.[2]

Formerly in private CPA practice, Otto is the director of business development for the tax consulting firm Ryan. In December 1969, prior to his last semester at TAMU, he married his childhood sweetheart, the former Nancy Whitman. They are United Methodists and sing in their church choir. They have two sons, Bryan Otto of College Station and Jason Otto and wife Brandee of Kyle in Hays County, south of Austin, and three grandchildren.[2]

Political life

Prior to his House service, Otto was a member of the Dayton City Council and an elected trustee of the Dayton Independent School District. He is a former board member of the Liberty County Central Appraisal District and the Dayton Chamber of Commerce. He is a former director of the Dayton Community Development Corporation and has been engaged as well in fund-raising for the Dayton City Library.[2]

In his first election to the House in 2004, Otto unseated the three-term Democratic incumbent, Daniel Parker "Dan" Ellis (born c. 1959) of Livingston in Polk County, which is no longer in District 18.[3] Otto polled 26,337 votes (54.6 percent) to Ellis's 21,925 (45.4 percent).[4] No Democrat challenged Otto in 2006, when he defeated the Libertarian nominee, Kris A. Overstreet (born c. 1955) of Cleveland, also in Liberty County, 19,153 (76 percent) to 6,048 (24 percent).[5]

In 2012, Otto secured his fifth term in the House without general election opposition. In the primary election on May 29, 2012, he won 9,485 (67 percent) to 4,677 (33 percent) for his fellow Republican Dwayne Stovall,[6] a businessman from Cleveland. In 2014, Stovall was a third-placed primary candidate for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate seat still held by Moderate Republican John Cornyn. Then U.S. Representative Steve Stockman of Texas's 36th congressional district, which includes Liberty County, finished second in the balloting, but Cornyn easily won nomination to his third term with more than 59 percent of the votes cast. Stockman received a ten-year sentence at the federal prison in Beaumont after conviction of campaign finance laws. Cornyn then won again in 2020, when Stovall again challenged him and then prevailed in the general election.

Otto served as the vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and sits as well on the Appropriations and Conference committees.[1]In 2005, he was named "Freshman of the Year" by the House Republican Caucus, "Rookie of the Year" by Texas Monthly magazine, and "Most Valuable Freshman" by Capitol Inside. In 2008, as the chairman of the House Select Committee on Property Tax Relief and Appraisal Reform, Otto worked to secure passage of property tax reforms. For this endeavor he earned the "Legislative Achievement Award" from the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.[2]Otto was a member of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

In the Republican primary held on March 4, 2014, Otto defeated Terry Holcomb, 8,547 (62 percent) to 5,275 (38 percent).[7] Ott declined to seek a fourth term in 2016. Ernest Bailes won the Republican nomination over five intraparty opponents and then held the seat in the general election.


  1. 1.0 1.1 State Rep. John Otto: District 18 (R-Dayton). The Texas Tribune. Retrieved on February 19, 2014; material no longer accessible on-line.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 John Otto Biography. Texas House of Representatives. Retrieved on February 19, 2014; material no longer accessible on-line.
  3. Dan Ellis. Texas Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved on November 20, 2020.
  4. Texas Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 2, 2004.
  5. Texas Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 7, 2006.
  6. Texas Secretary of State, Election Returns, March 31, 2012.
  7. Texas Secretary of State, Election Returns, March 4, 2014.