In a small-population county, one of the struggles I seem to face in my role as county commissioner is giving my constituents the knowledge of exactly what my job consists of and what they can do to help me in my job.
Many commissioners wish the public was not so involved in the process of county government; however, on occasion I find myself wanting the involvement of local citizens. In Oldham County we rarely see citizens attend or participate in our monthly commissioners court meetings. Sometimes this is a blessing, but more times than not I hope for a little input and participation, which rarely happens. As with many courts, I am sure you only see and hear from people when they do not agree with a decision you have made or when they are trying to persuade you in one direction or another. I always encourage attendance on behalf of the public in hopes that they will come and just see what we do. I would like for them to understand the difficulty of some of the decisions we must make, and I want them to know just exactly what goes on in county government at the local level.
The press can certainly hurt or help the communication process with the citizens of your county. We have a very unique situation in our county that to my knowledge no other county in the state has: The publisher and editor of our county newspaper actually serves on the commissioners court. Yes, I do! This does make for very good press and positive reporting on the actions of our court. Having the choice of whether or not there is publicity of the court’s actions is certainly an advantage that others do not have. Am I a little biased in my job as editor? Maybe just a little! Actually I have chosen not to do regular articles or reports on the monthly commissioners court meetings because I find it very difficult to remain unbiased in my reporting. It is a hard line that can very easily be crossed. So I choose not to get close to that line from either side.
I am very excited about the upcoming year in county government as I face re-election for my fifth term as commissioner. This might just possibly be the first time that I could actually run unopposed. Let me just say, I have my fingers crossed for that to happen.
I have been asked to serve as vice president of the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association for the upcoming year, and I look forward to learning how the association works and what I can do to make it better. I will also be serving on the Resolutions Committee for the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association, so if any of you know of or have a resolution to be considered, please let me know.
It’s going to be a great year in county government, so be involved and be a big part of it!