I hope everyone is getting settled into the New Year and all of our new officials are getting acquainted with one another and with their courthouse duties. This is always a strange time for me because I begin to miss the individuals who are no longer with us while at the same time I am excited about the new people I get to meet and work alongside. One of the certainties that will always be part of government service is the constant change of individuals with whom we work. This year we had a commissioner retire who had been here for 20 years. It seems strange not to have him around; however, it also gives me an opportunity to work with a new commissioner who has new and different ideas. I think this prompts us to review our vision and goals for the county and brings to our attention concerns we need to address.
I have always found it refreshing to work with new judges and commissioners because they always have an excitement about their new job and an eagerness to learn how to function in this new role. I hope all of you new folks are taking advantage of all the knowledge around you by developing good working relationships with your other local officials, and that you take the time to attend every educational class possible to acquaint yourself with your new duties. I also want to encourage all of you experienced officials to reach out to these new folks and help guide them as they learn the ropes, so to speak. One thing I have learned through the years when giving guidance is that I need to spend twice as much time listening as I do talking. A wise man once told me that is why God gave us two ears and only one mouth. New members on the court and in other offices around the courthouse usually have some wonderful ideas, but most lack the ability to implement them without ruffling feathers. Much of this can be prevented, however, if we will just keep the lines of communication open and understand that we are all in this together.
With the Texas Legislature in session I know that everyone is on alert and ready to jump if needed. I find myself keeping one hand one my telephone trying to stay informed of what they are doing and the other hand on my county wallet fearful of what they are doing. It may be February, but it is starting to heat up in Austin, and as the session moves forward things will begin to move more rapidly. I want to remind everyone of the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) legislative breakfasts every Tuesday morning in the TAC boardroom at 7:30 a.m. If you are in Austin, this is a great place to get involved and become engaged in the process. If you have not attended one of these sessions, I would encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to see how the process works and what a good job our general counsel Jim Allison does, along with all of the TAC staff, to support county government and keep us informed on the issues that are at the forefront. And let’s not forget about those issues that are sometimes hidden in bills that can impact the county.
Remember we must be informed on the issues and engaged in the process if we are to have any influence on the outcome.