Serving as president of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas is a great honor. I look forward to serving you during the coming year and would like to thank everyone who made this possible. Serving as your president is a responsibility that I take seriously, and I will carry out this responsibility to the best of my ability.
For those who may not know me personally, I am the county judge of Borden County in West Texas, and I am a cattle rancher.
I have held the office of county judge for the past 21 years, and before that I held the office of county commissioner for four years. If you have not heard of Gail – our county seat – it is located south of Lubbock in rural ranch and farm country. It is scarcely populated, 729, and every resident of the county is your neighbor.
Our county commissioners are the best in Texas, and they support me wholeheartedly. I feel so fortunate to have been able to raise my son and daughter in this wonderful place and watch them become good citizens, hard workers, and loving individuals.
My wife, Barbara, and I have been involved in the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association as well as the State Association. I am a member of the board of directors of the West Texas Center for Mental Health and Mental Retardation, and a director on the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission. Over the past several years I also have served as president of the local livestock committee and various other county-based offices.
I would like to congratulate Polk County Commissioner Bobby Smith, the past president of the CJCAT, on a wonderful job. Smith has worked so hard the past few years as an officer for our Association, and he did a marvelous job as our president. The convention that he put together in Houston was absolutely one of the best that I have attended. I would like to thank the staff of the Texas Association of Counties, V.G. Young Institute of County Government – Texas Cooperative Extension, the other officers of the Association and their staffs, and the great volunteers for all the time and effort they put in helping make the conference a success.
The CJCAT conference next year will be conducted in Lubbock. The Lubbock County Commissioners Court and Lubbock Convention and Visitors Bureau have been working diligently with us to get preparations started for the 2005 conference. The facilities have been upgraded recently and have a fresh face. There will be sufficient room for all vendors (machinery included) to be housed inside. There is ample space for most functions to be held within the host hotel or within walking distance.
County government faces a very serious legislative session starting in January. We weathered the special sessions last summer with the cooperation of all the county affiliate associations, who put up a unified front to show our legislators what is needed and not needed for county government. We must continue this era of working together, if county government is to stay as strong as it is today.
Unfunded mandates, revenue caps, appraisal caps, and funding for mental health and mental retardation services are a few of the serious issues that county government must address in the upcoming session; we must let our legislators know our position on each of these issues. I assure you that your officers will be working every day with the state legislators in the interest of Texas counties.
Be informed, keep a close eye on the legislation, and contact us on specific issues of importance to your county.
Van L. York, Association President