County Judge Susan Redford, Newly Elected Director, West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association
As a life-long West Texan, I am honored to have been selected to serve as the newest director for the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association. I certainly have large shoes to fill as I look back on all of the first-class judges and commissioners who have served on the West Texas Board. I want to thank the Nominations Committee for entrusting me with this position. I am fortunate to have a strong and supportive commissioners court that allows me this opportunity. I promise I will not let any of you down.
First, I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself. I am in the final year of my first term as Ector County judge. Fortunately I did not have an opponent, so I will be returning for a second term in January. I have lived in Odessa for just over 12 years. I actually moved from Lubbock to Odessa in 1998 to work in a family and employment law litigation office. Shortly thereafter I moved into the district attorney’s office and then to the county attorney’s office. My tenure in the county attorney’s office was the point of inspiration that led me to run for county judge. I grew up in Hockley County, where my parents still live. I received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Angelo State University and am a graduate of Texas Tech University School of Law.
Throughout the next year, counties in West Texas (and many other counties across the state) will be facing several difficult issues. The issue that will likely make the greatest impact will be redistricting. It is no secret that West Texas counties are in great jeopardy of losing representation when the Legislature takes up this issue next year. This will not only affect our representation in the Texas State Legislature and the State Senate, but in Congress as well. We are painfully aware of what the effects of lost representation will be, especially considering the vastly different needs of a largely rural area such as ours.
The second issue of concern that we must address is mineral valuations. As we discovered, the new calculation prescribed for the comptroller to assess mineral valuations for tax purposes is unbalanced. Unfortunately, we did not realize the true impact until last year. Many counties, mine included, were shocked at the loss of revenue created by this formula and its application. I am grateful to Jim Allison, general counsel of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, and the Texas Association of Counties for their leadership on this issue, but it is going to be a long, hard-fought road to find a formula that is fair to all concerned.
The West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association will be active participants in these issues as the Legislature studies them and then convenes to take action. There will also be many other issues of common interest to counties in West Texas and across the state that will require our attention. As you consider your budgets this year, please remember that it is when we show up that we are best able to get things done. I will be present to help in any way possible. It is my hope that you will do the same.