I had over 40 years of business experience when I took office, and it was like starting over with all of the governmental do’s and don’ts. As an elected official, everything you say and do in Commissioners Court is a public record, and everything you do in your daily duties is subject to governmental regulations. Transparency is a must at all times.
My background was financial, not construction. As a result, I had to learn everything about road and bridge maintenance. I determined which Commissioners had the better roads, and then I sought their advice. I then developed both an annual and a multiyear work plan to rebuild our precinct roads.
One thing that was consistent with my previous business experience was the team building necessary to perform at a consistently high level. My employees know that their input is not only welcomed, but expected.
Connecting with other courthouse officials:
I have visited with most of the elected officials, and especially the administrative officials (county and district clerks, treasurer, tax assessor-collector, county attorney, and justice of the peace) to determine their staffing and office needs as well as any future needs resulting from legislative changes.
In many instances, I was not aware of all of the elected officials’ statutory duties, and I gained a valuable insight regarding their budgetary needs to perform those duties.
Connecting with constituents:
Whenever we are going to cause a lengthy disruption to traffic flow, I visit each residence that I expect to be impacted and advise them of our plans and the expected time to return the road to normal operations.
After the closure of our local newspaper in 2021, my wife, Cathy, decided to regularly attend our Commissioners Court meetings and provide a detailed report on the actions and/or discussions resulting from those meetings. Her reports are posted on a dedicated Facebook location.
Biggest challenges and how handled:
After my election but prior to taking office, I was advised of a potential fraud investigation into one of the local nonprofit organizations. The local County Judge had historically represented our county on that board of directors, but I asked the County Judge to appoint me because of my financial background. After several trips to Austin to meet with State agencies, we were ultimately able to shut down that fraudulent operation.
When I took office, many of our precinct roads were not in an acceptable state of repair. I spent most of my first year in office just trying to keep some of the roads passable and keep the dead trees from falling on the roads.
In late 2015 and again in 2018, our county experienced flooding causing severe damage to our roads. I worked with FEMA during these events, and our precinct received over $500,000 in damage reimbursement.
Most rewarding experience:
It has truly been an honor to serve the citizens of Franklin County for the past seven years. While my approval rating fluctuates daily with certain constituents, the majority of feedback has been positive. In my previous business career, I worked with some of the largest companies in the world, but this job as County Commissioner is easily the hardest job I have ever had. It truly is a “24/7” job, but it is also a very rewarding civic responsibility. While I have not accomplished all of my goals for the county, I do know that I am leaving with the county better positioned for future growth.