Since last week’s article in this newspaper, one additional person has announced they will be running for County Judge in the March 1, 2022, primary election.
Frank New, currently a member of the Heath City Council, has declared that he is also competing for the judge position. He lives in Heath, owns his own business, and has been active in Heath for the past several years. Three individuals are currently now scheduled to be on the ballot for this vitally important position: John Beaman, Frank New, and David Sweet.
The Texas Constitution is specific on the duties of the County Judge. For counties less than 250,000 citizens he has two primary duties: prepare the annual budget and be responsible for emergency management of the county.
In addition to these specified responsibilities, from past experience, I know that he also is responsible for being the public face of the county, acting as the CEO of the county ensuring all functions operate successfully, guiding and directing the Commissioners Court in establishing policy for the smooth operation of the county, and establishing and setting in place the plans and procedures for the future of the county.
A deep knowledge of financial operations, forecasting, and use of financial models is essential in the budget preparation area.
Over the past several years we have observed in detail the operation and functioning of the emergency management system of the county. When the pandemic first started, and it became quite apparent that the COVID virus was a real health problem, how quickly did the county react to the spread of the COVID disease?
Did we get timely direction and advice on the wearing of masks and receiving the vaccine? Were well established plans in place to address the need for vaccine? Were instructions on what to do and how to do it speedy, complete, and effective? Was there a coordinated plan to integrate all of the various vaccine providers in the county so the public would know what to do and where to go? Did the county leadership listen to the medical experts?
Was all of this communicated effectively to we citizens?
These are some of the questions one needs to answer when they select their candidate for this position. How well did David Sweet carry out these functions and how well prepared are John Beaman and Frank New to implement these vitally important aspects of being County Judge?
Another vitally important function of the judge is to prepare the county for future growth.
As written in the past, 130 volunteer citizens developed the start of a strategic plan in 2011 for the county looking into the future. As in all plans, this first plan needed to continue to be addressed and revised as the future became clearer over the years. To date, nothing has been done with this initial plan and the county does not have a blueprint for moving into the future.
Already decisions that should have been included in the plan are now being required to be made on a day-to-day basis. New facilities, personnel policies, consolidations, open space, and technology, are but a few of the items that should be in a viable, living strategic plan This is a failure of the current leadership and is an area one must consider when selecting our next County Judge.
As our county continues to expand with more people, more industry, more construction, and the growth of all our cities, it becomes more and important that the county acts as an integrating force that amplifies all the good things that have occurred in the past.
The Road Bond Consortium initiated by the Commissioners Court of long ago has become the model for all of North Texas. The Emergency 911 ambulance service we now have was established by the leadership of the earlier Commissioner Courts.
The physical facilities we are now so proud of were built through the guts and foresight of those earlier Court members who had the vision of what our county could become: “Not a County of Minimums!”
Let’s elect men and women who will continue to carry us into the future, as we know that is where we are going!
Jerry Hogan is a former Rockwall County Judge. He can be reached at email@example.com or 214-394-4033