Galveston County Commissioner
I'm a fourth generation Texan, born in Pasadena. I''m the grandson of a bricklayer and a plant worker. My great-grandmother moved here as a little girl, walking behind a covered wagon.
I attended League City Intermediate (when it was still on FM 2094) and graduated from Clear Creek High School. We've seen a lot of changes since that time. But some things should remain the same.
Family is the foundation of my life, second only to my faith. Growing up, as the son of a police officer and a children's' minister, right and wrong were always pretty clear concepts in our home.
Today I try to raise my children with those same values, and a full appreciation for the opportunities in front of them, and the responsibilities that come with it.
I've been married to my wife, Melissa, for 20 years. We married four days after graduating college together.
Today she remains my partner and my best friend. I count her as the blessing of my life.
Avery, our oldest daughter, is 8 going on 18. Our twins, Ramsey and Jeneya, are three years old and a joy. And our youngest son, 2 year old Weston, is still a handful!
My brother and his family, and all of our parents and extended family live in the greater Houston area. Holidays are gatherings of family at large, and often friends alike.
We treasure those relationships. We also value our relationships with the friends and neighbors who we serve.
I'm an honors graduate of Clear Creek High School, Washington & Lee University (B.A. Politics), and the University of Texas School of Law. At UT, I was a Townes-Rice Scholar and member of Texas Law Review. After graduation, my wife and I moved back to Galveston County, and I went to work at one of the state's top law firms in downtown Houston. I handled complex commercial litigation matters, including contracts, construction, and governmental relations. I left the big firm to pursue entreprenurial interests. I owned and helped operate my own retail business, managed and grew our family commercial real estate company, and practiced law.
I've been a conservative my whole life. My political awareness was born on the energy crisis, economic malaise, and foreign policy ineptitude of the 1970's. Today, that all seems a little too familiar. Philosophically I know that smaller government is better. But business experience hammers that home to your pocketbook. It takes a lot of time to respond to government regulations, and it saps productivity. It's hard to make a buck in any economy, let alone this economy. And it's frustrating to see government officials, who are supposed to work for us, taking our money and spending it in ways that we would never dream of doing ourselves. But it's only possible to accomplish so much in a support role. I'm excited for the opportunity to take on greater responsibility and make a direct and meaningful difference in Galveston County.
Having conservative representation is nice, but it means little if they can't translate values into actual results. I have the hands-on business and legal experience to be an effective county commissioner. My business background in the commercial real estate, including knowledge of construction, finance, infrastructure and land use is directly relevant to many of the responsibilities of county government, including transportation, infrastructure, and economic development. My legal experience in both business transactions and commercial litigation will help with overseeing multi-million dollar county contracts, formulating and controlling private sector and inter-local agreements, and minimizing public liabilities. And from my experience operating small businesses, I can effectively develop and ensure adherence to budgets, enhance program staffing, and root out operational inefficiencies to help deliver effective government services.
During my campaign, I pointed to the record level of county debt. "Let's pay some off early," I urged. During my first year in office, I helped do just that. We repaid more than two million dollars in bond debt early, saving taxpayers millions in interest costs and putting the county on a stronger financial footing.
I campaigned that the county's tax rate was the highest in the region and needed to be reduced. In my first budget year, I helped cut the tax rate enough that, even with higher appraisals, county government actually took less money from taxpayers.
I promised to work toward a smaller, higher paid county government workforce. After years of stagnant wages, we increased employee salaries for the second year in a row. We also reduced the size of county government by about 1%, mostly through attrition and reassignments. This is the third annual shrinkage of county government by the Republican Commissioners Court.
I committed to increasing transparency generally, and to subjecting all county contracts to competitive award. In my first year, we invested in technology to stream all Commissioners Court meetings online. 2014 we will extend online access to video recordings of the public meetings of statutory county boards. We also launched portals for a county commissioners' electronic discussion forum and an online public notice board that is advertised on other community websites. We've also bid out a number of contracts that had not been competitively evaluated in decades.
I campaigned on greater use of technology tools to improve service and reduce cost of county operations. At the end of my first year, we completed a county-wide replacement of desktop and laptop computers. We've dramatically restructured and increased funding for our Information Technology Department. And this year we've begun developing automated processes for Human Resources, Commissioners Court agendas and other departments. We're also making more services available online.
I've argued that the county needed to focus on infrastructure projects. We're building new roads in San Leon. I'm shepherding the politically challenging wastewater treatment plant project in Crystal Beach. We'll soon begin construction of beach-related amenities on Bolivar Peninsula. And we have many other infrastructure projects underway.