Weatherford Democrat

February 18, 2014

McCay and Riley face off for Parker County Judge

March 4 primary election

Weatherford Democrat

— Name: Cary McKay

Age: 46

Occupation: Commercial/residential developer

Spouse/family: My wife is Joy and we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this year. Our son is Jacob, 16.

Education: I am a graduate of Keller High School, 1986. 1986-87 baseball scholarship to the University Alabama-Tuscaloosa. Communications major. 1987-1990 Transferred to Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va.

Professional background: Recruited out of college by Chick-Fil-a Corporate Atlanta, Ga. Worked in different locations in the United States. My job was to fix franchises that were experiencing trouble, either through financial, marketing or poorly managed stores. I decided to start my own business after a few years with Chick-Fil-a and went into commercial/residential development and have done so ever since.

Community involvement: Coached Weatherford Optimist football for six years. Board member of Peaster baseball association. Board member of Peaster football assocication. Was head coach for Peaster’s first club junior high football team. Active member at New River Fellowship and serve in the Praise and Worship Ministry. Lifelong Republican and a member of the Tea Party.

What are your top three goals should you be elected to serve? Please be specific.

Goal 1: I will do everything in my power to lower taxes and I pledge not to raise the general fund tax rate. Lack of leadership and poor planning have led to bad results and unnecessary tax increases.

Goal 2: I will involve the commissioners in the budget process and bring true transparency to the taxpayers. Bringing a budget to the commissioners with only two weeks to adopt it and the tax rate is poor leadership. My plans are to literally work with elected officials and department heads in their offices. I want to understand why they do what they do in order to determine if there is anything I can do to help them. The employees will know when they present a budget to court that I have a very good understanding of their needs. I want the employees to understand that all their ideas and opinions are very important, and that we must come together to save taxpayer dollars. We have to change the dysfunction and the excuse that is too often used, “Because that’s how we’ve always done it.” I will promote unity and NO micro-managing.

Goal 3: I will engage the mayors and the cities in Parker County in the process of long-term transportation and water planning. To take 15 years for the Weatherford loop is way too long. It should not take that long to build a two-lane road around Weatherford, and we are less than 50 percent complete. The court has taken little, if any, action on completing the east side where it is sorely needed. We will do better.

The transportation bond projects approved by the voters in 2008 are nearly complete. What is your opinion on what has been accomplished and what, if any, are the next steps the county should take?

The planning started when my opponent took office over 15 years ago. It took about nine years to take it to the voters. Now, after 15 years, the western portion of the loop is near completion. Fifteen-plus years to build a two-lane partial loop on the west side of Weatherford is absurd. The eastern portion of the loop (which is needed to actually complete a loop) has had very little action taken on it. The voters still need to approve the bond, and then the bonds need to be sold. The route needs to be firmed up, land purchased, designed and built. At best, it will be another eight to 10 years until it is complete.

Think about it: If my opponent is re-elected, he will serve 20 years as county judge plus another eight as commissioner before becoming judge, for a total of 28 years. It has taken him 15 years to get this far. At his current pace, it will be 2029 before the loop is finished. If these are the results you want from your county judge, then I am not your man.

I will get the remainder of the project in front of the voters ASAP. The longer we wait, the more it will cost. Improvements are being built in the proposed path, and as the economy improves real estate prices will rise. My opponent stated three times at a Tea Party meeting that he is in no hurry to move forward with the eastern portion. As one of the ladies said after the Tea Party meeting, “How can you call it a loop if it never connects?” Folks, we are better than this!

Earthquakes, and their possible link to injection wells used for fracking waste, have been an issue for Parker County residents recently. Do you think the Texas Railroad Commission should increase the monitoring and reporting done on these wells?

Absolutely. I personally knocked on the doors of some of the residents in the Azle/Reno area. They are very troubled and very concerned about it. Their houses are literally shaking, and items in their homes are falling to the floor with a very loud roaring noise. Oil and gas monitoring and reporting is the responsibility of the Texas Railroad Commission and TCEQ. As county judge I will do my very best to encourage them in determining if the injection wells and /or fracking is the cause of the earthquakes. I applaud Mayor Lynda Stokes of Reno for her leadership in this matter.

Please comment on the $1.3 million road and bridge fund deficit brought to light in this year’s budget talks and the court’s decision to give up individual fund balances.

I believe the lowering of the lateral road tax rate a few years ago in order to raise the general fund tax rate is the cause of the shortage. I was there the day they chose to do this, and I knew then it would come back to haunt us. At the time, each precinct had a fund balance which allowed them the ability to prioritize and fund projects which overlap budget years. Taking this away gave the judge more control over precinct funds and restricted progress at the precinct level.

Also, all the discussions about how to make up the shortage were not held in open court. The judge and the auditor met with each commissioner and discussed their shortfalls outside of the court where the public and the press were not present. I received a phone call from Commissioner Renfro the very next day, and he told me of his concerns about what had taken place outside of court in those discussions. This is wrong!

But this is exactly what happens in an election year. My opponent doesn’t want any bad press; this is pure politics, and it is not transparency. The people and the press should be outraged by these moves. This is, after all, the citizens court.

My predictions for the coming fiscal year are that the current $1.3 million deficit will become far worse especially based upon all of the snow and ice we have experienced this year in Parker County. This deficit will be much, much larger. This all goes back to poor management, poor budgeting and poor leadership. What do you expect from a court that rarely meets throughout the entire year on budget matters?

Do you have any strategies to limit tax increases as the county grows? If so, what are they?

As the county grows, new properties and improvements are added to the tax roll. Our county government should not expand faster than the increase in tax revenue that growth allows. Poor budget management has led to general fund tax increases in seven of the last 10 years.

The county judge is the budget manager and submits his proposed budget. Continually submitting a budget that requires a tax hike to fund it and not holding budget meetings with Commissioners Court until a couple of weeks before the deadline is not the way it should be done. I will work closely with all elected officials and department heads to provide the best services as efficiently and economically as possible. But this takes time and teamwork – something that has been sorely lacking for two decades.

What are the duties and responsibilities of the county judge?

The county judge should lead our county with principled vision. I will represent ALL citizens. I will consistently provide truthful, clear, inclusive leadership. Since the specific duties are numerous, here is a good link for those who would be interested: