By JUDY SHERIDAN
In a split vote July 15, Parker County commissioners voted 3-2 to appoint Aledo Fire Department President and Deer Creek subdivision resident Juston Stelzer to the ESD No. 1 Board of Commissioners.
County Judge Mark Riley and Commissioners George Conley and Larry Walden voted in favor of Stelzer. Commissioners Dusty Renfro and Craig Peacock voted against Stelzer’s appointment.
The vote came on the heels of a failed motion from Renfro, who initially moved that James Causey, a Deer Creek resident, be appointed to the ESD No. 1 board.
Renfro is the commissioner who represents the Aledo/Annettas area, annexed by ESD No. 1 in May. Causey was the choice of Annetta area leaders who opposed the annexation.
Renfro was supported by Peacock in his endorsement of Causey, but opposed by Riley, Conley and Walden, so the motion failed.
“I will say that I think both the candidates would do a great job,” Renfro said, “but this board member will be representing the Aledo/Annettas area. Most of those mayors submitted letters in support of Mr. Causey, and they represent the citizens of their cities, they were elected to do that, so that was the biggest reason.
“The way the election happened, the debt was not approved, and with Mr. Causey being an accountant, having a lot of experience in that department, that was the reason I thought Mr. Causey would make a good addition to that board. He’s supported by all of our constituents ... most of them.”
In a letter accompanying his application to the ESD No. 1 board, Stelzer, an active firefighter, wrote that if appointed, he would resign from his Aledo VFD position to “better serve the district as a whole.”
“I feel, if selected to serve, I will be able to represent not only the taxpayers in the area I call home,” he wrote, “but also the entire ESD No. 1 district responsibly and fairly.”
Stelzer is the founder/owner of SS Auction Services in Aledo. He is an eight-year member of Aledo VFD and is active in Aledo AgBackers and the Business Development Group of Aledo.
Causey is a Director in the Finance and Program Management organization at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, but has no experience in emergency services or fire protection, according to a letter accompanying his application for the board position.
“Every business needs multiple skill sets,” he wrote, “and I would bring a significant wealth of business acumen to the table.”
Causey also pledged fair representation for all in ESD No. 1.
“I have experienced the pain of questionable representation of a public interest through the Deer Creek Water Works saga of ownership transfer between the original owner, the City of Willow Park and now the City of Annetta,” he wrote. “I don’t want this to happen with the ESD No. 1 annexation.”
Renfro’s office received six letters in support of Causey, according to Renfro’s office staff, and none in support of Stelzer, according to Renfro. All the letters were initially addressed to Judge Mark Riley and/or commissioners.
Annetta Mayor Bruce Pinckard and Annetta North Mayor Rob Watson signed two of the letters. Others came from attorney Robert Carter, Kathryn Thompson, Dennis Thompson, and James and Cynthia Harrison.
Pinckard wrote that Causey’s knowledge of accounting principles and finance would bring credibility in the eyes of voters.
“New equipment must be purchased and existing debt paid off,” he wrote. “I have had many concerns as to how this will take place, and the residents of Annetta and the surrounding area have expressed confusion, since the vote on May 11, 2013, was to not accept responsibility for the existing indebtedness of ESD No. 1.”
Renfro later said that he was surprised that other members of the court, who often endorse the same candidate as the commissioner of the involved precinct, did not support his choice.
Conley, who made the motion to appoint Stelzer, said Stelzer was an impressive candidate who interviewed well and has a dream for the Aledo area.
“To me Causey just wanted to keep an eye on ESD No. 1, not to make things better,” he said, pointing out voters approved the annexation without accepting ESD No. 1’s debt. “He may not be quite as good as the other guy with the numbers, but he’s a smart guy who can do whatever the others can do.”