By CHRISTIN COYNE
The Parker County Republican Party held a candidates forum Monday night, inviting Republican primary candidates to address the several hundred people gathered at the Parker County Courthouse and answer questions from a panel of local media.
Early voting began Tuesday and runs through Feb. 28. The primary election is March 4.
Following are some of the comments made by candidates in the local Republican primary’s contested races:
Challenger Cary McKay, a developer, called for more transparency in commissioner’s court, including video taping meetings, saying it was inappropriate that the judge, a commissioner and the auditor discussed a $1.3 million budget shortfall in the hallway.
McKay said he wants to see taxes go down, adding that the county’s budget has seen an increase of 110 percent in the last decade, from $19.6 million to $41.3 million, with the population growing 20 percent. The county should combine all the taxes the county collects, including the county tax and lateral road tax, to get a true assessment of where the county stands in Texas, McKay said, adding that he would work with county employees in their office to try to save taxpayer dollars.
McKay said residents are either happy with his opponent or are ready for change.
Incumbent Mark Riley said the county judge has multiple duties, including presiding over one of nine judicial courts in the county, and he has complied with the judicial code of conduct during the election and has the temperament and character to make judicial decisions.
The administrative duties of the judge are not those of a part-time judge, Riley said, adding that residents have had part-time volunteer commissioners but don’t need a volunteer judge, and he has no business interests that will conflict with decisions he makes.
Riley said 82 percent of Texas counties have a higher tax rate for the general operating fund than Parker County, bond ratings have improved, and transportation bond projects are on time and under budget in five years. Parker County cannot afford on-the-job training with the growth the county is experiencing, Riley said, adding that, by law, the county cannot combine the county’s taxes.