Name: Mark Riley
Occupation: County Judge having served for 19 years
Education: Graduate Navarro College. I have hundreds of hours in judicial education to perform required judicial duties.
Family: Daughter Jennifer Riley and son, Joshua Riley.
Community involvement: As a Parker County resident since 1985, I have served the community in various ways, not just at election time. I have been President of the Parker County Committee on Aging, served on4-H committees, Lions Club, Rotary Club, chamber of commerce committees, graduation speaker at Weatherford College, and have presented multiple times to elementary and high school students about county government. I served on the regional 9-1-1 committee that implemented 9-1-1 in the region, appointed three times by the Governor to serve on the Regional Block Grant Committee, served as vice-chair. I served as Chair of the Regional Transportation Council which is a critical part of community and involvement representing Parker County.
1. What relevant experience and qualities do you have that make you the best candidate for county judge?
My verifiable experience and accomplishments as County Judge for 19 years support my re-election. The 2008 transportation bond was completed on time and under budget. In 2016, voters approved a second transportation bond. The vote of confidence a second time speaks volumes about the trust the taxpayers have in the way county tax dollars are managed. I have built partnerships with the cities, school districts, TXDOT and the Regional Transportation Council, where I served as Chair. I secured $100 million in additional funding for our transportation needs. The tax rate is one of the lowest in Texas , with 87% of the 254 counties having a higher tax rate. Since I have been judge, our bond rating has increased from an A- to AA+ saving tax dollars on the bonds. I initiated the streaming of Commissioners Court meetings. Parker County, Springtown, Weatherford and Willow Park are the only taxing entities that stream meetings. That is true transparency. I stood up for the heritage and history of our community when attacks started by liberals to take monuments off public property. Our monument will stay. When I was asked by citizens to help convince an adult club to move a billboard away for Weatherford High School, I was the only elected official willing to help our citizens. Within three days, the billboard was removed. Experience matters.
2. How do you plan to address the growth that’s come to Parker County, in regards to public safety (Specifically: Fire dispatch through ESD and Sheriff’s Office response times), transportation, infrastructure and the other areas of county government that are and will be impacted by the growth? Financially speaking, how do you plan to keep up with growth – by raising taxes, by seeking to increase the sales tax base, by calling bond elections, etc.?
Our growth funds Constitutionally required services without increasing the tax rate. Adding additional services, will require a tax increase. I believe in limited government. Tax abatements are intended for use in blighted areas. Retail tax abatements are being used inappropriately, giving the new businesses an advantage over existing businesses. Locally owned businesses sometimes are forced to close their doors. Experience matters.
My opponent has made unsubstantiated claims about the Sheriff’s Department, in particular about response times. The Sheriffs department has reduced response time through management practices, including implementation of advanced technology. The response time for priority calls is approximately 12 minutes. An improvement of two minutes from 2015. The county provides dispatch services for Hudson Oaks, and Willow Park. Those partnerships provide excellent service and a savings for city residents. The county contracts with Aledo for patrol service. The county contracts with ESD1 to provide fire dispatch, and we provide two support personnel as well. Fire dispatch can be located at the Sheriffs communications center saving taxpayers the millions of dollars necessary to build and operate a new “regional” style dispatch center. Experience matters.
3. What steps would you take (or have you taken) to increase transparency and improve accountability in the county judge office in regards to managing the budget, posting jobs/hiring employees, the public’s access to county documents (including those used by the commissioners court in support of agenda items) and any other activities overseen by the judge’s office?
Parker County is one of the most transparent taxing entities in the county. From a budget standpoint, the county budget is a line-item budget. That means a taxpayer can look through the budget, department by department, and see expenses by category. Office expenses, salaries, supplies etc. Unlike my opponents budget for his town which groups expenses making it impossible to know how tax dollars are being spent. The county is in progress of improving the on-line financial reporting. When the new system has been fully tested, it will be available for use by the public. Streaming our meetings provides the public an opportunity to see and hear first hand their elected officials. Nothing is hidden. Only Weatherford, Springtown, Willow Park and the county stream meetings, or make meetings available after the fact. Parker County was one of the first local entities to be recognized by the State Comptroller for transparency. All government documents are available on line, or directly from the respective officeholder. The Office of County Judge and all other elected officials are transparent in operations of their respective offices. All applicable laws and policies for the hiring process and open government are followed. Experience matters.