After serving in the U.S. Army and having a firefighting career, Parker County resident Matt Drikas has thrown his hat in the ring for Precinct 3 commissioner, challenging incumbent Larry Walden.
Drikas, 40, Republican, has lived in Parker County since 2011, believing in community involvement and strong leadership.
“The style of leadership that I’ve been accustomed to is lead from the front, so as leaders we need to jump out there, we need to be enthusiastic and empower our community,” Drikas said. “I’ve seen this disconnect and lack of enthusiasm from the community towards our local government and I don’t think it has to be that way.”
Drikas grew up in a military family and has lived in many states as well as overseas during his own 10-year military career.
“I served in the Army for 10 years as a military police officer and I had a whole lot of unique opportunities in the military police corps. From there I was able to do SRT, which is the military’s version of SWAT,” Drikas said. “I only made it 10 years because of multiple deployments to Iraq and other places, and I was injured a few times so I got out of the military under medical retirement and moved on to the fire service. I worked in the fire service for about eight years and, once again, was able to do a lot of neat things from being a firefighter to EMT, fire captain and instructor.”
Following his fire career, Drikas said he moved into the private sector in the trucking business.
Drikas said he decided to run for Precinct 3 commissioner because of the county’s uniqueness and wants to help keep it how it is.
“I’ve always had a strong sense of community and patriotism and I think that was instilled to me by my parents and my grandparents through all of their military service. I’ve lived in many different places around the United States and overseas, and I’ve never seen a community quite like Parker County — it amazes me,” Drikas said. “We tend to think of Parker County as an extremely conservative county, but that can change at any time. What I’ve seen happen in conservative counties in California is they got complacent and then all of a sudden they turned purple and then blue and it happens through lack of leadership. I’m not saying that we have leaders right now that don’t care, but we’re entering into this digital generation where information is right now. The community wants the information, they demand the information.”
Drikas said with the growing population, the county really needs a strong growth plan and needs to enhance the county’s public safety departments.
“Nine years ago we were about 120,000 population and right now we’re sitting at 139,000 and project to be at 157,000 in another 10 years, so that population growth isn’t coming from within, that’s people moving in. We need to keep everyone informed, we need to have a strong growth plan that centers on roads and infrastructure improvement, working with the departments to enhance law enforcement, fire service and emergency services,” Drikas said. “We’re doing great in the municipalities, but we really need to step it up in the county with all the [Emergency Services Districts] because the poor ESDs are doing the same thing they were 10 years ago, but we’ve had 20,000 increase in population.”
Walden said his platform for seeking reelection is to continue the projects he’s started, tackle water issues and managing growth.
“Our county is growing rapidly and I want to see that we manage that growth in the best possible manner. We have the bond election for the East Loop and that is ongoing — the projects that I have in my precinct associated with that,” Walden said.
Drikas said he has nothing against Walden and thinks it’s just time for new leadership.
“Larry and I don’t know each other personally and I have nothing bad to say about him,” Drikas said. “It’s not my personality to say anything, I just think that’s it’s time to pass the torch and get new leadership.”
Drikas is involved in the Parker County Young Republicans, a volunteer firefighter in Brock, coaches little league and leads a Bible study.
“I try to be involved as much as possible to the point where it stretches you out a little bit,” Drikas said.