Monday, March 26, 2012

Good size crowd attends Republican candidates forum; Conley, Brannon clash over county's fiscal policies

Conley asserted the county is on sound fiscal footing.
Brannon countered that county debt has increased 810% during Conley's time in office

Note: Here's a short take from last night's Republican candidates forum provided by RoundUp contributing writer Barbara Hopson of Wimberley. The forum lasted a little over two hours. A good size crowd, estimated at 250, filled the Wimberley Community Center auditorium. Candidates running in contested races for at least six important public offices in the May 29th Republican primary election gave opening statements and answered questions. Several current Republican officeholders running unopposed for re-election were in the audience and recognized. There were also a few recognizable Democrats at the forum, including former County Judge Liz Sumter. "I attended because there are many races that don't have Democrats in them, so it was important to know who the Republicans were," Sumter later explained. "My overall impression of the event is that the group that organized it did an excellent job."

Send your comments and questions to Ms. Hopson at, to Mr. Conley at, to Mr. Brannon at or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the post

By Barbara Hopson

Sunday night was the Republican candidates forum at Wimberley Community Center. Probably the most interesting exchange was that between Will Conley and Sam Brannon, the two candidates for Hays County Commissioner, Pct. 3.

Conley & Brannon

Questions posed to both Conley and Brannon focused on the county's fiscal policies.

Conley asserted the county is on sound fiscal footing: On his watch the county's credit rating has improved, budgets have been balanced, and several millions of dollars are stowed in banks as reserves.

Brannon replied by saying county budgets have been balanced only because the county has taken on incredible bond debt to implement necessary projects and state law demands county (and State) budgets be balanced. Likewise, it is State law that counties maintain money in reserve. Brannon pointed out the county's credit rating has improved because it does have money reserves and has not failed to make bond payments – not because of any improving fiscal practices of the county.

Like the Federal government, Hays County, during Conley's tenure, has added tremendous debt in order to finance its operations. Brannon noted Hays County is now number one among the 254 counties in Texas in amount of debt relative to total property value of the county. And Hays County ranks 6th in per capita debt.

Current taxpayers are struggling to pay on the huge bond indebtedness of the county, but their children and grandchildren will be crushed by the taxes they will have to pay because of the runaway county debt. That debt will continue to grow – and at an accelerating rate – because of 1) very expensive water acquisition projects that will be constructed over the next 20 years and 2) lavish road projects.

Brannon stated that county debt has increased 810% during Conley's time in office. Meanwhile, social services have been curtailed.

Another contentious exchange was between the two GOP candidates for Hays County Sheriff. Tommy Ratliff and incumbent Gary Cutler "corrected" each other back and forth about what may or may not have occurred concerning conditions and needed upgrades at the county jail.

Scott Field and Madeline Connor (candidates for 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 3) argued over who has more qualifications and experience for the judicial job.

All four Republican candidates seeking to replace retiring 22nd District Court Judge Charles Ramsay were present and gave opening statements: Ronnie Dickens, Bruce Boyer, David Nigh and David Glickler.

Also present were candidates for State Board of Education, District 5, incumbent Ken Mercer and challenger Steve Salyer; and the two candidates vying for Hays County Republican Party Chair, John Pacheco and Shawn Blakely.

Questions for the candidates were prepared in advance of the forum. No questions were taken from the audience.

The primaries will be held on May 29. Two additional local Republican candidate forums are scheduled April 29 in Kyle-Buda and May 6 in Dripping Springs.


Lightnin38 said...

By "...lavish road projects." do you mean rest stops with caviar and champagne? We need adequate and reliable roads to keep up with growth, so I would not characterize them as "lavish" by any means.

Barbara Hopson said...

To Lightnin38:

No, I don't think even Conley would try to slip caviar and champagne rest stops by us.

But "adequate and reliable roads"
do not require stone-pillar signage or expensive medium-size new trees (many of which died in the drought).

And the original CAMPO 2035 Plan (May 2010)called for the roadway to "reconstruct to 4-lane UNDIVIDED
ROADWAY," costing $24.1 million and
extending from the Junction to San
Marcos City Limit(p.80).

The January 2011 Amendments (p.12) to the 2035 Plan call for the roadway now to "reconstruct to 4-lane PARKWAY SECTION," and the cost had become $111 million for the same distance.

We don't have to have a road that morphs into a grand parkway costing 4 1/2 times what the ordinary road was to have cost us.

Anonymous said...

All of a sudden the liberals are Brannon supporters. They don't have a candidate that can win in Hays County so now they pick the fiscal conservative.

I will vote for Conley. At least he will move the county forward - not backwards.

Anonymous said...

Ochoa must be desperate for readers. He's covering the dirt farmers.

Not a Conley lemming said...

to Anon 9:57 PM--

Conley IS moving us forward all right -- to an ever-growing mountain of debt. A highway that goes from $24.1 million to $111 million (in 7 months?!) under Conley?

Brannon has figures to show that Hays County debt has grown 810% under Will's reign.

In what other way do you see Conley leading us forward?

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anon 9:57,

I thought you Republican conservatives WANTED a "fiscal conservative." You should be glad liberals are backing Brannon!


Clear eyed Independent said...

Interesting, this shootout between Conley and Brannon. I don't mind progress but Conley's record on debt spending leaves me no choice but to support Mr. Brannon in the May 29 Republican primary.

cigar lover said...

Hey big spender spend a little money on me

Videos said...

If you want to see what Sam Brannon and Will Conley said at the Republican Candidates Forum on March 25, go to Type "Will Conley" in the Search box at the top of the page, and when the results come up, click on video #5, "Sam Brannon and Will Conley Debate at Wimberley Communi...."

If you can stomach seeing Conley being disrespectful and rude in Commissioners Court to Liz Sumter when she was County Judge, click on video #17 "None of Yer Business!" and on video #19 "Little Woman...You Just Don't Understand How It's Done."

Republican for a Change said...

Will Conley has become a smug hypocrite who thinks he runs the County.

Send him back to the private market he claims to have such admiration for.

Conley is using public funds to enrich private interests who keep his campaign coffers full just for this purpose.

This revolving door of money and experience between public and private is a real problem for us all.

Pay to Play, Pay to Play.

Can't pay? Shut up and go home.

without a vision, we are all blind said...

Road companies, not voters, dictate how much roads will cost.

We are spending vast amounts of our public money on roads that serve only to put money in private pockets and to ensure that we will never have any other way to get around the County.

How about some buses from Wimberley to San Marcos, Buda to San Marcos or from Dripping Springs to Wimberley, with stops along RR 12 and places to park your car?

How about we stop encouraging unwanted residential growth into Hays County by not making roads for developers?

There is nothing written in stone that says our population has to grow and grow.

There are limits to growth and we can have prosperity without growth.

We need real development, not just growth development. We need to take care of our existing infrastructure, our homes, our land and protect our water. Development doesn't mean growth, it means making what we have better and smarter.

We need to spend money on education, energy efficiency and building a real tax base that provides local job opportunities, not just more people competing for diminishing resources.

lurking just outside said...

Let's ask Conley to step aside and let fresh voices into the conversation. He has been in office so long now, he thinks he owns the Courthouse.

We need a community conversation about what we spend our money on, not just let Conley (and those who pay him to spend our money on roads and new buildings and to prop up questionable new residential housing projects) decide for us.

Let's design our own futures and not allow current spending trends to lock us into unsustainable trajectories we may not be able to afford a few years from now.

Why not build Hays County as a place where land, water and wildlife are as important as roadways and strip malls?

Conley has run his course, it is time to send him home to his wife and kids...and to that water-guzzling car wash.

Wanna bet he can no longer support his lifestyle on his private job anymore?

Wanna bet he goes to work for one of these road companies after we vote him out of office?

watching and waiting said...

Make no mistake, Mr. Conley has gotten accustomed to this extra $80+ thousand a year, so there is no way he will not go to work for the same people he has been siphoning off taxpayer money to all these years.

Conley will use what he now knows about navigating public money into private hands to do it from the other side of the table, but better that than allow him to take our money directly out of the till.

Can't believe it said...

I think it was last fall that I read Hays County commissioners voted unanimously to give Travis County $5 million to build a road (in Travis County) that would end at the Hays Co./Travis Co. line.

Did that ever materialize?

And why should Hays County taxpayers give $5 million to another county? I never heard of such.

Hypocrisy Watch said...

Conley was you'alls man when he was running against a Democrat.

Q: Speaking of twisting about, what's the difference between government forcing someone to buy health insurance and the government forcing a women to having a mandatory sonogram.

A: Nothing - but a lot more rationalized hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

We do need to send home our current TX senator Jeff Wentworth, too. He's the legislator who tried to get a bill passed last Lege session that would have allowed students to carry guns on campus. What a dangerouse notion!

He is highly likely to introduce the same nutty bill in the next Lege session.

Plus, he's another legislator who has never seen a developer-pushed MUD that he didn't like.

Liv N Letlive said...

@Anon 12:15pm
Wentworth does need to be sent packing, but not for his part in campus carry.

Laws never have, never can and never will stop the deranged from opening fire on nearby innocents, but they're mighty effective at keeping the law-abiding disarmed and vulnerable to the killers.

Your notion that young people should be sitting ducks for killers is what's dangerous. Really, you prefer your self-righteous moralizing over their lives? Do you want to deny the vote to them as well?

CHL holders are disproportionately far and away more law abiding than the general population: