The four candidates vying for two places on the Somervell County Commissioners Court have very different backgrounds — a retired General Motors manager, a former nuclear energy radiation protection manager, a Microsoft software engineer and a small business owner.
But they all share a desire to make county government stronger and better for the people who live here — and they care enough to take the time and effort to put themselves on the line and let voters have the ultimate say in which persons should serve on the county's top decision-making panel.
As a public service to voters, the Glen Rose Reporter asked each of the candidates the same questions. Their answers are printed below just as the candidates wrote them. They appear in alphabetical order under each precinct.
Don't forget that early voting begins on Oct. 18 and the general election is Nov. 2. Especially in a small county, EVERY vote counts. It's your chance to make your voice heard and YOUR election. Be there!
County Commissioner, Precinct 2
John Curtis (Republican)
PERSONAL INFORMATION: I am 59 years old. My wife, Becky, is a retired school teacher and we have one daughter, Bryn, who graduated from Glen Rose High School. We moved to Glen Rose in the fall of 1980 from Hillsboro. I was employed by Texas Utilities in June of 1979 and commuted from Hillsboro until our move.
EDUCATION: I graduated from Hillsboro High School and attended Hill College for two years. I joined the U.S. Army and was trained as an air traffic controller, serving one tour in Vietnam. I used my GI bill to return to college and received a degree in Nuclear Technology from Texas State Technical College in Waco. Upon graduating from college, I worked at Ingall’s Shipbuilding in Mississippi where I qualified under the U.S. Navy training program as a Radiation Safety technician aboard nuclear power submarines during refueling and overhaul.
RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE: I was in supervisory/manager positions for 24 years at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant. I was involved in the development of programs, hiring of personnel, developing budgets, NRC inspections, monitoring start up of both units and a member of the emergency response organization (from the beginning). My last 11 years were spent as the Radiation Protection Manager. Our department was responsible for all radiation safety programs at the site plus environmental monitoring programs.
OTHER EXPERIENCE AND COMMUNITY SERVICE: I was a member of the Somervell County Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue for six to seven years. I am active with the Angel Food Ministry and Community Connect as a member of the First Baptist Church.
THREE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES:
1. Economic development within the county: We need a plan or plans for two scenarios. The first is the expansion of Comanche Peak. We have lived through 20-plus years of the plant and now we may see it expanded. We need to put a plan in place that can help guide us through this expansion and all that will come with it. We need to look at the past and plan for the future. We should also develop plans in case the expansion of Comanche Peak does not take place. We need to look at ways we can expand (diversify) our tax base to help maintain our taxes at an affordable rate.
2. Hospital: Our hospital’s future is a concern to many. I feel it is essential to have a hospital in Glen Rose. We need to work with the hospital board and thoroughly understand what options would be best for the community.
3. Maintaining what we already have: Many of the facilities are aging and will require more maintenance. Our county roads will require attention. It is important that we monitor these closely. By having an aggressive maintenance program, we should be able to reduce future costs.
FINAL THOUGHTS: My wife and I have retired in Somervell County by choice. We have been blessed to have so many friends who truly care. I feel we can have a voice in the future of our county and we do have control over our destiny. We need to all work together to ensure it happens.
Paul Harper (Democrat)
PERSONAL INFORMATION: Age: 42. I live near Fossil Rim with my wife, Debbie, on nearly 40 acres. We moved here in the late 1990s from The Colony (Denton County).
RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE: I have been employed by Microsoft since 1993 with my current title being Premier Field Engineer. I am a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) with a Security specialization and a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) with a Security specialization. I have a strong technical background, a passion for technology, and am one who figures out problems for a living.
OTHER EXPERIENCE AND COMMUNITY SERVICE: I have been the Manager/Executive Director of the Somervell County Food Bank for the last 21 months, was chairman of the Somervell County Democratic Party from mid-2006 until December of last year, am a member of the Glen Rose Lions Club ("we serve") since last year and am the Secretary of the United Fund of Somervell County.
THREE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES:
1. The biggest issue for Somervell County is the Glen Rose Medical Center. On February 14, 2009, the voters went to the polls and said "NO" to the creation of a Hospital District. On October 19, 2009, the Somervell County Commissioners Court created the Hospital Authority, effectively negating the vote eight months prior! This needs to be fixed by doing what should have been done before, by selling GRMC to a responsible company that runs hospitals for a living. We need to ensure they keep it open as a medical facility and will reimburse the GRMC employees' tuition for classes that are required for level changes. Short-term, the Hospital Authority has almost $900,000 budgeted for 2011, creating a deficit of almost $400,000 in our county budget, so removing this expense from our books should be a high priority and a long-term solution since the voters already said "NO" at the polls just last year!
2. We need a technology push by someone technical who knows how to actually get these things done. This will provide a long-term solution for oversight of what is actually happening with the tax dollars the county is spending. The short-term is that we will have to properly change the processes to ensure it is a local requirement and the good side is that the infrastructure already exists so there should be little to no expenses to make these things happen:
* put the county checkbooks on the county web site
*video record the County Commissioners meetings and put them on the web site in both audio and video format
* put the County Commissioners meeting packets on the web site
* put all public notices on the county web site
3. The Somervell Expo Center and Texas Amphitheatre together lost $630,352.80 last year —
and this is above and beyond ticket sales, etc. We need to recognize and address this problem
short-term, but look for a better solution that will reduce the long-term impact on our budgets
down the road.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I have completed both Open Meetings and Public Information training as required for elected officials. I invite everyone to come review my web site to see more details about me and my campaign, http://paulharper.glenrose.net/, or call me at home at 898-0354.
County Commissioner, Precinct 4
James Barnard (Republican, incumbent)
RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE:
OTHER EXPERIENCE AND COMMUNITY SERVICE:
THREE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES:
E.F. Pete Moore (Democrat)
PERSONAL INFORMATION: Age: 59. I grew up in Lordsburg, N.M., and graduated from Western New Mexico University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business. My wife and I have been married for 33 years and have been blessed with three children and six grandchildren. We live in Nemo and attend Lakeside Baptist Church.
RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE: My early career was spent in human resources working for various engineering, construction and oil and gas companies over a 12-year period. After the 1984 bust in the oil industry, I spent nine years in the insurance business, managing agents in the field. Since 1976 I have owned and operated Glen Rose Auto Parts.
OTHER EXPERIENCE AND COMMUNITY SERVICE: I served four years on the Somervell County Economic Development Board; four years on the Somervell County Tax Appraisal Board; and nine years on the Glen Rose ISD Board of Trustees. These years of service have provided me with experience and insight into the needs of Somervell County.
THREE MAJOR ISSUES FACING SOMERVELL COUNTY:
1. Economic Development — The issue includes not only attracting new businesses, but also supporting existing businesses. When we encourage events that attract consumers to our area, we all benefit.
2. Hospital — We have a definite need for our local hospital. However, the Commissioners’ Court has a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure that this hospital is run as efficiently and effectively as possible.
3. Budget — Our Commissioner’s Court must be focused on maintaining basic services with minimal finances during these tough economic times. Managing the county budget responsibly includes providing adequately for the youth of our county through support of established programs such as 4-H and innovative ideas for the future.