With the campaign for Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner now in its final stretch, voters face a clear choice in the runoff between incumbent Charlie Riley, who is mired in ethical controversies and has voted to grow government, and his challenger Greg Parker, who is campaigning on reform.
Parker possesses an impressive resume. He served as a county commissioner for two terms in Comal County where he acquired a solid conservative record of cutting taxes and ending wasteful spending. He has also worked as a city manager and was appointed by then Gov. Rick Perry to the State Emergency Communications Commission. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Public Policy.
His decision to challenge the current Precinct 2 incumbent comes at an opportune time for Montgomery County taxpayers. Riley is currently under criminal indictment for allegedly conspiring to circumvent the Texas Open Meetings Act. He has faced grand jury investigations concerning separate issues and has been admonished by District Attorney Brett Ligon for his ethical problems.
When it comes to policy issues during the campaign, two controversial roads have dominated talk on the campaign trail: the 249 toll road and the Woodlands Parkway Extension.
Despite the fact that 91 percent of voters in Precinct 2 approved a proposition in the 2018 Republican Primary saying that no toll roads should be built without voter approval, Riley decided to ram through the 249 toll anyways, voting to issue up to $95 million in revenue bond debt without citizens’ approval to fund the project. Parker has consistently campaigned against the toll and is endorsed by Texans for Toll Free Highways.
The other road is the Woodlands Parkway extension, which Riley has worked to build since he was elected in 2014. He tried to force it on The Woodlands as part of the 2015 road bond, and has refused to remove it from the thoroughfare plan ever since. As recently as January 23, 2018, Riley stated that the Woodlands Parkway extension should not be taken off the thoroughfare plan. Parker is vehemently opposed to the county building the extension.
“Greg Parker has committed to following the will of the people on the thoroughfares and allowing residents the right to vote for or against any new toll roads,” said The Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch.
Riley also plans to extend Gosling Road through the Jones State Forest, which is another project overwhelmingly opposed by residents of The Woodlands and along FM 1488.
Property taxes have also been high on voters’ list of concerns. As appraisals have skyrocketed in the fast-growing suburban county, Montgomery County homeowners have seen their taxes also rise steadily. Riley has been partly responsible for this, who until recently served on the Montgomery County Central Appraisal District Board.
During Riley’s last three years in office, Montgomery County property taxes have soared. In contrast, during Parker’s last three years as commissioner in Comal County, property taxes actually decreased.
The difference between the candidates is clear, and voters have a chance for real reform.
Election Day for the Runoff is May 22.