Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley will be facing a tough re-election battle after the announcements that local businessman Brian Dawson and former Comal County Commissioner Gregory Parker will be challenging him in the 2018 Republican Primary.
In his first term in office, Riley has come under fire numerous times for conflicts of interest, nepotism, and wasteful spending. His repeated attempts to extend Woodlands Parkway to SH 249, which would benefit his developer donors but worsen traffic on the parkway, has especially raised the ire of voters in The Woodlands.
In June 2016, Riley, along with Judge Craig Doyal and Commissioner Jim Clark, was indicted by a grand jury for violating the Texas Open Meetings Act. The case is currently pending before the Ninth Court of Appeals. Riley was also accused of nepotism when he created a position in county government for his wife.
Most recently, Riley angered Republican voters by championing the SH 249 toll project, which would be paid for with $73 million in revenue bond debt. In addition to being against the Republican Party Platform, the road will cost at least three times the national per mile average. Both Dawson and Parker have been outspoken opponents of the toll.
While Dawson has strongly criticized Riley’s actions, he carries some baggage into the race himself.
For a short period of time, Dawson was the president of an astro-turf fake tea party, the Texas Conservative Tea Party Coalition. The TCTPC was created by liberal Republican candidates to trick voters into thinking they were really tea party conservatives, and was funded by developers and special interests. Dawson and the TCTPC were strong supporters of Riley and Doyal. Dawson is no longer affiliated with the TCTPC.
Parker is a former two term Comal County Commissioner. He is currently an IT manager and conservative author. He currently holds a masters degree in Public Administration, and is nearing completion of his Ph. D.
At a recent TxDOT hearing, Parker traveled to Austin with a number of conservative activists to speak against tolling SH 249. Parker has been a vocal critic of wasteful spending in Montgomery County government, and has vowed to reduce his own salary if elected as the first step towards cutting spending.
Both Parker and Dawson emerge as strong challengers to Riley, though Dawson will have a lot of work to do to convince conservatives he has truly had a change of heart. Election Day is March 6, 2018.