EDITOR’s NOTE: District Attorney Sherri Tibbe took less than three working days to clear Commissioners Will Conley and Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe of accusations leveled by County Judge Elizabeth Sumter concerning the paving of two county roads. Read the letters here and here [pdf].
GUEST COMMENTARY by WILL CONLEY
Last week while our fellow citizens along the Texas gulf coast braved hurricane Ike, Hays County Judge Liz Sumter managed to make her own headlines by registering a formal complaint against a fellow county commissioner and myself for repairs we made to our constituents’ roads.
Judge Sumter complained that I improperly repaired 1400 feet of Little Ranches Road in Wimberley, known to locals as “Old Bumpy.” Old Bumpy is a old county road that falls within Wimberley’s city limits, so customarily any repair would be discussed with city officials.
The mayor, city manger, and I met to discuss Old Bumpy and the need for repairs. I also discussed the road conditions with area residents and emergency services.
The fact is that Old Bumpy posed a serious public safety threat to area residents. Ken Strange of the Wimberley EMS wrote the road was “impassable for EMS services.” Carol Czichos of Wimberley Fire Department wrote, “the road conditions were such that only a 300-gallon brush truck could pass Old Bumpy.”
Under the advisement of area residents and emergency services, I worked with Wimberley city officials to quickly repair Old Bumpy and improve public safety for area residents.
To Judge Sumter this must have been too responsive. Her bizarre complaint alleges that we did not turn a simple road repair into enough of a bureaucratic mess!
Thankfully the law disagrees with this overly bureaucratic approach to government and Hays County. District Attorney Sherri Tibbe has already responded to Judge Sumter’s odd allegation by informing her that no investigation into this baseless claim would be opened.
One must wonder why Judge Sumter chose now, less than two months from Election Day, to publicly launch her bogus charge. On September 13, Judge Sumter told the Austin American Statesman that she felt “bound” to call for the investigation for ethical reasons.
Perhaps Judge Sumter has confused ethics with cheap politics.
In the same interview with the Statesman, Judge Sumter acknowledged the curious timing of her call for an investigation, but reassured the reporter that her actions were not politically motivated. She conveniently neglected to mention that she was listed on a fundraiser invitation for my opponent’s campaign, himself a Sumter appointee to two county boards.
This stunt was cheap politics at its worst, plain and simple. Let it be stated, in no uncertain terms, that Judge Sumter and her political allies of obstruction are attacking me for bringing people together and getting results for Hays County.
This kind of cheap politics turns citizens into pawns in an underhanded game of obstruction—a game where political self-interest and walls of bureaucracy stand between the people and their government.
Unfortunately, the people lose that game every time.
The issues in this election are simply too important to have it hijacked by bogus allegations.
If my opponents believe the citizens of Hays County are best served by cheap politics, obstruction, and bureaucracy, that is their prerogative.
But as your county commissioner, my priority will always be providing you with the honest and responsive local government you deserve. For the record my fellow colleague Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe was also cleared of any wrong doing and of course she too is up for re-election and represents San Marcos.
Will Conley was elected Hays County Commissioner for Precinct 3 in 2004. Commissioner Conley can be reached at (512) 738-1079, firstname.lastname@example.org