As chairman of the Hays County Republican Party, I write with an urgent message about our upcoming Republican primary election. Very seldom do I weigh in on a primary campaign, but the stakes for Hays County and our party could not be higher than they are in this election.
Less than two years ago, a man named Sam Brannon moved to Hays County after concluding a failed campaign for U.S. Congress as an independent candidate with a campaign committee registered in a Dallas suburb.
Now, he is running for Precinct Three County Commissioner in Hays County against Commissioner Will Conley. Unfortunately, Mr. Brannon is trying to scare Republicans into voting for him by spreading purposely misleading information about Commissioner Conley and many of our local Republican elected leaders.
I will not stand idly by as a political opportunist and outsider to our community falsely attacks and tried to divide our party for nefarious purposes.
Central to Mr. Brannon’s message is Hays County’s debt. He manipulates percentages and statistics to create the appearance that the county’s debt is very high. However, Mr. Brannon’s message is just smoke and mirrors. He hides some very important facts.
First, the vast majority of the debt on Hays County’s balance sheet comes from the road and park bond program approved by voters in 2007 and 2008. As you know, we live in a rapidly growing county. That is why voters overwhelmingly supported a $207 million bond program to improve crowded and unsafe roadways. Commissioner Conley and his fellow Republicans on the commissioner’s court have worked hard to implement these road improvements on time, under budget, and without ever voting to raise tax rates.
These road improvements include such vital roads as Ranch Road 12, FM 2325, I-35 through Hays County, the San Marcos Loop, Hwy 290, Hwy 21, and FM 1626 to name a few. Mr. Brannon believes that we did not improve need to improve any roads and that we should abandon these projects immediately – a position so ridiculous it could only be taken by an outsider who does not understand the issues that matter to Hays County families.
Second, Mr. Brannon fails to mention that Commissioner Conley personally negotiated a
$133 million repayment from the State of Texas to reimburse Hays County for these road
improvements. Thus, the bond debt incurred from our voter-approved road improvement projects is actually much smaller than it appears, since the state will pay about two-thirds of the bill.
Third, Mr. Brannon also fails to mention that some of the debt on the county’s balance sheet is actually an investment that pays for itself. For example, the county paid about $6 million to acquire our Juvenile Justice Center. As a result, surrounding counties are paying Hays County to utilize this excellent facility, and these payments are much larger than the cost than the cost to acquire the center. Thus, while shows as “debt” on our balance sheet, we are actually making money from the project.
What I have mentioned in this letter accounts for the vast majority of the debt on Hays County’s balance sheet. As for the rest? We are investing in a new office building to consolidate several county departments and save taxpayer money over the long term. We also improved an old county road as part of an agreement to secure a new hospital and medical center.
As you can see, Commissioner Conley and his fellow Republicans on the commissioners court are making sound financial decisions. That is why a recent independent audit said that Hays County’s finances are so good, “most governments would envy” our solid financial position.
The facts speak for themselves:
On several occasions, Mr. Brannon has been caught lying about Commissioner Conley. It is imperative that we not allow this to stand. Join me in rejecting Sam Brannon’s dishonest message about Commissioner Conley and our Republican county leaders, and also Mr. Brannon’s dangerous position that Hays County should stop improving our roads and preparing for our future.
Now is the time for Hays County Republicans to celebrate strong conservative leadership. I endorse the efforts of our hardworking Republican leaders in Hays County and ask you to join me in moving our community forward with proven conservatives like Commissioner Will Conley.
BUD WYMORE, chair
Hays County Republican Party