Hays County Judge, Commissioner Candidates

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Jeff Barton

Six Candidates Vying to Win Jobs as Hays County Judge and Commissioners

Research Provides Voters With a Better Sense of People on the Ballot

Editor’s Introduction: The Austin Bulldog is stepping off the beaten path of how to cover an election. We will point you to some of the stories written by other publications, but we will provide information that journalists seldom take the time to dig up and assemble.

Rather than selectively quote from our background research, our approach is to use an extensive, organized plan to find, copy, and publish source documents that you can explore to form your own conclusions about people seeking elective office.

Caveat: We found that the officeholders and candidates in Hays County are not required to submit an important document that their counterparts in Travis County must complete and file: Personal Financial Statements, per Chapter 159 of the Local Government Code.

That didn’t seem right, as these statements provide a tremendous amount of information, including sources of occupational income; investments of every kind; debts; business interests; trusts; board and executive positions; and a whole lot more. This is the kind of information that the public needs to be able to monitor the conduct of their elected officials for possible conflicts of interest.

But in researching the law we learned that counties with a population of fewer than 100,000 residents are not required to file these statements. But wait, the 2009 population of Hays County was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau at 155,545. The kicker is that state law, as stated in the Code Construction Act Section 311.105, defines population as whatever it was in the most recent federal decennial census. That census was taken in 2000, when the population was 97,582.

So, for this election cycle, the candidates and officeholders in Hays County are off the hook and don’t have to disclose information about their personal finances. This is the last election cycle this will be true for, as the 2010 census results will make official the higher population and cause the disclosure rules to apply forevermore.

Meanwhile, we’ve dug into the public records and here published what was found, to include voter registration and voter history; campaign finance reports, business records, property records, service on boards, key staff, spouses, web pages, and links to news stories. For some candidates we also found probate records, a physician’s profile, and a condemnation lawsuit.

We did not find anything that points to problems with any of these candidates, but you can read the documents and let us know if there are implications we didn’t fathom, more reporting that needs to be done. We invite your comments.

Commissioners Court majority at stake

Far down the ballot from the high offices in the federal and state government to be decided in the November 2 general election are the meat-and-potatoes positions that more directly affect the day-to-day lives of citizens.

Among the contests deserving voters’ attention is who will control the majority of the Hays County Commissioners Court for the next four years. The office of county judge and two of the four commissioners posts are up for grabs in a rapidly growing county where the population has jumped by nearly 60 percent in the last decade.

Perhaps the most important function of the Commissioners Court is that it controls the purse strings for the entire county government. The Hays County Commissioners Court recently adopted a budget of $243 million for the fiscal year that began October 1, including construction and debt service. The Commissioners Court sets tax rates, decides priorities for building and maintaining roads and bridges, calls bond elections, and allocates money to all county departments to provide essential services. Woe be unto the elected official or department head who loses favor with the commissioners court, as budgets can be slashed with impunity, as officials in Williamson County, for example, have learned the hard way lately.

Longtime Commissioner Jeff Barton, a Democrat who lives in Buda, is trying to move up to be county judge. He defeated the incumbent in the Democratic Primary. Barton is opposed by Bert Cobb, a Republican who lives and practices medicine in San Marcos.

Vying to fill the Precinct 2 Commissioner’s post vacated by Barton are Democrat Ray Bryant, a former Kyle City Council member who lives in that city, and Republican Mark Jones, who also lives in Kyle and serves on the school board.

The incumbent Precinct 4 Commissioner is Karen Ford. She is a Democrat who lives in the unincorporated area on Nutty Brown Road (County Road 163). Her challenger is Republican Ray Whisenant of Dripping Springs.

Here’s the results of our research:

Candidates for Hays County Judge

Jeff Barton Jefferson “Jeff” Barton (Democrat)

Office sought: Hays County Judge

Judge’s salary: $77,490

E-mail: [email protected]

Current office: Commissioner Precinct 2

Texas Voter Registration Application and Voter History

Campaign Finance Reports

Personal Financial Statement (Not required in Hays County)

Business Records (1 business)

Property Records

Current boards:

Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project

Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transit Working Group

Austin-San Antonio Intermunicipal Commuter Rail District

Alliance for Public Transit

Central Texas Housing Finance Authority

Plum Creek Watershed preservation group

Hays County Family Justice Center

Former boards:

President of the nine-county Capitol Area Rural Transportation System

Vice-chair of then three-county Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

Executive board of the 22-county Central Texas Higher Education Authority

Founder, Onion Creek Cleanup
 Hays Consolidated Campus Leadership

Team
Budafest board of directors

Kyle Lions Club officer

Sigma Delta Chi regional Freedom of Information Chair

Key staff:

Campaign Treasurer: Cyndy Slovak-Barton 512-268-0841

Executive Assistant: Phyllis Burnett 512-262-2091

Campaign Consultant: Amanda Domaschk

Spouse: Cyndy Slovak-Barton, co-publisher, Hays Free Press

Web pages:

http://www.jeffersonbarton.com

http://www.comm2.co.hays.tx.us

Links to stories:

Endorsed by Austin American-Statesman on October 17, 2010

Austin American-Statesman, October 14, 2010

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid:586590

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid:654030

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A529170

http://haysfreepress.com/archives/8206

 

Bert Cobb Albert “Bert” Cobb (Republican)

Office sought: Hays County Judge

Judge’s salary: $77,490

E-mail: [email protected]

Current office: None

Texas Voter Registration Application and Voter History

Campaign Finance Reports

Personal Financial Statement (Not required in Hays County)

Business Records (3 businesses)

Property Records

Probate Records

Physician Profile

Former boards:

President, Tri-County Medical Society

President, Pan American Allergy Society

Board Examiner, American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy

President, Rotary Club of Greater San Marcos

Key staff:

Campaign Treasurer: Lon A. Shell 512-644-0848

Spouse: Gaye Cobb

Web pages:

http://www.drbertcobb.com/meet_dr_bert/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Bert-Cobb/219840900872

Links to stories:

Austin American-Statesman, October 14, 2010

http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/will-hays-county-turn-red-again-this-november-924314.html

http://haysfreepress.com/archives/8206

 

Candidates for Hays County Commissioner Precinct 2

Ray Bryant Ray Bryant (Democrat)

Office sought: Hays County Commissioner Precinct 2

Commissioner’s salary: $65,048

E-mail: Use form at http://www.voteraybryant.com/contact.html

Office held: Former Kyle City Council Member

Texas Voter Registration Application and Voter History

Campaign Finance Reports

Personal Financial Statement (Not required in Hays County)

Business Records (None located)

Property Records

Past boards:

Kyle Planning and Zoning Commission

Kyle Board of Adjustment

North Hays County ACC Steering Committee

Kyle Community Relations Committee

Past President, Amberwood Homeowners Association

Kyle Genealogy Society

Key staff:

Paula Alvarez, Campaign Treasurer 512-268-6030

Spouse: Sandra Bryant

Web pages:

http://www.voteraybryant.com/index.html

Links to stories:

Endorsed by Austin American-Statesman on October 17, 2010

http://haysfreepress.com/archives/811

http://haysfreepress.com/archives/8206

 

Mark Jones Mark Jones (Republican)

Office sought: Hays County Commissioner Precinct 2

Commissioner’s salary: $65,048

E-mail: [email protected]

Current office: Vice President, Hays CISD Board of Trustees

Office salary: $65,048 (Commissioner 2010)

Texas Voter Registration Application and Voter History

Campaign Finance Reports

Personal Financial Statement (Not required in Hays County)

Business Records (None located)

Property Records

Past boards:

Plum Creek Conservation District

Founding Treasurer, Central Texas Life Care

Key staff:

Campaign Treasurer: James Anderson 512-799-4245

Spouse: Kerri Jones

Web pages and social network sites:

http://www.markjones2010.com/meet_mark/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Jones/126360718007

Links to stories:

http://haysfreepress.com/archives/3441

http://haysfreepress.com/archives/8206

 

Candidates for Hays County Commissioner Precinct 4

 Karen FordKaren Ford (Democrat)

Office sought: Hays County Commissioner Precinct 4

Commissioner’s salary: $65,048

E-mail: [email protected]

Current office: Precinct 4 Commissioner since 2007

Texas Voter Registration Application and Voter History

Campaign Finance Reports

Personal Financial Statement (Not required in Hays County)

Business Records:Owner, White Hat Creative, communications company (No documents located)

Property Records

Eminent Domain Lawsuit

Current boards:

Clean Air Coalition, 2nd Vice-Chair, representing Hays County

Clean Air Force, executive committee and board member

Envision Central Texas, co-chair, Natural Infrastructure Committee

Hays County Water Conservation Working Group, founder/leader

Hill Country County Coalition

Past boards:

Rotary Club of Dripping Springs, co-chair 2009 Veteran’s Day Tribute

Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan

Nutty Brown Road Neighbors Association, founding member and chair

Hill Country Alliance, board member

Art From the Streets campaign, Chair

Regional Water Quality Protection Plan, stakeholder

Association of Retarded Citizens, past volunteer (ARC-Central Texas)

Big Brothers/Big Sisters, past volunteer

Key staff:

Precinct 4 office 512-858-7268

Barbara L. Stroud, Campaign Treasurer 512-923-7341

Spouse: Nick Burkhalter, custom homebuilder

Web pages:

http://www.votekarenford.com/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Ford/124891224914

Links to stories:

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/hillcountry/entries/2008/08/26/looking_for_places_to_shoot_gu.html

http://haysfreepress.com/archives/8206

 

Ray Whisenant Raymond “Ray” Whisenant Jr. (Republican)

Office sought:  Hays County Commissioner Precinct 4

Commissioner’s salary: $65,048

E-mail: [email protected]

Current office: none

Texas Voter Registration Application and Voter History

Campaign Finance Reports

Personal Financial Statement (Not required in Hays County)

Business Records (5 businesses)

Property Records

Probate Records (2 estates)

Current boards:

Texas Ground Water Association, president

Texas Water Well Drillers/Pump Installers Advisory Council, chairman

Past boards:

Central Texas Ground Water Association, president

Dripping Springs ISD Board of Trustees 1981-1990

Dripping Springs Lions Club Chapters

Dripping Springs Senior Citizens Cottages

National Ground Water Association

Hill Country Care Nursing Home

Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission’s Abandoned Water Well Plugging Task Force

Key staff:

E. Wally Kinney, Campaign Treasurer 512-858-4736

Spouse: Connie Whisenant

Web pages:

http://www.raywhisenantforcommissioner.com/

http://northhaysgop.org/2010/03/ray-whisenant-hays-county-commissioner/

Links to stories:

Endorsed by Austin American-Statesman on October 17, 2010

http://haysfreepress.com/archives/8206

Next: Travis County Commissioners Court

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