JUDGE: What we’ve done and what’s been learned
2023 went by like a flash. We accomplished a lot in 2023, and we learned a lot as well. When I took office, former Sheriff and current Precinct 2 Constable Charlie West gave me some sage advice, he told me to listen to folks, take in all the information, and then make the best choice you can when conducting county business. But he warned that even after doing this, you still wouldn’t be able to please everyone. After a full year on the job, I can safely say Charlie was right.
From my first workings in Milam County politics in 2009, I have seen a lot of good people serve in office and work for the betterment of Milam County, and not for fame or a big paycheck. Public service by being elected to office should not be about gaining wealth or prestige, it’s about service.
It’s about doing the hard work to make things better for those you live with here in the county and those you represent. Most of the time there’s a smooth course to our destination; however, there are times when no matter what decision is made, no matter how meticulous the process, no matter how honest the intention, and no matter how good the result is; there is someone who is not happy with the outcome – And that’s alright.
Many folks don’t see all the decisions that are made on a daily basis in Public Service. In some respects, being a public servant or elected official is much like being an offensive lineman in a football game.
Most of the time people don’t even notice you’re there as you go about doing your job, but when you make that one misstep, actual or perceived, then you are criticized. I get it, that’s part of the job and I am fine with that. That criticism can and should be a good barometer of both your performance and/or the public’s point of view on a topic.
When faced with these criticisms or complaints as elected officials, you can either take those comments personally and shut those folks out, or you can accept the comments as constructive criticism, take a look at the issue at hand, and make changes as necessary to improve the process. Human nature is to take the criticism personally, but I choose the latter and will work to improve the process, make necessary changes, and listen to the ideas and suggestions of others.
Sometimes it’s the simplest and/or harshest of suggestions that can make the most difference and if you shut out the comments and those doing the talking, you will miss the very constructive critiques that can offer the greatest insight to make things better.
And isn’t that the job of public servants and elected officeholders; to make things better?
We did a lot of good things in 2023; reinstated the Veterans Services Office, brought back an Emergency Management Coordinator to rebuild that office, created a Planning and Development Office to oversee the new growth in the county, and provided our Volunteer Fire Departments with fuel money just to name a few. There were others, but those are some that stand out right off the top of my head. But even with these, we did have a few missteps as every organization does from time to time, but those missteps are addressed, and we will always work to make things better in the future.
As always, talk to your elected officials. As the County Judge, many folks approach me and talk to me about the issues that affect them. While I will gladly take the time to speak with folks, please remember that I am but one vote out of five on the Commissioners Court. It’s important to discuss things with the other members of the Court as well and let them know how you feel. Please come speak with your elected officials so we can know what the pulse of Milam County is. As I always say, be active, be honest, and be courteous so we can work on the issues we face as a county and make things better for all of us here in Milam County.