Coryell County judge candidate meets with voters
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Sunday afternoon, Bob Harrell, candidate for Coryell County judge, met with voters at the Cowhouse Ranch in Pidcoke, about halfway between Copperas Cove and the county seat of Gatesville, for an informal gathering hosted by Sam and Nancy Golden.
Harrell is just one of five candidates who’ve filed for the Republican party ticket for the position of county judge. With February 20 being the start of early voting for the March 6 primary, he along with other candidates are trying to get the word out that not only is there an election within Coryell County but statewide, and they are hoping to get voters to come to the polls.
Harrell, presently the Emergency Management Coordinator for Coryell County, said he sees the roles of county judge as working on the county’s budget with good stewardship of the taxpayers’ money, and also finding ways to increase the local tax base.
He said he hears concerns from local voters about higher taxes and roads in Coryell county. Another concern is retaining good people, especially for county law enforcement.
“Our sheriff’s office is understaffed and underpaid. We’re a training ground for a lot of departments around the area,” Harrell said, referring to deputies and officers who leave for higher-paying jobs at other county and state agencies.
“We’re going to keep good qualified deputy sheriffs. We need to figure out a way we can keep them,” Harrell added.
“We need to increase our tax base but keep our taxes low. It’s a common-sense approach where we do stewardship of money, cut the fat out, but focus on areas like infrastructure. Because If we don’t have an infrastructure, to increase our tax base, like water, power, sewer, those businesses will not come in because we can’t support it.”
Harrell believes that the county, working with area entities like the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, can enlarge that tax base.
“Keith Sledd is instrumental through HOTDA…with smart people like Keith and other folks, we can come up with a good plan to bring business to the community, to central Texas. Because, we’ve got some great real estate in Coryell County. This is a win-win for us...We’re close enough to big cities but we have a country flavor to us. It doesn’t get any better than this.” The county, along with other local entities, is supporting a feasibility study for the expansion of the Fort Hood railhead in Coryell County.
As county judge, Harrell said he would work with the county commissioners, work with all the influential folks in the county, to achieve a community of excellence.
“We need more business here in Coryell County,” Harrell said. One of the initiatives he plans to work on is bringing groups together for the good of the county. “I’d like to see groups like the Copperas Cove and Gatesville chambers (of commerce) working together, the Copperas Cove EDC and county EDB working together.”
“We also need to have sustainability in the sense of jobs. We can’t always depend on Fort Hood. We also need to have manufacturing, or some kind of service-based industry to spread out the tax base.”
As far as the county budget goes, he believes that each county department head needs to justify every dime spent when presenting proposed budgets to the commissioners.
“They need to be very cautious and show stewardship to the people for the money they actually spend.”
Harrell gave his own department budget as an example, a lot of which is grant funded, he said. He believes there are funding opportunities the county needs to take advantage of to help its funding.
Along with Harrell, Alan Mathis, Allen Avery, John Derrick, Roger Miller and Janice Gray are running for the spot currently occupied by John Firth, who announced last summer that he did not intend to run for another term.