As Election Day approaches and the votes will soon be counted, I want to first say ďthank youĒ to everyone who has helped us during this campaign. Many people have given their time, talent, and treasure, and Iím very honored to have so many good people across the county stand up to help us. We have met many new friends and reconnected with old friends. Itís a real privilege to be able to offer yourself for public service in this great country of ours, and I am very thankful for the opportunity. In this the last column before Election Day, I would like to leave you with just a few thoughts. †

When I decided to run for county judge and challenge the incumbent, it was quite frankly because I disagreed with the direction of things, and I felt I could do a better job. Ultimately, that is for you the voter to decide: if you agree or not. One of the great things about our country is that elected officials have to stand before the voters every few years and give an account of the job they have done. We donít elect people for life. I have nothing personally against Judge Bush. I have simply attempted to point out her record and share with you the voters where I think we differ. I have disagreed with the judge on several key issues, and I donít know of any other legitimate reason why a person would challenge an incumbent. Any attempt to make this into more than that is misguided and an unfair characterization of the facts.

First, in previous articles in this paper, I have clearly stated that the tax increase in 2011 was, in my opinion, not only not needed, it was caused in large part by the use of unsound financial practices. The judge told voters when she was running in 2010, ďThe people, and I am one of them, do not want a tax increase.Ē Less than a year later, she voted to raise taxes 5 percent in a time when a lot of families were struggling through a recession. I disagree with that. Call me old fashioned or naÔve, but I think people should live up to what they promise.

Second, I feel the lack of transparency, and the vague agenda postings are not appropriate. The judge chose to put a statement in this paper explaining her actions concerning a judicial stipend she received from the state. I did not bring this up; I did not make this an issue, and Iím not sure what it all means, but one thing is very clear and conspicuously absent from her defense of her actions. There was a clear effort to deceive the public in the manner in which it was posted. It was not timely, and it was, without a doubt, vague, and I promise you: I will never seek to hide any action the commissionersí court takes.

Third, I think we can and should do a better job of building and maintaining our roads. Getting money from TxDOT is hard work. We have needs, and I think we can do better. I will make it my goal to take the lead in this important area. As our county continues to grow, we will see an increased strain on our roads, and this will require a constant and persistent focus to be successful in building and maintaining adequate roads.

Lastly, the publisher and editor of this newspaper criticized me in a recent column because I said the judge had not lived up to her campaign promises to increase spending for law enforcement, while she increased spending in other areas. While I respect Neal as a journalist and count him as a friend, I strongly disagree with his representation of my position. My point was simple. While revenue to the county has grown, funding to law enforcement has been cut, and spending in other areas has increased. If you study the budget, as I have, you know this a fact. The sheriffís office today provides more law enforcement and handles more prisoners in the jail with fewer dollars. As many of you know, the sheriff has endorsed me in this race. Iím very proud to have his support, and I am proud of the job he and his department are doing for our citizens. He has asked me for nothing, and I have promised him nothing. There is no quid pro quo. But I will tell you I will work hard to make sure our law enforcement has the resources they need.

By the way, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards recently performed a study of our jail. The findings of this study were to be presented to the commissionersí court at its Feb. 10 meeting. The judge, at the last minute, asked them not to come saying she would not be in attendance. She was there. Could it be that this report contains information she doesnít want revealed before the election? I donít know, but I do know itís more of the same lack of transparency.

These are some of the key points where I disagree with the judge and honestly feel I can do, and will do, a better job. We have said many things, and many others have said a great many things during the course of this campaign. Thatís OK; I welcome the discourse. But now it time for you to decide. Whatever the outcome is I thank you for your consideration of my candidacy, and I respectfully ask for your vote.

Richard Rozier is a candidate running for Ellis County Judge in the Republican Primary.