Houston Co. judge examining county issues in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press release) – Houston County Judge Lonnie Hunt was among 13 county judges and commissioners from Texas who completed a week in Washington, DC, meeting with administration officials and congressional leaders about county issues at the federal level.

The county officials are part of the Commissioners Court Leadership Academy, a two-year advanced leadership development program for commissioners court members.  The Texas AgriLife Extension Service's V. G. Young Institute of County Government at Texas A&M University sponsors the program.

"We spent a busy week in Washington," said Judge Hunt.  "This program opened doors and enabled me to make some key contacts that I hope will prove beneficial to the citizens of Houston County.  In addition to the learning that took place, I tried to take advantage of the opportunity to address an issue which is very important to us.  We have millions of dollars allocated to Houston County and Deep East Texas for hurricane recovery projects, but the rules for spending that money discriminate against our rural East Texas counties."

Transportation issues, rural affairs initiatives, and national security were among the issues addressed during the week.  Academy members met with Senator John Cornyn and congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.

Hunt added, "I was able to visit the offices of Congressmen Joe Barton, Kevin Brady and Louie Gohmert.  All three of these men represent counties in the Deep East Texas region.  Many of the issues which affect us are regional in nature, so it's important that we work together with our neighbors.  Together, we have a much stronger voice."

The National Association of Counties hosted a session for the judges and commissioners on how local officials can be effective advocates for their counties at the federal level.

Academy members also visited the Israeli Embassy to learn about Middle East issues.  Also, experts provided the class with an in-depth look into U.S. foreign policy.

In addition to meeting with federal officials, the Academy spent a day in Carroll County, Maryland.  The group explored the differences in county government between Texas and Maryland and also discussed issues facing both states' local governments.

The Academy is one of a number of ongoing educational programs offered by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service for county officials in Texas.

County judges participating in the Academy include Judge Hunt, Burleson County Judge Mike Sutherland, Ector County Judge Susan Redford, Irion County Judge Leon Standard, and Wise County Judge Bill McElhaney.

County commissioners in the program include Tim Brown of  Bell County, Wayne Bubela of Jackson County, Ray Clark of Kaufman County, Debbie Ingalsbe of Hays County, Bobbie Mitchell of Denton County, Alma Moreno of San Patricio County, Richard Roan of Hood County, and John Roth of Parker County.

"We have now completed three of the four sessions in this two year program," Judge Hunt noted.  "The final session will be in College Station this fall.  This program has been extremely challenging and enlightening.  My goal is to use what I have learned to benefit the citizens of Houston County."

For more information please contact: Rick Avery, Director V. G. Young Institute of County Government.

Phone:  979-845-4572 or via email r-avery@tamu.edu