Driving down city streets, you are bombarded with signs during election season, but most people really don’t understand the difference between a commissioner and a council member, or have any idea who is responsible for what. It’s all a blur as you get to your next destination, and then, when it’s time to vote, you vote for the name you recognize – unless you’ve heard something negative about that person more often.
That’s EXACTLY how advertising works. People want numbers and reach because they’re used to being sold, but those details aren’t what pays the bills. Understanding the psychology of the sale, frequency equals name and brand recognition – and that’s no small thing. They bank on that frequently passed thoroughfare MORE than they bank on the high volume of traffic. Why? Because as I mentioned in my last article, few show up anyway. You may think those signs are randomly placed, but they’re not. They are associated with the same names next to them in areas that – once at the polls – you’ll remember for the package deal.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite enough education.
Let’s break down the roles for the things that matter to YOU, American local family business owners.
Your concerns are taxation, health care, veterans assistance, criminal justice, and more than ever – corruption. You don’t really feel like you can impact such big issues – but understanding commissioner versus council roles might encourage you.
So here’s what I asked Jeff Bickerstaff, owner of Bickerstaff Insurance and Financial Services and OBA member. “Jeff, what’s the difference between a commissioner and a council member?” Nope, I didn’t know. By attending the North Texas Crime Commission meeting last month, I got to chat with a couple candidates running for the same positions, and I wasn’t sure who is responsible for what. You can join the Dallas, Ft. Worth, or North Texas Crime Commissions, too, and I recommend it, because you’ll get a front row seat to understanding how your community operates.
City council members decide on matters of the city. The city council hires (and fires) the City Manager, City Secretary, Municipal Court Judge and City Attorney.
Commissioners and County Judges are elected, but they appoint the County Administrator, who hires the Assistant County Administrator who is responsible for criminal justice and veterans services. Turns out, this is a pretty important position, setting the budgets for the things that concern US, and appointing the people who carry out vital positions.
It’s very important that our county commissioners ‘get it’. In Dallas County, Judge Vic Cunningham’s website refers to 72% of this budget going for criminal justice related work. In Fort Worth, 52% of their budget is focused on education. How is it that Dallas officers are paid so poorly? Your property taxes have increased and increased – the county has taken advantage of YOUR equity, and still our teachers pay for supplies out of their pockets and our officers are underpaid. I’ve heard no one goes to budget meetings, who wants to join me as I start paying closer attention and attending these meetings?
Our Texas state government has cut back the financial support for education, and increased unfunded education requirements for local communities. That means the budgets are operating with less, so they increase our taxes and add other taxes – but from what I understand, they misallocate gasoline tax and others to cover things we know nothing about.
County commissioners work with the budget to decide allocations for criminal justice, unincorporated county roads outside of city jurisdiction and infrastructure, and work with the monies the state sends to them based on our property and sales tax rates. Commissioners provide sheriff’s department oversight.
City council takes what the commissioners send their way and, along with the city budgets, make choices to allocate, hinder, or downright obstruct those monies depending on how long they want to be in office and who they want to make happy. LOTS of politics here.
If you, like me, had questions about the money used to remove a statue deemed racist, when we have 2 Dallas County schools that have been in the news for over 4 years for their desperate need to be torn down and rebuilt – well, where the money is SUPPOSED to go and where it ends up can often be a matter of public support. Since that is obviously the case, I think we can get much louder about the things we want to see as we design our communities, and it starts with voting in commissioners and council members who actually represent US.
And we follow up by showing up for school board meetings and budget meetings. It’s time to get to the bottom of this, so don’t neglect your vote. Primaries often carry the candidate all the way, and they are determined by only a handful of voters. Remember, we’re a relatively young nation. Don’t take your freedoms for granted, there are plenty out there who would love to take them from us, and all they have to do is get us to distrust our own government and not take our God-given authority to stand for right. Don’t leave this up to others. YOUR family and livelihood hang in the balance, and THIS primary season is the most important vote of the year, likely to determine who will work with our President for the remainder of his term.
How can I know if I support a county judge?
How can I work on a committee or board to solve an issue?