Montgomery County Commissioner Precinct 3
Although city councils, mayors and other government officials may be the most visible to residents, perhaps no figure has more impact on local transportation projects in Texas than the county commissioner.
Montgomery County Precinct 3, which covers The Woodlands, Oak Ridge North, Shenandoah and some unincorporated areas of Spring along Rayford Road, has a new representative in 2013 in James Noack.
Noack won the Republican Primary in May 2012 with 57 percent of the vote and beat Democratic candidate Bryan Cambrice in the general election in November with nearly 78 percent to earn his first term. He replaces former commissioner Ed Chance, who held the position for 25 years and saw the community through its strongest period of population, economic and transportation growth.
Noack has more than 15 years of budget experience working in the retirement plan industry. He grew up in the North Houston area and has lived in and around Houston his whole life. He has lived in Precinct 3 for four years and has two sons attending Conroe ISD schools.
Montgomery County voters turned down the recent $200 million road bond referendum. What can you do as commissioner to get future road bonds passed?
One of the things we can do is prioritize the needs of the precinct and the county and clearly articulate to the voters what we need, why we need it and what the cost is going to be and then what the impact will be down to the taxpayer.
What can you do as commissioner to improve roadways in Precinct 3 within the current budget?
I think we need to better manage the Northstar system, to make certain that we're utilizing the technology that we have to keep track of moving traffic as efficiently as possible. Number two is working closely with our surrounding communities, to make certain that we're working with the City of Shenandoah, the City of Oak Ridge North, that we're working with the township. [We need to] make certain that we're coordinating our efforts with TxDOT and that we're taking advantage of any moneys that do become available through HGAC.
Which road projects and mobility issues do you see as the biggest concerns in your first term?
The first thing I want to do is use GIS to do an inventory of all county-owned roadways and start to look at where our problem areas are and start to prioritize the needs of the county. If you live in South County, you know that Rayford, Sawdust Road is one of our big traffic spots. There's a lot of needs on the east side of I-45 and I want to make certain that those residents are taken care of. I want to make certain that we're working closely with the City of Shenandoah. I know they had some concerns with the flyover [on Research Forest Drive] that the township was looking to do.
What are some of your goals as the new county commissioner?
I want to make certain that our community centers are continuing to serve the purpose of the community. I really want to take a look at the budget. That's one thing I'm really excited about doing is making certain that the moneys we spend at the county level are spent appropriately. I want to make certain the budget is managed as efficiently as possible. If we can shore up some savings in the budget process, that can be used potentially to offset costs of roads from a bond perspective.
What challenges do you foresee working with your fellow commissioners and so many municipalities?
I think my addition to the court will bring a new perspective when it comes to the budgeting process and the fiscal management of the county. I've talked with the mayor of Oak Ridge, I've talked with the mayors and city managers of both Shenandoah and Oak Ridge, as well as everyone at the township. I think sometimes the residents on the east side of I-45 get left out if they're not in Oak Ridge North. So I want to make certain that I'm doing my best as commissioner to reach out to that community, that they're represented as well.
Ed Chance was commissioner for more than two decades. How easily can you step into his shoes?
As far as serving as commissioner, I'm confident I have the skills and the abilities to do so. What I would like to do is just continue to provide superior service to the residents. When you look at the structure of government in general, no one has as much impact and as much direct contact with the community as the county commissioner. So I want to make certain that I'm out there, that I'm visible, that I'm working with the community. My commissioner's advisory council is going to make certain that we're addressing issues and needs of the community locally. So, my goal is not really focused on what was done in the past but where we're going in the future.
What can be done about traffic on Rayford Road?
I want a long-term solution to the east side of the I-45 traffic situation. There are portions of Rayford Road that may be widened, but if you look at the situation, a lot of it is where Rayford and I-45 connect. I would like to work with Commissioner [Jack] Cagle in Harris County and the Harris County Toll Road Authority about the possibility of a northbound entrance ramp coming off of Riley Fuzzell and Grand Parkway going onto the Hardy Toll Road going north. That would mitigate at lot of the traffic situations on the east side.