Q&A: Craig Doyal, Mark Keough vie for Montgomery County Judge position in Republican primary

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Contested races for the March primary election include Montgomery County Judge. Learn about the two Republican candidates running for county judge in the primary election on March 6.

Craig Doyal is the incumbent in the race, which also includes one uncontested Democratic candidate.

Craig Doyal

Hometown: Conroe, Texas
Experience: Doyal served as Montgomery County commissioner for 14 years before being elected county judge where he has served for three years.
Top priorities: prepare for future growth, mobility and infrastructure, promote economic development

936-827-4970
www.craigdoyal.com

What are the biggest challenges facing Montgomery County in terms of rapid population growth?

[First,] building the infrastructure we will need to accommodate the rapid growth coming our way by working to build public support for infrastructure. [Second,] continuing to promote economic development to ensure quality of life and minimal burden on the residential taxpayer. [Third,] to work with local entities and other regional government entities on common regional challenges like flooding.

What efforts would you make toward implementing flood mitigation projects or home buyout programs?

We have already begun drafting an interlocal agreement with the Harris County Flood Control District on a grant application to fund a study of our watersheds, with an eye toward better understanding the hydrology and identify opportunities for mitigation projects that could alleviate some flooding. In addition, we have gone to Washington, D.C. to press for federal assistance and make the case for funding. Finally, we have worked with state authorities as well to make the case for assistance for our county. We are advocating for sufficient dollars to fund a buyout program for local residents.

Are there any county expenses you feel are overfunded/underfunded—if so, which one and why?

Our roads continue to need funding. We do not have the dollars for all the projects we need, and the only recourse often is to go to the voters for road bond funding. We have made attempts to increase the road maintenance budgets for the precincts, but we still remain underfunded in that area.
We [also] struggle to keep pace with the rapid growth in law enforcement, although we fortunately were able to add 53 new law enforcement positions last year despite budget cuts and the revenue loss from adding a 20 percent homestead exemption. I will support the [Montgomery County] Sheriff’s Strategic Plan and will work to provide the resources needed to put that plan into effect.
As for cutting, one of my first acts in office was to consolidate offices and streamline personnel, producing nearly $500,000 in annual savings to the county. I will continue to look for ways to streamline our county government and consolidate offices where necessary. Earning a AAA credit rating has demonstrated our finances are in excellent shape.

Mark Keough

Hometown: The Woodlands, Texas
Experience: Keough has lived in the district for 22 years and served as state representative for District 15 in the Texas House since 2014.
Top priorities: reducing spending and property taxes, improving mobility, restoring trust and ethics to county government

832-729-3314
www.keough4texas.com

What are the biggest challenges facing Montgomery County in terms of rapid population growth?

Right now, we don’t plan for our growing infrastructure needs on a countywide scale. Each [Montgomery County] commissioner is on their own for the planning of infrastructure. This causes multiple problems from method of payment, leveraging resources and lack of foresight. Bringing each commissioner to the table with community leaders and citizens will allow for us to prioritize our infrastructure needs and plan for our continued growth.

What efforts would you make toward implementing flood mitigation projects or home buyout programs?

[This is] a major issue for some residents. First, I would hold [the San Jacinto River Authority’s] feet to the fire and ensure they are providing their legislative mandated flood control without raising fees or taxes. Second, I would partner with stakeholders from across the county and region to look for solutions. Right now, downstream capacity has been lowered due to silting and debris. Lake Houston is at 50 percent its original capacity. When Lake Houston fills up, all the water from San Jacinto River impounds upstream and floods our county. Better coordination between Lake Conroe Dam operators and the community would also be a priority. Dredging and removing debris from the river and creek watersheds will also improve water flow.

Are there any county expenses you feel are overfunded/underfunded—if so, which one and why?

County expenses have grown faster than our population growth and inflation. As expenses have grown, so has property tax collections. Both have surpassed population growth and inflation over the last 12 years. I committed to zero-base our budget and look at every budgeted expense against former years and work with department heads and elected officials to ensure our services are met with the lowest expense possible to the tax payer.  

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Kelly Schafler
Kelly Schafler is a reporter for the Conroe and Montgomery edition of Community Impact, covering public education, city government, development, businesses, local events and all things community-related. Before she joined Community Impact as a full-time reporter in June 2017, Kelly wrote business and dining features for CI as a freelance journalist.
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