Transportation, parks, flood mitigation and public safety are among Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey's top priorities for his new jurisdiction, which will span from Cypress, Spring and Klein to Tomball, The Woodlands and Humble, beginning March 31.

As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, following the results of the 2020 decennial census, Harris County commissioners selected a new boundary map for the county's four commissioner precincts with a split 3-2 vote on Oct. 28. The plan has drawn criticism from the court's two Republican commissioners, Ramsey and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle, as the new map drastically flips the two precincts; much of Precinct 3 is now considered Precinct 4 and vice versa.

The county's redistricting results have prompted several lawsuits seeking to overturn the plan in favor of one that more closely mirrors the county's previous precinct lines, which are still pending, according to a Jan. 27 email from Cagle. However, as the March 31 transition deadline approaches, the two commissioners are now preparing to assume responsibility of entirely new jurisdictions.

"Although these lawsuits are still pending, Commissioner Ramsey and I now must begin the monumental task of moving on from decades-long partnerships to forge new ones in our new precincts," Cagle wrote in a Jan. 27 farewell email to his Precinct 4 constituents. "Despite the numerous challenges ahead, we will work together closely to make this transition as smooth as possible for all our constituents. Although I no longer represent your area, I trust Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom S. Ramsey to provide the same exceptional service that you received from Precinct 4."

To prepare for the transition, Ramsey said in a Jan. 27 interview that the staffs of precincts 3 and 4 have been meeting on a daily basis to ensure no projects fall through the cracks. Ramsey said his staff is in the process of moving into three new road camps throughout the new Precinct 3, which were previously considered to be in precincts 2 and 4. The move will include the relocation of about 40 dump trucks and 100 staff members, among other equipment, he added.

"My commitment, Commissioner Cagle's commitment and Precinct 2's commitment is that we don't disrupt transportation projects; we maintain those that have already begun so we can complete construction," Ramsey said. "I'm handing off what I've got identified as priorities in my old precinct to Commissioner Cagle to consider and he's doing the same to me. There's a really, really good, high percentage that anything I proposed in [old Precinct] 3, Cagle's going to do and anything Cagle proposed in [old Precinct] 4, I'm going to do."

Additionally, Ramsey said the new Precinct 3 includes 6,000 lane miles of road and 68 parks—up from 3,750 lane miles and 63 parks in the old Precinct 3.

"We're ready for the challenge," Ramsey said. "Are we going to have to get more equipment? Absolutely. Are we going to have to hire more people? Absolutely. That's underway as we speak."

In terms of parks, Ramsey said he is looking forward to continuing to build upon Cagle's commitment to green space and is currently working on putting together a parks masterplan for the new Precinct 3 with Clark Condon, a Houston-based landscape architecture firm.

In addition to parks, Ramsey said focusing on flood mitigation efforts throughout the new precinct will also be a cornerstone of his leadership. Ramsey said he subscribes to the "worst-first" mentality and is committed to completing all of the projects outlined in Harris County's 2018 flood bond program before returning to the voters with a second bond referendum.

"I consider the bond issue of 2018 a covenant; we made a commitment so we're going to finish those projects," he said. "And then we're going to get more dollars. I'm an advocate of a [second] bond issue. Not only are we going to do traditional projects, but we're going to finally—I hope—get to the point of trying to solve drainage through some major initiatives like a tunnel."

Finally, when it comes to public safety, Ramsey said he will focus on maintaining well-lit streets and getting police officers back into neighborhoods and in targeted areas such as FM 1960, where crime is prevalent.

"I'm spending a lot of time and have a lot of resources focused on [crime]," Ramsey said. "We're in the middle of the worst crisis I've seen in a lifetime. The crime issue's our No. 1 problem in Harris County, and we must get that under control."

While there may still be a bit of a learning curve as the Precinct 3 staff adjusts to its new jurisdiction, Ramsey said he is confident his 40-year career as a professional engineer throughout Harris County has prepared him for the challenge.

"I've done a lot of projects throughout the county, including Baytown, Huffman, Crosby, Atascocita, Humble, Spring and Tomball, so I'm very familiar personally with the area and the issues, and I look forward to bringing that experience and serving those needs directly," Ramsey said. "I'm not gonna let those folks down."