Q&A: Get to know the candidates for Montgomery County Precinct 2 commissioner before March 1 primary

Early voting will run Feb. 14-25 with the primary election March 1. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Early voting will run Feb. 14-25 with the primary election March 1. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Early voting will run Feb. 14-25 with the primary election March 1. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

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Charlie Riley
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Jennifer Eckhart
There are two Republican candidates running for commissioner to represent Montgomery County Precinct 2. No Democrats filed for the seat.

The primary will be held March 1 with early voting taking place Feb. 14-25. The winners for each party in the March primaries will be on the ballot in the November general election.

Candidate responses may have been edited for length and clarity.

*Indicates incumbent

*Charlie Riley


Experience: I have been working at Precinct 2 Commissioner’s office for over 20 years, either as commissioner or operations manager.

Occupation: Montgomery County Commissioner, Precinct 2

www.charlieriley.org

How do you plan to address drainage and flooding issues in the precinct?

When there is an area for concern in regard to flooding, we have four ... crews who respond and check the culverts and ditches for debris that can be removed. If the issue is larger than that, we consult the county engineer's office to send out a professional engineer to provide schematics for improving the drainage. The county completes the work that is on county property and notifies the proper authority regarding further steps that need to be done.

If re-elected, what steps would you take to improve transportation locally?

We’ve already addressed mobility in several areas, which improved situations, but with the epic amount of growth in our area, we know we’ll need to do more. The following are what we are currently working on: a $500,000 mobility study with Houston-Galveston Area Council, a bypass of Magnolia via FM 1488, an improvement at the intersection of of Hardin Store Road and Hwy. 249, widen Nichols Sawmill Road, Hwy. 242 overpass and a right-turn lane from Grogan’s Mill onto Research Forest Drive.

What are your priorities for managing growth in Precinct 2?

Safety and mobility. Our law enforcement personnel must match the growth in order to keep Montgomery County a safe place to live. Since I’ve been in office, we’ve added about 200 additional law enforcement officers to keep up with growth. I will continue to heed the advice of law enforcement and ensure they have the funding they need to keep our community safe. The projects I mentioned in Question 2 are all along major commuting routes that I’m working on to plan for expected growth.

How would you plan to spend the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding?

We will follow the federal guidelines, such as when we spent federally approved money to hire nurses due to the nursing shortage in Montgomery County.

What do you believe the county’s role should be in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?

This is a medical issue, and when it comes to medical issues, I believe the county should stay out of personal decisions. That means, we don’t require people to close their businesses, stay at home or anything else that would impede on their freedom. As a county, our only role should be to provide resources, such as vital monoclonal antibody centers. I’m proud that Montgomery County has been a leader in securing needed medical care to those who need it.

Jennifer Eckhart

Experience: business management degree, career in construction and finance

Occupation: Eckhart Investments LLC

www.elect-eckhart.com

How do you plan to address drainage and flooding issues in the precinct?

First, I will require maintaining complete drainage pathways rather than addressing one residence at a time, so we operate efficiently. Second, I will prioritize the cleaning out of tributaries, which will prevent water backup and flooding during storms. Third, I will update development standards so runoff from new developments no longer harms existing neighborhoods. Last, I will collaborate with other local agencies to develop a comprehensive plan to address local and regional issues.

If elected, what steps would you take to improve transportation locally?

Communication with our community is imperative to understand and address issues. I will partner with [the Texas Department of Transportation] to address the FM 2854 expansion. Analyzation of highly traveled roads for potential expansion. Elementary schools on highly traveled roads need a carline road lane to improve traffic flow and safety. Developers should carry their fair share of costs for road construction leading to their neighborhoods so the county can better utilize our budget to manage mobility issues.

What are your priorities for managing growth in Precinct 2?

My top priorities for managing growth are mobility, drainage, safety and fiscal responsibility. Well-planned and well-built infrastructure is critical to moving goods and people safely throughout the county and for building our economy. Improved drainage plans and development standards are necessary to protect property owners and their investments. Our law enforcement departments must be fully funded to continue keeping our community safe. Zero-based budgeting will allow for every dollar to be accounted for.

How would you plan to spend the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding?

Montgomery County was the only county where the [Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security] funds were not distributed according to the instructional letter from Gov Abbott. I fully intend to follow all requirements. The funds would be distributed based upon guidelines, or we risk the potential clawback of CARES funds.

What do you believe the county’s role should be in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The county should provide proven information to the community regarding prevention measures and treatment options. The county’s role should be limited to its purview of emergency management and the services required to be provided. This does not give the county the authority to limit our constitutional rights by preventing businesses from operating or to mandate vaccines. I trust our community is able to make those decisions for themselves and their families.
By Chandler France

Reporter, Tomball/Magnolia

Chandler joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Southern California, where he was the executive editor of Annenberg Media. He previously interned with the company in Gilbert, AZ and with the Beacon Project, an investigative reporting team in Los Angeles. Chandler is originally from Laguna Hills, CA.