Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal said he wanted to be a dentist in high school, but he was no longer enamored with the field after sitting in on a few gruesome procedures. He earned his degree in geology, instead, and planned on working in the oil industry. That did not work out, either, because of a down economic cycle. After a couple of stints as a roofer and then working in a mortgage office, at 24 years old, Doyal ran for county commissioner. He lost to Malcom Purvis, but Purvis hired Doyal to work on his staff. Doyal spent 14 years as Purvis’ administrative assistant. Purvis died in 2001, which led to Doyal’s appointment as county commissioner, and he was elected in 2002. In January 2015, the married father of three grown children—and now a grandfather to one—was sworn in to the highest office in Montgomery County, as judge.
Why did you want to be
Montgomery County judge?
It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and having spent a number of years in the commissioners’ office, I wanted to be involved in the bigger-picture issues in Montgomery County. This gave me an opportunity to do just that, to be able to be involved in all aspects of county government and not just at the precinct level.
What are some of the top accomplishments you had as judge in 2015?
We restructured and saved the county approximately $600,000 annually. We just incorporated several offices into one, doing away with the department of infrastructure while restructuring some of those positions. Getting the $280 million bond issue passed was a big one, obviously. This is the first year that I know of that we set aside a capital accounts fund. We were able to set some money aside, and in the past we’ve had large-ticketed issues come up and had to finance those issues.
What is unique to Montgomery County that you had a role in enacting or participating in either as judge or prior?
We were the very first county in the state to do a Pass-Through Finance Program, where we actually went in and built several state projects, and [Texas Department of Transportation] is reimbursing us out of shadow tolls or traffic counts.
What are some improvements you witnessed in the county since beginning your new role?
We’re going to continue to increase funding for the budget to maintain the aging infrastructure—roads that are wearing out. We are trying to get ourselves in a position where we can fund all of that maintenance, such as larger rehabilitation projects, without issuing bond debt.
What are some changes you would like to see the county accomplish in 2016?
To try to meet the needs as we continue to grow. We’re the seventh fastest-growing county in the nation. We have to take into account our law enforcement needs, water needs—to meet them, it’s going to be a major undertaking.
What are some of the top challenges in Montgomery County that you see on the horizon?
The key issue is addressing mobility and making sure that we’re continuing to provide the infrastructure to support the growth that’s coming so we are not gridlocked as far as traffic every day. Another issue will be working with all of our department heads to minimize costs to the taxpayer and still provide services to a rapidly growing county.