TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – In this week’s Big Country Politics Sunday conversation, Taylor County Commissioner Precinct 1 Randy Williams discussed his time in office and his decision to run for re-election.
Williams was born and raised in Stockton, California, and in 1972, he worked with the Stockton Police Department, including some time in the juvenile division.
“I began to see these kids coming through the doors over and over and over again. And I thought I wanted to be in a place where maybe I could offer a little bit more help to those kinds of kids. So I went back to school. My best friend talked me into going to ACU as a law enforcement major, but they didn’t have a law enforcement program. Hardin Simmons did. So, I was in a joint degree program and went to school there. I could only afford to go there for one year, then finish up there one year, and then go back out to California to Cal State. And in one year, I finished there with a degree in administration justice. I was pursuing a young lady who lived here at ACU. And so I knew I had to kind of have to move out here if that was going to work out. And so I moved out here, and that worked out,” Williams shared.
Since then, he has dedicated 43 years of his life to serving the county, with 15 years spent as a county commissioner. Recently, a friend asked him if he would consider running for office again. He replied that he would only run if he were still happy with his work.
“In fact, if I rolled over in the morning, and I’m like, ‘Man, I gotta go do that job again today.’ That’s usually an indication it’s probably time to step out. But I haven’t gotten there. I mean, I love what I do, and I’m able to help way more people than I ever realized I was doing at the juvenile department. You know, juvenile work is all confidential. So you put a lot of effort into kids and their families, but other than your superiors, nobody really knows what you did. And even sometimes you’re not sure what you did until maybe if several years later and you see those young people and they stayed out of trouble and you go like okay, well we were successful turn helping you turn yourself around,” Williams said.
Williams participated in a candidate forum presented by the Taylor County Republican Party on Monday. While he aligns with more conservative beliefs, he stated that he represents everyone, not just a political party.
“My yard signs don’t say which party because the truth of the matter is I represent everybody. On this level of government, party affiliation is a little less significant, but it’s the way you get elected. So, I claim that, but the truth is, I represent everybody when the commissioner’s court is in there, and I and people that aren’t even necessarily in my precinct, people that are just in the county, we make decisions for the county at large. And so, even though they may not be able to vote for me, I’m making decisions for them. Whether they live in my precinct or not, I get phone calls from other people who live in other precincts, from time to time, asking questions about a lot going on, and I try to point them back to their commissioners. But that’s just kind of an indication of the way that works is that as far as I’m concerned, there’s no lines that I have to worry about. I’m a commissioner at large. I serve a certain group of people for their particular needs,” Williams explained.
Williams shared that he wants to see local businesses thrive and gave an example of a time when he put Taylor County residents first.
“We were approached about doing tax abatement for the new downtown hotel. And it wasn’t that I was for it or against it at the time, but a number of things were told to us in Commissioner’s court from representatives of that process that didn’t quite sit right with me didn’t seem correct. So I was the only person who went out and visited the 19 largest hotels in town, their owners and managers, and they were angry, they were extremely angry. They were angry that the city was bringing in a competition that was going to, in some of their cases, they said it would more than likely put them out of business. That’s not really what I think the government ought to be doing. So I passed on doing tax abatement for that project, because it put a corporate hotel into a financial advantage over existing businesses. And I don’t think that’s what government should be doing,” Williams recalled. “It’s not that I’m against it. When we were approached through DCOA about Lancium coming, a lot of people didn’t know what they did. It has to do with Bitcoin mining, and it’s over my head, believe me. But it is a very large project… The first thing I asked them was, ‘Is there anybody else around here doing what you’re doing?’ And they said, No, and probably not even in the United States. And I said, Okay, well then let’s talk. It was a competitive deal, and so I was more than happy to work with the city and the DCOA, as a county commissioner, to try to attract that business here.”
He added that when it comes to tax abatements, he asks, “Are you coming in and going to be competing with existing businesses? And if so, I have no interest in doing that.”
Williams explained that each precinct commissioner has different aspects to focus on. For example, Williams covers Dyess Air Force Base.
“I’m on military affairs and have been nearly the whole time I’ve been a commissioner. I went with a group of representatives from this area regarding Dyess to Washington, DC, and we talked to representatives and their senators there about the importance of that B-21 Bomber coming here. Not only that but the importance of continuing research and development on the B-1. And we’re still flying B-52 and updating that that platform. But along with Dyess, everyone knows the value Dyess brings to our community and to our country,” Williams said.
He added that because of the extraterritorial jurisdiction, some residents have had trouble when it comes to property rights in the area.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that because Dyess is out there, the people who property around that fence line, their property rights can get trampled on if it’s not really if we’re not careful. So even before I became a commissioner, I was invited to a meeting out there, and the city had passed an airport zoning ordinance that was really quite onerous and damaging to their property rights. And so we had a meeting with the City Council, and some city assistant city managers and sat down, me and the property owners, pointed out to him what they had done, and to their credit, they stepped back and said, well, let’s recraft this thing. So, for 18 months, we worked on the airport zoning ordinance and got it to where nobody got exactly what they wanted, but we could live with it,” Williams said. “They [the property owners] have no one to speak for him other than me. They can’t vote. They’re in what’s called the ETJ, the extraterritorial jurisdiction, which is a five-mile ring around the city limits. And in that area, the city of Abilene can impose certain kinds of restrictions or requirements. And they can’t vote for city council people. So they’ve got no voice in city council; all they’ve got is me. I’ve told them that as long as Dyess is out there, they need to be vigilant and not let their guard down about the potential of their property rights getting hammered a little bit.”
When asked why he believes that voters should choose him, he replied:
“If I was gonna go to a surgeon, and I have to work on my hands, I’m a musician, I want to get the best surgeon I can get. I went to a surgeon in Abilene, and he said he couldn’t guarantee a positive outcome. Not good enough. So I did more research, and I ended up going to Austin and found a fine surgeon who operated on both my hands; I can still play with no problem because I wanted somebody with experience. And that fella had plenty of experience. And I think that’s what our citizens expect,” Williams shared. “They want people looking at budgets $85 million dollar budget, they want people looking at that who have experience in working with these large budgets, and they who have experience and try and taking a number and paring it down in any way you can do that to get it where it’s reasonable. And I’ve done that every year for the last 15 years with the help. You don’t do anything by yourself but with the help of other members of the county commissioners, court, and auditor department heads. So yeah, I would appreciate the support of folks out there. They thought enough of my work to put me back in the office for previous times. And I am hoping I get the support of everyone to do that one more time.”