EDITOR’S NOTE: Both candidates vying in Tuesday’s Republican Primary runoff election for Ellis County Commissioner Precinct 3 requested the opportunity to submit a column in today’s edition of the Daily Light to highlight both their platforms and record in office. Incumbent Commissioner Heath Sims’ column is published on Page 9A. The column for his challenger, Paul Perry, is published below. With election day on Tuesday, both candidates were given equal opportunity to present their views independently. Voting will take place from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Polling wards are published on Page 3A of today’s edition.

Americans, Texans and Ellis Countians are generous people. We want to do things for folks. But before we ever raise taxes to do more for others, we need to ask, “Who are we really willing to take the money from, however small an amount?”

In a recession, are we willing to take $20 from a single mom with two or three kids, who is working two jobs and paying for day-care and feeding and clothing her children? How about a young couple who scrimped and saved to get their starter home and are lucky to have $5 left over at the end of the month? Most of us have been there.

We make it harder for folks to do for themselves when we take money from them through taxes. In fact, in hard times, every tax increase pushes prosperity that much further away for the average family.

When the county commissioners’ court voted 3 to 2 to raise our tax rate in response to a temporary two-year shortfall caused by court-awarded damages to a company that was over-valued by our appraisal district, was it really appropriate to set what will probably be a permanent higher county tax rate in response?

The Republican Party of Ellis County executive committee voted in a ratio of 2 to 1 to censure those who voted for the tax increase. Also, the Tea Party disapproved of this tax increase. There has been some confusion during this campaign, but that is the public record, and the public record speaks for itself.

I, for one, think the vote to raise taxes was bad management. Historically, once tax rates go up, they don’t go down significantly.

The appraised value of your home or business times the tax rate of the county, school district and any city you might live in determines the amount of taxes you might pay.

That particular property in question, owned by a cement company, is in the Midlothian area.

I won’t second guess the company for suing over a high appraisal. Many of us have contested appraisal values, but I do disagree with our county’s response to the court’s ward. Simply put: A majority on the commissioners’ court did not try hard enough to avoid a tax increase.

In the short run, the majority on the commissioners’ court seem to have painted themselves into a box by relying on their rate increase; however, I think the rate increase should be rescinded as soon as practical after the budget is adjusted.

Given that the tax rate increase passed by a vote of 3 to 2, it is a simple fact that if at least one other commissioner (or county judge) had held the line on raising taxes, we would not have had a tax increase during what are difficult economic times for most of us. One reason I am running for office is because I absolutely will hold the line on taxes to protect families, and I believe my professional experience will lend itself to finding common-sense ways of solving budget issues in the future.

Our county government should do just a few things and do them well. County officials need to regularly ask, “Is this something that is good and necessary for the taxpayers?

I also think two terms of service is enough for anyone, and I’ve said I would limit myself to no more than two terms if elected. If two four-year terms is enough for a President, it should be for a county commissioner, as well. Although I think it is important to serve a full term if elected, just as I did when I served as an Ellis County Justice of the Peace in the 1990s, I also believe that officials should live as regular citizens under the regulations that they pass.

The danger of serving too long is that you stop looking at government as a service to taxpayers and start looking at government as something that should perpetuate itself. Not all long-serving officials fall into this trap, but most do.

It’s interesting to me that our county commissioners and county judge are all Republicans, but in response to short-term budget fluctuations, a slim majority sought to take more money from the taxpayers in a recession. This precedent is dangerous for your wallet. Is this a pattern they will now repeat if a clear message is not sent at the polls?

We must look at the income we have and live within our means, just like most of us strive to do in our families.

I have more than 29 years’ experience in the financial industry, as well as more than 13 years’ experience as a mediator. The knowledge and experience gained in both these fields allows me to bring valuable skills to the commissioners’ court. Due to my financial background, I regularly have had to assist people, including other professionals, making million-dollar decisions. As a mediator, I often have had to help businessmen, professionals and families in heated conflicts arrive at decisions that, while in some cases were not perfect, allowed them to go on with their lives.

It has been 14 years since I last ran for office. After several months of being encouraged by friends and family and after prayerful reflection, I decided to enter this race, almost reluctantly, because I fully knew — as a former officeholder and candidate — the huge cost a campaign would have on my family’s tranquility and if elected, the disruption this position would cause in my business.

I just feel like sometimes you have to either put up or shut up.

If elected, I pledge to perform all the duties of county commissioner to the best of my ability and from the point of view of a constitutional conservative who respects your natural rights.

There is an old saying that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. I am fully committed to serving as your next commissioner for precinct 3, and I respectfully ask for your vote.

 

Paul D. Perry is a candidate running in the Republican Party Primary runoff election for Ellis County Commissioner Precinct 3.