Precinct 2 County Commissioner Cary Nix said he was proud of his first term but disappointed he couldn’t deliver on his No.1 campaign promise – addressing county roads.
Nix, 54, a fourth-generation rose grower from Whitehouse, said he believes commissioners are poised to make headway on roads and wants to make sure it is their top priority over the next four years.
He discussed his plans recently with the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
Nix faces James “Barry” Barnett for the GOP nomination in Precinct 2.
Nix said the court made small moves in 2013 to put the county Road and Bridge Department back on track. More than $600,000 was added to its budget, and the court has made it a top priority to hire a civil engineer and consulting firm to produce a comprehensive county road plan. The engineer would oversee the department’s implementation of a countywide road plan according to the consulting recommendations.
Nix said he believes the Road and Bridge Department is doing a great job with the resources it has. He said complaints have reduced since the county entered a “maintenance only” program three years ago. He said department crews stay on top of trouble areas and address constituent complaints.
Addressing roads, however, will come down to money because they are so expensive to build and maintain, he said. Nix said he wants to receive the consulting firm’s plan and then begin an open and honest dialogue with Smith County residents about how to pay for improvements.
Nix responded to Barnett’s accusation that he is not available to constituents by saying he takes pride in answering every phone call, email, letter or text he receives. He said residents are surprised when he calls or messages personally. He said he responds and addresses each individual issue or puts the resident in touch with someone who can.
Nix said commissioners have experienced unprecedented harmony in recent years, and his demeanor fits well among members. He said there are disagreements but that he believes commissioners are working toward a collective goal and have residents’ best interests at heart.
He said he has a good working relationship with members, elected officials and department heads and he feels his personality lends itself to his role as a “go-between” among officials and makes him approachable by department heads and employees.
Nix said Smith County’s property tax rate, the 21st lowest among 254 counties, makes it an attractive place for business and individuals.
He said he believes there will be opportunity for the county to redirect money being spent elsewhere before going to voters for more money. He said bringing the jail expansion online in 2014 would end shipment of prisoners to other counties, which has cost the county almost $20 million since 2004.
Nix said the court’s recent financial frugality, low debt and improved bond ratings give it many options to fund needed projects. He said he would not rule out any option, especially to face needed county road needs, including a tax increase but that it would be his last resort.
Nix said he is seeking a solution to animal control problems that have plagued Smith County since the early 2000s. He said he believes there is opportunity for cooperation between the city, nonprofit organizations and the county to provide an animal shelter/adoption facility that will address all stakeholders concerns in a humane way.