Retired Maj. Gen. John Furlow, a local certified public accountant, announced Thursday he would seek the Republican nomination for Smith County Judge.
Furlow, 57, said he will bring a “bottom line, results oriented approach” to county government. He said his 31-year military career and business background as an accountant give him the leadership skills and experience needed to manage county departments and prepare its budget.
Furlow said his first action would be to defer the pay increases County Judge Joel Baker and commissioners approved in 2007 and accept the $59,324 base pay and supplemental funding from the state.
“I’ve always been opposed to the way those raises were implemented,” he said.
Furlow said he would implement “genuine transparency” and limit the number of times county business is done during executive session. Agenda items are allowed to be discussed in executive session if they involve land transactions and personnel.
“I understand how government is funded and how it works and those critical decisions should be entirely on the record,” he said.
Furlow said he would begin every budget process with a zero-based budget rather than starting with the previous budget. He said each commissioner, department head and elected official would have input but must justify each dollar.
He pledged that he would not raise taxes but rather look at efficiencies and ways to reduce costs.
Developing a comprehensive, long-term business plan will be another focus. He said a long-term plan is needed to help the county prioritize for the future.
“We need a plan that identifies our needs and what we can expect with regard to revenues for the next 30 years,” he said.
Hiring a fleet manager to determine the life of the county’s vehicles, from patrol cars to dump trucks, will be part of that plan, he said. Furlow said too much money is being spent maintaining vehicles that should be replaced.
Furlow also wants to implement a “performance pay” system which measures and rewards employee performance. He said pay raises and bonuses should not be based on longevity.
“I’ve spent my adult life serving. I’ve served in the military, on boards of community organizations and running for county judge is another opportunity to serve,” he said. “I don’t think the current leadership and vision is preparing Smith County for the future.”
Baker has not announced his political intentions. He is in his second term as county judge.