Two Elections Back to Back — Why are County Elections Not Local Elections?

QUESTION: WHY IS OUR COUNTY JUDGE ELECTION A STATE ELECTION AND NOT A LOCAL ELECTION?

ANSWER: THE STATE OF TEXAS HAS 254 SUBDIVISIONS CALLED COUNTIES. Rockwall County is a subdivision of state government.

Unlike the cities of Heath, Royse City, McLendon-Chisholm, Fate, Rockwall, and Rowlett which operate under general government, Rockwall County operates under the State of Texas government.

County government is state government.

Reference: Texas State Constitution, Article 11, Sect. 1, “The several Counties of this State are hereby recognized as legal subdivisions of the State.”

Cities are LOCAL governments that fall into one of two categories: less than 5,000 population and greater than 5,000 population.

Reference-1: Texas State Constitution, Article 11, Sect. 4: CITIES AND TOWNS WITH POPULATION OF 5,000 OR LESS

Reference-2: Texas State Constitution, Article 11, Sect. 5: CITIES OF MORE THAN 5,000 POPULATION: ADOPTION OR AMENDMENT OF CHARTERS; TAXES; DEBT RESTRICTIONS.

One big difference between county and city governments is the department heads.

Generally, all county department heads (Treasurer, Tax Assessor-Collector, Sheriff, County Judge, Commissioners, County Clerk, etc. are all ELECTED persons. All of them answer directly to the voters.

In our cities, all department heads are hired and fired by the city managers. The city councils appoint the city manager, the city secretary, and the city lawyer. All other department heads answer to the City Manager.

What about zoning?

Only municipalities—cities— are authorized by the state constitution to control zoning.

Reference: LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE, TITLE 7. REGULATION OF LAND USE, STRUCTURES, BUSINESSES, AND RELATED ACTIVITIES, SUBTITLE A. MUNICIPAL REGULATORY AUTHORITY, CHAPTER 211. MUNICIPAL ZONING AUTHORITY, SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL ZONING REGULATIONS

County governments hold absolutely no authority to prescribe zoning of private properties. None whatsoever!

The State Legislature has created a huge problem by placing restrictions on the authority over their respective ETJ (extra-territorial jurisdiction) of cities. The consequence of such legislation has created a monster. As my former pastor used to say, referencing those old Japanese monster movies, “The way you know it’s a monster is it has two heads.” Those MUDs and PIDs will become a governmental monster.

The disastrous legislation has empowered municipal utility districts (MUDs) and public improvement districts (PIDs) while removing zoning authority from the cities.

What you read above are FACTS OF LAW, not the opinions of this old man.

A candidate in the runoff election has as his number one goal, “density control” of unincorporated properties in this county. If elected, he may actually persuade a majority of the County commissioners to go along with him, but I can readily predict the ultimate outcome: we will lose the lawsuits.

How can I be so certain of the outcome of the inevitable and costly lawsuits to follow? History.

The court has some authority over independent sewer plants. The court attempted to limit population density on one project by limiting the size of a package sewer plant. The developer won; we the taxpayers lost. Why? The developer had the law on his side.

In this upcoming runoff election, I will vote for David Sweet. Why? He actually knows the duties of a county judge and he has served us very well through two election cycles.

David learned the limits of municipal government by serving on the Rockwall City Council as a Councilman and as Mayor.

On a personal note, the David Sweet whom I have known over many years is a gentleman. I have never heard him speak ill of any person, privately or publicly. He is not a man given to profane outbursts. David is always a gentleman.

On a much more personal note, when my son unexpectedly died, David was the second person to console me and my family. My friend Ken Dickson who lived nearby was the first.

I don’t know how he meets with so many people daily but I do know he is always available to his constituents. When a tornado ravaged a large section of the city of Rowlett, County Judge David Sweet was there on the scene to make sure our county residents got all the emergency services necessary.

Here is a link to a sample ballot https://bit.ly/3F8pncl

You are permitted to mark up this ballot and use it while voting. Voters are NOT allowed to use their cell phones while in the polling place.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

Published by John White

A lifetime (over 50 years) of experiences with automation and control systems ranging from aerospace navigation, radar, and ordinance delivery systems to the world's first robotic drilling machine for the oil patch, to process-control systems, energy management systems and general problem-solving. At present, my focus is on self-funding HVAC retrofit projects and indoor air quality with a view to preventing infections from airborne pathogens.

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