PEOPLE TomRamsey Harris County Precinct 3 commissioner
BY SHAWN ARRAJJ
CIVIL ENGINEERING • 42-year career completing projects in 50 cities and 20 counties • Projects included the Hardy Toll Road, a Harris County Drainage Plan update and Precinct 3 road improvements MAYOR OF SPRING VALLEY VILLAGE • Named Elected Official of the Year in 2017 by the University of Houston’s Master of Public Administration program • Oversaw city’s ascent to being named the safest city in Harris County according to FBI statistics
Newly elected Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey is aware he is joining the Harris County Commissioners Court during a time of great challenges. In a Jan. 19 interview with Community Impact Newspaper, Ramsey said he is prepared to take those challenges on. His first few weeks on the court involved a series of budget hearings for each of the county’s departments before the fiscal year 2021-22 budget is adopted in March. Ramsey discussed those con- versations, the big topics he expects to be a part of in 2021 and his plans for running the precinct for residents from Cy-Fair to Katy to Bellaire and beyond. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
AFTER THE ELECTION, WHAT DID YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR UPCOMING TERM? I’ve been preparing for that for 45 years. I’ve actually functioned as an engineer that has worked for more than 20 counties and 50 cities in Texas. Much of what I’ve done related to roads, engineering and design work and consulting with those public entities I think has well prepared me for what lies ahead. I, pretty much immediately after the election, assumed a role in Precinct 3 working with Commis- sioner [Steve] Radack. That gave us a couple of months to effectively transition on some near-term issues. I also was able to attend some training with the Texas Asso- ciation of Counties. We’ve got some pretty big issues in Harris County, and I wanted to be as prepared as I could be. AS THE COURT GETS CLOSER TOADOPTING THE 2021-22 BUDGET INMARCH, WHAT ARE YOUR TOP PRIORITIES? I was encouraged by what seemed like a consistent theme within the Commissioners Court that we really have to watch our budgets this year. This isn’t the year to start significantly increasing. As we went through each one of the budget hearings, we communicated that as a group. There were many asks. I think we are vetting those now. What I’ve learned through the years is, whether good times or bad times, you’ve got to maintain your infrastructure. Once you get out of the cycle you’ve got trouble, and you’ll never catch up. I’m looking very closely and being sure we maintain those investments, whether it’s park-related, flood
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIG CONVERSATIONS YOU EXPECT THE COMMISSIONERS COURT TO TAKE ON IN 2021 THAT YOUARE LOOKING FORWARD TO? We’re going to do some different things in terms of how we can get more involved in our neighbor- hoods and bring the crime rate down. There are some things the county is doing we need to stop doing. There are some things the county can begin to start doing. Any family in Precinct 3 should feel safe at home, and right now families in Precinct 3 in some neighborhoods don’t feel safe, and that’s not right. I’m looking forward to some big conversations with the [Army] Corps of Engineers. I talked to one of the colonels last week, and I let him know my expectations. You can go up on Greenhouse Road at Mayde Creek north of I-10. If you look upstream, the county main- tains it [and] it looks great. You look downstream and it looks horrible and needs to be maintained. The Corps has agreed to getting that cleaned up. That impacts 1,203 people, so it’s a big deal. HOWDO YOU PLAN TO STAY ON TOP OF GROWTH IN PRECINCT 3? Part of it is our 10-year plan. I don’t know of hardly anybody that has that kind of a plan where they will actually give you a date when all of our roads are going to be up to standard. The other thing I hear far too often is that the master-planned communities are a problem. Those are some of the greatest resources we have in Harris County. What they are required to do in order to build their communities is
control or road-related. The other thing is safe neighbor- hoods. As mayor of Spring Valley [Village] we were able to achieve and still are considered the safest neighborhood in Harris County. I want Precinct 3 to be the safest precinct in Harris County. That’s not just talk; you have to invest in that. We’re going to be looking at ways that we can partner with folks. I’ll be meeting with the leaders, whether city of Houston leaders or within our own county. There are all the other municipalities within Precinct 3—West University, Bel- laire, the villages, Katy—that have extraordinarily good police folks. HOWWILL YOU RUN THE OFFICE DIFFERENTLY THAN FORMER COMMISSIONER STEVE RADACK, ANDHOW WILL YOU CONTINUEWHAT HE STARTED? We’re going to build on his legacy. When he started there were six parks in Precinct 3. Today there are 63. That’s just amazing that over three decades you were able to, by tenfold, increase the number of parks. Precinct 3 has a 10-year pavement management plan. We’re in year five. In another five years, our roads in Precinct 3 in the unincorporated area on a road log are going to be up to par. What I will put a lot of priority on is communication. I’ve been around the precinct, and they want to hear from us. I heard it in the campaign. I’ve brought somebody on board to deal with our com- munity involvement. We have 451 square miles [and] 1.3 million folks that live in Precinct 3. We have to be really good in terms of how we’ll be communicating with them.
GET IN TOUCH
Commissioner Tom Ramsey 1001 Preston St., Houston. 713-755-6306 Westside Service Center 16635 Clay Road, Houston 281-463-6300. www.pct3.com Parks department 16215 Clay Road, Ste. 214, Houston 281-531-1592. www.pct3.com extraordinary, and they do it. They go typically above and beyond. I would call that incredibly great for our growth and our future if we keep doing those sorts of things that allow for quality development that don’t have negative impacts. I’m a jobs guy. We’ve got just in flood control, nearly $5 billion in construction projects. For every billion in construction, that’s 21,700 jobs. So if we … urgently approach getting those construction proj- ects underway, we’re going to get people to work. We’re going to have a jobs fair before May. We’re going to connect the people that need to work with the jobs. WHAT ARE THE TOP GOALS YOU ARE HOPING TOACCOMPLISH IN PRECINCT 3 BEFORE 2024? It’s family quality of life. I’m going to say that over and over. We decided our priorities, but what we do affects families, and—whether it’s safe neighborhoods, whether it’s a reasonable expectation that you can drive down your road and not hit 10 potholes, whether it’s a reasonable expectation to not be flooded every few months—we can do all of those better. Businesses need help. They’ve been put upon I think, whether it’s taxes or shutdowns or other things. The govern- ment is really the facilitator to get things done. The [government] can either be the regulator and slow everything down, or we can be the facilitator. We’re going to be the facilitator.
CY-FAIR EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
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