Candidate 2018 profile: Rodney Pat Ramsey

Rodney Pat Ramsey

ELLIS COUNTY — Learn more about Rodney Pat Ramsey in his own words as he runs for Ellis County Judge in the 2018 Republican primary.

Election day voting will be held on March 6, 2018 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click here for a list of election day polling locations. Early voting will take place February 20, 2018 through March 2, 2018. Click here for a list of early voting locations and times.

Click here to view and compare all County Judge candidates' answers on one page.

Rodney Pat Ramsey questionnaire responses

Ellis County Citizen endorses Rodney Pat Ramsey for County Judge during the 2018 elections.

Ellis County Citizen endorses Rodney Pat Ramsey for County Judge during the 2018 elections.

1) Age:

57

2) City of Residence:

Red Oak

3) Years Living in Ellis County:

57

4) Family:

Married with children and grandchildren

5) Education:

Bachelor of Science Degree in Radiologic Science with a management emphasis. Additional undergraduate hours earned in business management from Letourneau University. Juris Doctorate graduate degree from Texas Wesleyan School of Law.

6) Previous Public Office Experience:

I served as Municipal Judge in Bardwell Texas for ten years. I currently serve as Municipal Judge for the City of Oak Leaf. I have also provided legal services as a municipal prosecutor for two years.

7) Occupation:

Attorney

8) Church and Civic Involvement:

I was raised and baptized in the Church of Christ. I still attend a Church of Christ.

9) Please provide a biographical narrative.

I was born in Waxahachie. My parents were second generation Ellis County citizens. I attended public school in Waxahachie schools from elementary through High School.

I attended Cedar Valley College in Lancaster where I received my Associates in Liberal Arts. I also attended LeTourneau University where I was working on my Bachelor of Business Management when I was selected to attend the Baylor University School of Radiologic Technology in Dallas.

I finished the Radiologic program and later received by Bachelors Degree in Radiologic Science from Midwestern State University.

I applied and was accepted to Texas Wesleyan School of Law and started law school in August of 2002. I graduated in December of 2005 and was licensed the following year.

I opened my law practice in Waxahachie in August of 2006, where I still practice today.

I am married to the love of my life, Rebecca. We live in the Red Oak area and we have a blended family with nine children and several grand children.

10) What motivated your interest in running for Constitutional County Judge in Ellis County?

There were many factors that motivated my interest.

First, I feel that I can do a better job as County Judge. I felt that we deserved better.

Secondly I began to see an abandonment of the Conservative Republican platform. There were too many instances where special favors were being provided for a limited few, while others were being denied equal treatment.

The raise sought and received from the salary grievance committee was the last straw. It became obvious that something had to be done, and someone would have to challenge the current Judge in the next election.

My motivation is to return the position of County Judge to someone who appreciates and respects our people. I am not motivated by money or ego. I have accomplished many things in this life and am in a good place. I am happily married, my family is in good health, and I am Blessed by God.

I think we deserve better than what we have had, and am willing to do my best to see that you get it.

11) Briefly and succinctly define the job responsibilities of the office you are seeking.

I will try but there are over one hundred pages of the duties and responsibilities. I will list a few and let you know that I am knowledgeable of the remainder.

First, the County Judge is a voting member of the Commissioners Court and has many of the same duties as the Commissioners. The county judge is both presiding officer of the commissioners court (Tex. Const. Art. V, Sec. 18) and judge of the county court (Tex. Const. Art. V, Sec. 15). The Judge also represents the county in many administrative functions.

The Judge also serves as budget officer in counties with fewer than 225,000 residents, like ours, and also serves as the head of emergency management for the County.

In some Counties, but not ours, the Judge may also hold broad judicial duties, including presiding over misdemeanor criminal and small civil cases, probate matters and appeals from the Justice of the Peace Court. I do not foresee taking on any of those responsibilities if elected.

The Judge also holds many financial and budgetary responsibilities, including; Receiving applications for designation as county depository; Preparation of a revenue estimate from taxes in proposed budget; Filing a copy of a proposed budget with clerk; Obtaining information from any county officer when necessary to budget preparation; Serving as budget officer assisted by auditor and county clerk; Making a report at each regular meeting of commissioners court of any money collected for county; Reporting on money collected must follow statutory format; to sign or attest order for payment issued against county treasurer or have clerk perform this responsibility; signing and approving requisition for purchase of materials before claim can be honored by auditor; Approving any resolution by commissioners court to hire accountant for independent audit, and; to keep accounts of all monies accruing to office, to name a few.

The Judge also has additional duties regarding elections, juvenile services, and bail bonds. There is too much to list. I have a copy of the duties and responsibilities I can share with anyone who wants to see them.

12) What qualifications and professional experiences do you possess that are applicable to county judge responsibilities the position you are seeking requires? Be specific.

There are no requirements for specific degrees and the position does not require the Judge to be an attorney.

According to Article 5, Section 15 of the Texas Constitution, a judge in a county court "shall be well informed in the law of the state.” As a practicing attorney I would consider myself to be well informed of the laws of the State. There are no requirements for a law degree, or for any degree for that matter.

I have a broad based education that includes emphasis in business and personnel management. I have supervised and managed manufacturing facilities and numerous employees. My education and experience make me a valid choice for County Judge.

More importantly I understand the true role of an elected official, being that of a public servant. Something we have been lacking for some time. Additionally, see the answer to question 19 below.

13) What qualifications do you possess that will enable you to manage a budget of over $63 million for Ellis County? Be specific.

I have studied business management, and I have managed business budgets before. I think it important to remember that each elected official is responsible for the preparation and submission of their budgets to the Commissioners Court. Although the County Judge is the budget officer for the County, we must remember that it is a collective effort of all members of the Court to assist in examining and approving our County Budget. It is a math situation and I have that part handled.

I possess the interpersonal skills to achieve that collective effort from our Commissioners, and I possess the educational background to do the math.

We will however need a new look at our old budget process. I am willing to start that review, and with the assistance of our Commissioners I believe we can improve our budget process for the benefit of the people.

14) How has your education and professional experience prepared you for this office?

My educational background in law, medicine, business, emergency response and preparedness; and management provides me with a unique background among the candidates.

I have a broad based educational background that provides me with an advantage for this office. My combined years in law enforcement; hospital experience in trauma and emergency medicine; training in emergency response and preparedness, and my legal experience place me in a unique position above my opponents. Additionally, see answer to question 18 below.

15) Do you own property in Ellis County, and if so, for how long?

I own my home in Red Oak and have for the past 15 years.

16) Have you declared bankruptcy or have had any liens placed upon you in the past 10 years? If so, please explain.

I filed a Ch. 13 Bankruptcy in 2010. We repaid our creditors through the Court and it has since been discharged. I have no liens in the past ten years.

17) Prior to your candidacy, or prior to your election for your first term (for incumbents seeking re-election), have you attended Commissioners' Court meetings? If so, how often during the previous 12 months? If not often, please explain why.

I normally do not have the opportunity to attend the meetings during the day. I do however keep up with the proceedings when I can by watching the videos and speaking with Commissioners.

18) What distinguishes you from your opponent(s)?

First I would say that I am the only candidate that is not in the race for the money. I am in the race for several reasons, but money is not one of them.

Secondly, I was born in Waxahachie, which distinguishes me from the current Judge. Having been raised here, attended school here, and remained here in Ellis County all my life. I have a different perspective about the County. I understand Ellis County values. I understand the daily issues of the Ellis County citizens. This is my home. It is where I have raised my children, and am now raising our grandchildren. I am vested in the future of this County, as are all of our citizens.

Moreover, my experience as a trial attorney in several areas of the law gives me the ability to negotiate, discuss, and mediate issues between opposing parties. I have been part of an adversarial process which requires the skill to work with people and resolve problems. I have been successful in my practice of law and hope to bring that experience to the Commissioners Court.

Lastly, I do not seek this office for prestige or recognition. I do not intend to hold the office more than two terms. The first one to implement my plans for the future, and the second to ensure those plans are followed and to help the next County Judge take over. I have no desire to be a politician whatsoever, just a public servant offering my help for two terms and no more.

19) What are the three greatest challenges facing Ellis County? If elected, what measures would you propose to resolve them?

Our greatest future challenges are all going to be related to growth. We can expect over 200,000 people within the next four years; 300,000 by 2030; and 400,000 people by 2040.

With that amount of growth comes a great deal of growing pains. We must begin to plan for this growth now. We must address the additional needs it will make on our existing infrastructure. I will have a comprehensive plan for growth within the first six months after taking office.

I intend to work closely, not only with our Commissioners, but our local and State officials and citizens to ensure that Ellis County’s growth will be beneficial to our citizens. We can achieve growth while protecting our heritage.

Taxes are always one of our greatest challenges. I intend to work with the Commissioners to see that we get a substantial property tax reduction.

Public safety is always going to be a priority for our future health and safety. We must ensure that we continue to provide those who protect and serves us on a daily basis with the tools and resources they need. With our growth will come increased demands on public safety. I have a few ideas about interlocal agreements with our cities and towns for a cooperative plan for the future and intend to meet regularly with our public safety officials.

20) If elected, what are your top three priorities? How will you work with other elected officials and county staff to achieve them? Be specific.

First I have pledged and promised to return the $70,000.00 a year raise received by the current County Judge. As the budget officer for the office of County Judge I cannot imagine any of our Commissioners objecting to my lowering my own salary. Although I cannot remove it from the existing budget, it will remain unspent.

Secondly, I intend to work closely with our Commissioners to lower our property taxes in an amount that will help our citizens. I know that we have enough money to lower our taxes without placing our County in any financial jeopardy. I believe a comprehensive review of all of the County budgets may be in order and I intend to work closely with our elected officials and department heads to ensure that we are running a fiscally conservative County Government.

Lastly I would like to see a return to a more transparent and open form of government. I will work towards a more productive and open Court. This would include a return to an after-hours Commissioners Court. I do not believe that downtown Waxahachie is a dangerous place after dark. I believe that Waxahachie is a vibrant community which will see more and more growth in the downtown area. There are people that would like to attend the Court, but working during the day makes that impossible.

21) Is there a specific item you would add or remove from the county budget? Please explain.

I have looked at the budget and believe there is room for improvements. Of course it would be unwise to state with certainty what exactly those improvements would be until I have had time to review and study the current situation and speak with all elected officials. I will however be reviewing all department budgets and meeting with elected officials and department heads in search for improvements.

Specifically I am removing the $70,000.00 raise from the first County Judge budget after my election. I intend to return the salary to the previous amount before the raise. The excess will remain in the budget to be utilized in some other area in the next budget. I will not budget for an expensive luxury SUV for conducting County business in any future budgets. I estimate that I will amend and reduce the County Judge Budget by no less than $450,000.00 during my first four year term.

22) If elected, will you work with others to reduce county spending? Please explain how and in what areas.

I would hope that all of our elected officials will have an interest in reducing our county expenditures. I am certain they would be willing to work with me on reducing that spending. It makes everyone nervous when someone starts talking about reducing spending, but it shouldn’t. We cannot afford to reduce spending on items necessary for the continued growth of our County, and the health and safety of our citizens. We must maintain our current infrastructure and provide for future growth in that area.

With proper management and oversight we can however have a lean county government that spends no more than is necessary. I am certain we can provide better services to our citizens, and a better place to work for our employees, all while still cutting taxes. We have the funds to do so and can expect even more revenue in the future to make that happen. I intend to set an example for others to follow.

23) Would you vote to increase or decrease property tax rates? Please explain.

I want property taxes decreased now and will work with the Commissioners to get that done. Everyone must remember that the County Judge is but one member of the Court and needs their support for success. I am going to seek a substantial tax decrease in our property taxes. We can afford to cut our property taxes and our people deserve it.

24) In 2016, County Judge Carol Bush asked a salary grievance board for a raise. She received a $70,000 per year increase in her salary, thus resulting in a 74% increase over her previous $94,835 salary. With a new salary of $165,000, the Ellis County Judge position now pays more than the $153,000 salary of the Texas Governor. What do you believe is a fair salary for the position of County Judge and what would you do to ensure your salary matches what you believe to be a fair salary?

I believe the salary before the raise was a fair salary, and that is what it will be again if I am elected.

25) Would you vote in favor of a pay raise for yourself and other county commissioners during your first and second year in office? Please explain your position.

I have no problem with the standard cost of living raise that is usually around 3 percent. I will not seek any raise above that cost of living amount during my first two years. I will not vote for any raises for our commissioners above the same three percent the first two years.

26) Do you support a raise for non-elected county employees? If so, by how much?

The short answer is yes. Our employees are our biggest asset. To give a blanket statement about how much at this time would be imprudent.

I believe that each department head or elected official is in a better place at this time to determine who among their employees is eligible for a raise. I believe in merit raises and have worked under that system for years. I do believe that the needs of our employees have been ignored in the past.

We need to evaluate where we stand in comparison to other wages in comparably populated counties of our size and demographic.

What I will not do is give a $10,000.00 a year raise to anyone in my office, or approve such conduct from any other office.

27) The current County Judge has been accused of giving select individual non-elected county employees more significant raises than the across-the-board raises for non-elected county employees? Do you believe this is appropriate and fair? Please explain.

It is never appropriate or fair. Each employee is hired to do a certain job for a certain amount of pay. Each job should be based upon the level of experience and education required to successfully perform that job. To give significant raises to a few indicates favoritism to some, and disrespect to others.

28) What will happen with your current occupation if elected?

I will not be able to practice law in Ellis County due to a potential conflict of interest. I will however keep the office open because I have many clients with whom I have developed a relationship. I have two other attorneys in my office that will be taking care of those clients.

I intend to be a full time County Judge with no second job.

29) Name one county program or department you would like to improve. Please explain.

That is a difficult question without my having had the opportunity to discuss the needs and demands of each separate department. I would say that I am supportive of improvement in any and all departments that need or seek improvements. Having said that, I am certainly going to improve the office of County Judge. I intend to meet with all department heads to find areas in need of improvement in their departments also.

30) In recent years there have been situations where other elected officials have had disagreements with some members of the Ellis County Commissioners' Court and the perception of budgetary revenge has ensued from some of those members of the court. How would you handle these situations and what would you do to prevent this from occurring in the future?

There is no need for any member of our Commissioners Court, or an elected official to ever feel personally threatened or abused. We all know there will be disagreements. They are an expected part of the process, but they will be handled in a civil and professional manner.

When I am elected I can assure the citizens, and our elected officials, there will be no perception of revenge or retaliation on my part. I can also assure you that I will not tolerate it. I know these Commissioners and I cannot fathom there ever being a time when we cannot agree to disagree and still remain committed to our duties.

31) If elected, what measures would you take to ensure the efficient operation of Ellis County?

The County Judge has many duties and responsibilities to ensure the efficient operation of the County. Of course the Judge must count on every other elected official to ensure the proper operations of their budgets and offices.

When everyone else is on board with assisting in the efficient operations of the County it makes the County Judge’s job that much easier. I believe that being a more hands, full time County Judge will ensure an efficient operation.

I will take whatever measures necessary to ensure that our County operates as efficiently as possible by ensuring that everyone has the necessary tools and resources to continue efficient operations. If that means more meetings and special sessions, so be it.

32) If elected, what measures would you take to generate economic development opportunities for Ellis County?

I believe that we are in a prime position for future economic development. Our location is close enough to DFW that we can provide the manpower needed by industry and big business. To do so we must actively seek out new businesses and corporations in an attempt to convince them that Ellis County is the place to be.

There are many methods to attracting new business, including tax abatements of incentives. What we must not do is allow too much growth under tax abatements. We must prepare for expansion in our current infrastructure and focus on the needs and requirements of those businesses to encourage them to come to Ellis County.

I will explore and utilize every asset at our disposal to prepare for our future growth. We must present our county as a great place for future businesses.

33) Government transparency has been an issue at all levels of politics for the past few years. Do you feel that the county is transparent enough? If not, what needs to change?

There have been some issues with the lack of transparency.

I will have an open and transparent Court and office. We will do our business in the open for public review.

34) If elected, would you support changing one daytime Commissioners' Court meeting to an evening meeting so that daytime working residents can participate in our county government meetings? If so, how soon would you propose the change after taking office? Please explain your position.

I would like to do that as soon as possible. I would hope the Commissioners would agree with that proposal, and I intent to make it the first month in office.

35) In order to successfully represent the residents of Ellis County you will have to work with people who do not share your opinion on issues. What is your plan to ensure that all residents are fairly represented and that their voice is heard?

The job should not be politically motivated. We have Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, and so forth within our County. I am certain there will be disagreements about what is best for Ellis County.

The main thing is to see that all people’s voices are heard. Every citizen has the right to speak in open forum and give their opinion. Each of us has the right to address our elected officials. This has been missing in the past.

I will do everything I can to address the needs of our citizens, but to say that everyone will always get what they want would be disingenuous. I promise to always do what I believe is best for our County in a professional and respectful manner.

36) If elected, how would you reach out and form relationships with residents of Ellis County and how would you reach out to those residents in the outlying areas of the county?

I am excited to think that I will be able to go out into our different communities and speak with the people. I would hope that I would be able to sit down for breakfast in Maypearl once a month; have lunch in Midlothian; or coffee at different places weekly to discuss what is important to our citizens. I do not believe this has been done enough over the past decade.

I am not afraid to meet with the public. I welcome the opportunity to meet our citizens throughout the County to get their input on our affairs. I am a big supporter of public service and am really looking forward to traveling around Ellis County on a regular basis to ensure their voices are heard.

37) What are the factors on which you will base your decisions as County Judge?

Our Ellis County values; the needs and desires of the people; the needs and desires of our local businesses; and the conservative ideals that have made Ellis County successful.

38) Is there any additional information that you feel voters should know about your political views?

I am a fiscal conservative. I believe in free enterprise and that you should keep what you earn. I believe in smaller government and lower taxes, and I support our people’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am a Christian conservative who is also Pro Life and pro Second Amendment. My views are the same as the majority of those who live here, and I am in good company.

39) Why should voters choose you?

I am the right guy at the right time to ensure a change for the better. I not a politician and I never will be. I am dedicated to acting as a public servant once elected. We have too many politicians and not enough public servants.

I am in this race for all the right reasons. I do not seek the job for personal gain. My life is comfortable, my business is successful, and I am blessed with a healthy family by a loving God. I did not apply for a place on the ballot for my own benefit. I was compelled to do so because I felt that the people of Ellis County deserve better treatment than that they have received.

I saw that our conservative values were not being adhered to or respected. Growing up in Ellis County I remember when things were better, and they will be again. We have been successful and prosperous in Ellis County, but we have seen some of that prosperity squandered irresponsibly.

I hope to return the Court to its Conservative roots, and return the office of County Judge to someone who understands the responsibilities and duties of a public servant.

I am offering to serve our people and our county as a dedicated public servant. If that is what the people seek, then I am their candidate.