By Kaitlyn Benacquisto
Blog Content Contributor
Will Conley is a Republican candidate running for Hays County judge. Here is the low-down on who he is, why he’s running, and his platform.
First, the question that no one wants to ask, but everyone is wondering: what does the county judge do?
County judges have no judicial authority, although they can enroll in courses once elected to satisfy the ability to become a judicial judge. For now, just get the image of a judge in court banging a gavel out of your head! Either way, the main role of the county judge is administrative. Will Conley told me to think of the county judge as the CEO of the county, with the commissioners court as the executive body of the county. The commissioners court is made up of four commissioners from the four precincts in Hays County and the county judge is the chair of the court. The commissioners court deals with roads, transportation, taxes, conservation, budgeting, record keeping, criminal justice system and emergency services. County judges are directly in charge during emergency events, such as catastrophic flooding. The county judge also initiates the budget process and sets up the first preliminary budget in the county.
Who is Will Conley?
Conley moved to San Marcos in 1995 to attend Texas State University and has remained in Hays County ever since. He got a degree in political science and business in 2000 and then opened a small auto business in the area. During his days as a Bobcat, he was actively involved in politics and campaigning. He describes himself as connected to his family and community.
“I’m a community person, a family man, somebody that has very deep roots here in San Marcos and in Hays County, an outdoorsman; that’s basically all the time I have in my life today between my family, my public work, [and being a] small business owner,” Conley said.
Why is he the person for the job?
Conley has held the position of county commissioner for precinct three since 2004. He got re-elected for four terms, only recently stepping down to run for the position of county judge. As a commissioner, Conley has had the experience of working on and with the court that he could potentially be chairing if elected as county judge. He has a history of political involvement from when he was a student at Texas State from a local to federal level.
“I learned a lot and met a lot of different people, and I always hoped I’d get the opportunity to perhaps serve one day,” Conley said, referring to his political activism in college.
What will he do for San Marcos, the fastest growing county in 2016, as it continues to expand?
Conley currently chairs the Transportation Policy Board for CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization), where he and others that serve on the board make decisions on CAMPO policy and decide how funding is allocated. CAMPO works to improve mobility throughout central Texas through transportation planning. Conley also was an “architect of [Hays County] conservation plan,” and “had a big part in developing our economic development branch.” Along with a history in transportation planning and economic development, Conley also has a history with conservation efforts. Conley says he led the effort in developing the Spring Lake Reserve, adjacent to Aquarena Springs and River Systems Institute.
“I have a long record of fighting for our natural resources, protecting our natural resources and I think you can have the best of both worlds,” Conley said. “I think you can continue to grow and protect those resources at the same time. But it takes a lot of effort and a lot of skill set to be able to strike that balance and given the opportunity to represent this community again, I look forward to being able to continue to do that work.”
What other issues are on the candidate’s agenda?
Emergency services: Conley wants to develop emergency communications facilities, programs and protocols in Hays County. He spoke of a new emergency communication facility that will be built in San Marcos, giving first responders more protection and a better response time while working with citizens.
Veterans affairs: Conley spoke about the “prolific veterans service” in Hays County by Veteran Services Officer Jude Prather, who has been recognized by the state for his work. Conley says that as a local representative, his job is to advocate for local veterans to the best of his ability. He spoke about taking veterans to the doctors and to San Antonio for the military facilities that exist there.
“One of the last projects I was apart of, there was a widowed woman in Hays County, and her husband was a Korean War veteran,” Conley said. “She could not get the benefits that her husband and her family had earned through their service. We were able to get her a check for about $456,000 from the federal government that will help take care of her for the rest of her life, and help take her of her family.”
Mental health: Conley says that although we have been building and providing some mental health services and facilities in Hays County, the county is growing so rapidly that all facilities in our region are currently maximized. Conley wants to develop the facilities that already exist by expanding current partnerships, such as that with the Scheib Center, which serves those with developmental disabilities and mental health services, and already has roots in San Marcos.
“I really want to have a huge focus on mental health issues, drug rehabilitation, alcoholism,” said Conley. “We’ve made some strides in that over the past ten years, but there’s much more that we can do to help those that are struggling and dealing with those addictions and I plan on making that a focus in my administration.”
You can access more information about Will Conley and his platform here. Early voting begins Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 2, and Election Day is Nov. 6.
Featured photo by Victoria Vasquez.