Precinct 1 Commissioner Ray Gonzalez served on Wichita Falls City Council for two terms before he ran for county commissioner eight years ago.
“I enjoyed that type of work, of serving and giving back to the community, and I thought, ‘Well, this is my time to fulfill my dream and run for county commissioner,” he said.
Since taking office in 2008, Commissioner Gonzalez said he has cut his precinct’s budget by over 30%, and he said, if elected again, he would continue to find ways to save money while still providing all the necessary services.
“I want to represent the people and make sure that what we’re doing is the most responsible, afforable and reasonable options,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s opponent, Mark Beauchamp, said his job as the Traffic Department Superintendent has more than prepared him to hit the ground running if elected as a county commissioner.
“The more I looked into it, the more I saw a need, particularly in the area of things that just seem to be moving so slowly,” Beauchamp said. “And I understand from being in a government agency my whole career that things move at a snail’s pace at times, but sometimes it just doesn’t have to be that way.”
One hot topic that both candidates touched on was the Wichita County jail situation.
“We’re working toward that real good, and I think the next time they come inspect us, we’ll get a good grade and pass that inspection,” Gonzalez said.
But Beauchamp said the jail is one of the very things that action needs to be taken on ASAP.
He said the county should build a new facility rather than just put a band-aid on standing issues.
“We’ve talked the same thing over and over and over againm, ad nauseam, and all we’ve done is kicked the can further down the road and left it,” he said. “21 years ago it was a problem, and now our children, it’s left to them.”
In fact, both candidates agreed a new facility, at some point or another, is necessary; the problem is making it affordable and feasible for the taxpayers.
The winner of the primary will face Democrat Larry Donohoo in the November General election.