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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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Opinion: The Role of a County Judge


Courthouse | Image by Darryl Brooks

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Local “politics” isn’t political. It’s made political and divisive to keep you and me out of it because who in the world would want to engage in the nasty business of politics? No one.

It’s actually about the governance of The People. The People have an active interest in governance because it directly affects them. True governance is right and good, proper, and civil. Governance is for the good of The People. Politics is manipulative, often dishonest, and gets really nasty quickly. Politics is about special interests.

Don’t Let Emotions Win

So why would someone make local governance issues political? A simple answer: power, control, influence, and money. Politics is BIG business. If those who desire control can inflame emotions and distract from what the issues are really about, then they can do whatever they want while the people are distracted.

It’s a tried and true tactic that magicians actually make use of. Magicians know enough about the human experience to know that if they can keep the mind focused on one thing, they can have time to perform their “magic.”

The human heart as the seat of emotion will always override the cool data calculations of the brain. It’s the way the human body is wired. It’s a survival skill. You and I can be standing in the same room and smell the exact same thing and I could have fond memories and you could have a fight or flight response.

For example, the smell of a certain pie could remind me of a loving grandmother and put you in a fight or flight response because your grandmother was abusive and mine wasn’t. Same pie. Same smell. Different physiological response. Emotion is biochemically embedded in the human system to cut off higher order thinking because if I’m about to be eaten by a lion, the body doesn’t want me sitting there evaluating my options–it wants me to get the heck out of dodge and think later.

So if someone can activate human emotion, they can circumvent and hijack the brain. Ergo, those who do so, either knowingly or unknowingly, are after something. In the modern world, not many of us are at risk of a lion chasing us, so bad actors have to

create environments and narratives that make you feel like you’re about to be chased by a lion so they can get what they want out of you. And those things are often money, power, and control.

We The People have had our local communities hijacked in many ways (all the way up to the top!) and it’s time to wake up, engage, and take it back before it’s too late.

It’s Time to Pay Attention

Local leadership roles are about governance, NOT politics. It’s time that we the citizens begin to understand what the job descriptions are for those that run our city and hold those in those positions accountable. Running a city is like running a business. And you can do it well or not so well. Except that if I run my business poorly, you can choose another business. If I run the city poorly…well, we all suffer. We are running out of cities to turn to. We have to start here.

If you’re anything like me, you didn’t pay one lick of attention to local leadership positions until 2020 hit. It’s horrendous to say and I feel ashamed to say it, but it’s true. I have a lot to learn, but how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And guess how I’ll never understand city governance? If I never try. My child deserves more and so does the next generation of phenomenally talented Dallasites. Will we really allow apathy to rob our next generation?

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, is one of the best business writers and researchers out there. According to Jim, one of the keys to any successful business, organization, or city is getting the right people in the right seats on “the bus.” Well it’s time to get the right people in the right seats on the bus called Dallas, Texas.

What Does a Dallas County Judge Do?

For example, did you know that the County Judge position is actually more like a CEO of the city than a judge? Many people hear the word “judge” and think of someone in a black robe sitting on a bench who went to law school. However, that is not the role of the county judge. It’s more like an election judge. Again, we hear “judge” and we think that somehow that role should be an attorney. Far from it. It’s actually someone who runs the joint. So an election judge runs that particular polling location. And a County Judge runs the city. Even in the Bible, “Judges” is about the leaders of the time. Yes,

they were well versed in the law, but basically they were running the communities. It’s really refreshingly simple.

As I read about the role of a county judge (don’t take my word for it, please read it for yourself (Texas Constitution and 2021 Guide to Laws for County Officials). I thought, “Wow! This is a bit of a misnomer. The public thinks this person needs to be an attorney, when in fact the general personality prototype of an attorney (there are always exceptions of course) is not the type who really thrives in CEO-type positions!”

The role of County Judge is pretty simple: to effectively be the CEO of the city. What does the CEO do? He/she oversees & leads all pillars of the entity. In this case, it’s overseeing the commissioners’ court and specific statutes like elections, finance, bonds and sureties, court operations, mental health, special districts, and general administration.

But what else does a CEO do? They lead by example. They set the pace that filters through the whole organization. Who they are and what they stand for trickles down throughout the entire system. Think about the different places you’ve worked and different organizations you’ve been involved with. Think about how you feel when you’re there. The unseen atmosphere may be even more important than the “seen” in an atmosphere. It’s the notion of one saying, “I can’t put my finger on it, but I like the way I feel when I’m there.”

For example, I’ve worked in places where I felt totally free to share my gifts and abilities. I was championed, valued, and often my ideas were put into practice. I was not the boss by any means, but I was valued for what I brought to the table and not only did I thrive, but the organization thrived because it allowed each individual person to bring their knowledge, skill, and ability into action for the good of all. I wasn’t oppressed, abused, or micromanaged.

By contrast, I’ve also worked in places where no matter how hard I worked or how much effort I’d put into projects and tasks, they were picked apart and endlessly criticized. Then those same people would take my ideas and pawn them off as their own when it suited them. Nightmare.

One environment breeds and cultivates life, profits, creativity, flourishing, and joy while one cultivates death, stinginess, discontent, conformity, and misery. Which list of attributes do we want to be characterizing our city?

What Do We Really Want?

Did you know that crime is significantly up in our city? Did you know Dallas County population numbers are dropping because people are fleeing for surrounding counties that have better environments? Did you know that businesses are leaving Dallas County because the environment is so bureaucratic and difficult to work within that it’s just not worth the hassle? The Dallas Express is one of the few local entities that is regularly reporting on these truths. It benefits no one to stick our heads in the sand.

So Dallas, let’s get to know our county roles, starting with Dallas County Judge, since that’s effectively our CEO and work our way from there. Let’s hire someone in the coming days who will create an environment in which we can all prosper and thrive in, and not one in which we feel utterly oppressed, abused, confused, afraid, & sleepy in.

Doesn’t our beautiful city and her people deserve that? I sure think so.

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Carrie Elise Simms
Carrie Elise Simms
2 months ago

Fantastic article! 100% agree!

2 months ago

Recall Clay Jenkins