Commissioners Court Candidate Slams Dallas County’s Inefficiencies

Republican candidate Jason Metcalf
Republican candidate Jason Metcalf | Image by Jason Metcalf/Facebook

Republican candidate Jason Metcalf is running for Dallas County Commissioners Court Precinct 1, bringing with him unexpected attention to the traditionally low-profile race.

Metcalf candidly spoke to The Dallas Express about how he believes the Democrat-stacked commissioners court in Dallas County has been allowed to continue questionable practices under the radar.

The commissioners court consists of four commissioners and one county judge. Dallas County is divided into four districts, and each district’s voters elect their commissioner to a four-year term.

The Dallas County Commissioners Court plays a crucial role in managing various county affairs, such as setting tax rates and overseeing transportation, infrastructure, public safety, public health, welfare, and social services. The court is also responsible for administering justice by supervising the county jail, district courts, and justice of the peace courts.

The court’s function permeates deep and wide, reaching every citizen at some level in Dallas County, which includes roughly 2.6 million people, according to the last census. As such, Metcalf stressed the importance of understanding who makes the decisions. The court is currently made up of five Democrats: Theresa Daniel (District 1), Andy Sommerman (District 2), John Wiley Price (District 3), Elba Garcia (District 4), and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

It is worth noting that four of the five individuals on the court have held their position for over 10 years: Daniel for 11 years, Garcia and Jenkins each for 13 years, and Price for 39 years. Sommerman, who has held the position for the shortest amount of time at one year after unseating Republican J.J. Koch, secured his seat after District 2 was reconfigured, according to Metcalf.

Metcalf is an experienced business consultant who went to law school, is a member of the State Bar, and graduated with three majors: economics, political science, and international studies. As such, he said he has a penchant for looking at the numbers and recognizing when things do not add up.

Case in point, Metcalf explained that in 2021, Dallas County hired Democratic political strategist Matt Angle of Angle Strategies to help redistrict the court’s precincts. Angle founded The Lone Star Project, which touts on its website that “Defeating Republicans in Texas is hard and not for the faint-hearted. Every dollar invested and every hour spent must be focused on finding and helping responsible Democrats replace failed Republicans. Beating Republicans is our bottom line.”

“Based on Angle’s analysis, the Dallas County [Commissioners Court] moved areas [such as Lake Highlands, Lakewood, North Garland] out of District 2 so that Republicans would have a minority in District 2. The result was that J.J. Koch lost his re-election bid to Democrat Andrew Sommerman in 2022,” said Metcalf, noting that this partisan gerrymandering plays into a “doom loop” in Dallas County where “[Republicans] don’t run because they think they won’t win, and they don’t win because they don’t run,” he said.

After doing some research, Metcalf said he found organizational cracks in the Dallas County Commissioners Court. “This is a 1.7-billion-dollar organization that is poorly run, from its IT to how it handles employee matters,” he said.

The court is “managed by two personal trial attorneys, a school administrator, a dentist, and a political activist,” said Metcalf. “They are not trained on the details of how to manage something as large as Dallas County. From the court systems to the jail, to the elections department, all these things require numbers and budgets and an understanding of how organizations work.”

Metcalf said the current court is “very involved in DEI and putting on a show in helping the community, but not actually providing the services.”

When asked what issues need to be addressed, Metcalf pointed to property taxes.

“Our property tax rate has gone up three times the rate of inflation. However, the population in Dallas County and Dallas City has declined, yet our residential property taxes went up 10% last year. Dallas County commissioners control about a third of our taxes, making up a good chunk of what taxpayers pay,” he said.

“The taxes keep going up while the services keep getting poorer over a smaller population,” said Metcalf. “We should be looking at our population growth as well as our economic growth. Instead, the court has relied on the rise of property values each year and has just ridden that wave. Not only that, the court took advantage of $250 million of CARES Act money and has been using this money, which runs out in 2014.”

“I don’t think [the court] realizes that they have gotten so fat and happy that they have not brought in any discipline in how they are spending the money,” he added.

Metcalf said he was trying to bring attention to this local race as he believes many do not understand the current court’s continued effect on residents. “Everyone is pacing the national races, but we forget that from a local perspective, we are actually more impacted,” he said.

One local impact Metcalf mentioned was the Dallas County jail. “The county commissioners want to tear it down and build it somewhere else,” he said. “Clay Jenkins said it was prime property a year ago and wanted [Dallas] to sell it.”

Metcalf explained that Jenkins created a committee to determine what was going on with the jail, and “lo and behold, the committee came back with a report saying they couldn’t repair the jail, even repair it in its location, and that they recommend building it somewhere else,” he said.

“[The court] wants to raise taxes and a bond to pay for it. There was a whole meeting in December where [the commissioners court] presented a 95-page presentation as to why they needed to tear down the 20-year-old jail,” said Metcalf, noting that “the only people that showed up to that meeting was the architecture firm that wants to get the design efforts for the new jail. No press was there — it was never reported.”

“You would think that would be news. We’re going to tear down the jail in the middle of downtown, right next to the new Harold Simmons Park, which is $350 million, right next to the new Hunt Development at Reunion Arena, which is $500 million, right next to the new Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center which is being put in the bond package right now. … The Dallas Morning News is part of this as part of the plan requires [the City] to purchase the Dallas Morning News building,” Metcalf said.

“It is almost as though there is a master plan going on between the City of Dallas and [Dallas County] to build this out downtown, and no one is talking about it,” he added.

“We don’t have anyone in the Dallas County Commissioners Court who is letting people know what is really going on,” he said. “All their votes are 5-0. If I were elected, the votes would be 4-1, but at least I would make sure everyone knows what is happening.”

As it stands now, the Dallas County Commissioners Court has become “a place where they can get their folks plum jobs and not really do a lot,” claimed Metcalf. Referring to the Gartner study on the county’s IT infrastructure, Metcalf asserted that “the commissioners don’t know what they are doing. We have horrible IT rollouts, horrible cybersecurity, our systems aren’t managed well… it is all part and parcel of poor management.”

Gartner’s analysis agreed, revealing that the purported poor governance of Dallas County IT has led to a “lack of full alignment on how to execute towards IT’s strategic goals, insufficient delineation and utilization of processes and guardrails, and unclear decision rights in multiple areas,” citing “leadership competency gaps.”

“Having no one on the court who can manage or even understand IT should concern everyone,” said Metcalf, noting the county’s cybersecurity incident last year.

Metcalf added that mismanagement of the court has contributed to “our debt growing by being more inefficient with the services, despite charging more, rather than providing services effectively and efficiently.”

“We have the wrong people at the Dallas County Commissioners Court,” added Metcalf. “The people there are there for social justice but are not capable of managing the nuts and bolts of accounting and administration.”

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article