Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2194 into law Monday, giving Wise County voting representation on the Weatherford College board.
“I think it’s such a big win for the people of Wise County, whether they’re taxpayers or students or employees at that campus,” County Judge J.D. Clark said. “It’s only going to strengthen our role in the college system.”
Originally submitted by Rep. Phil King and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Craig Estes, the law states that the commissioners court may appoint a member to the college’s board of trustees to serve a two-year term. The Wise County member will be allowed to vote on all decisions except the imposition of a tax or issues related solely to another campus in the junior college district. The Wise County member will not be able to serve as an officer or count toward quorum.
The law goes into affect Sept. 1. The commissioners court must choose their appointee by Nov. 20, and the appointee’s two-year term begins Dec. 1.
The county has formed a committee composed of Clark, Auditor Ann McCuiston, Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns and commissioners’ attorney Thomas Aaberg to select and propose an appointee to the commissioners court.
Clark said he’d like for the committee to meet next week and set a timeline for the selection process, that way the appointee can be approved and start attending board meetings as soon as possible to get an idea of how their new position will work.
“We’d like someone who values the idea of education in our community,” Clark said. “Someone who is going to be an advocate for our taxpayers, because you can’t just go in and be a college cheerleader because you represent the taxpayers who fund that campus.
“We want someone who’s not afraid to speak up at those meetings; somebody who understands this is a big deal to be the first representative on the board from Wise County and is going to those board meetings with the county’s best interest at heart.”
The topic of voting representation has long been a source of contention between Weatherford College and the county, with former board chairman Frank Martin openly opposing giving Wise County a voting spot on the board.
Martin lost his bid for re-election May 6, and college president Kevin Eaton stepped down soon after. Weatherford College Wise County Dean Dr. Matt Joiner announced last week he’s leaving for a job at the Region 11 Education Service Center in Fort Worth, and Clark said he’ll be “missed dearly.” The other changes in leadership and the addition of a Wise County board member give the college and the county a fresh start in their relationship, Clark said.
“We’ve never hoped for contention, but there’s been contention – as sometimes happens in relationships. There’s no point in rehashing what’s happened in the past,” Clark said. “We can use this as an opportunity to talk about the potential for the Wise County campus, and a huge piece of that will be that there’s someone on the board who represents the county.”