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Shake hands and come out swinging

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Photo by Judith Pannebaker
Shake hands and come out swinging – run-off opponents for Precinct 1 Commissioner, incumbent Bob Grimes and challenger Bruce Eliker

Two local pols involved in an upcoming run-off election spoke to present and past constituents during a recent meeting of the Bandera County Republican Women.
On Tuesday, May 24, incumbent Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Grimes will face challenger and former Precinct 1 Commission Bruce Eliker. Neither candidate received 51 percent of the vote during the March 1 primary election. And to no one’s surprise, each took a vastly different approach to “politicking” for the upcoming election.
During the Thursday, May 5, meeting, Eliker unabashedly told those assembled he was running on his past accomplishments during his tenure on commissioners court from 2005 to 2012. During that time, commissioners approved the construction of the jail and justice center on Highway 173 North. “We build a much-needed facility and kept country taxes down, too,” he said.
The new facility replaced an antiquated jail located behind the courthouse facing 12th Street. It also provided a new home for the then 216th – now 198th – District Court, which, prior to the move, convened on the second floor of the courthouse.
As his “strongest point,” Eliker evoked his long-time employment with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and his experience with roads. He noted, “A lot of residents have talked to me about road problems, but currently, it takes more than $60,000 a mile for road construction.” Eliker added, “Roads are one of my strongest points.”
Road rehabilitation and construction came to a standstill in Bandera County during the recent long-term drought. As has been reported repeatedly in the Courier, Road & Bridge Superintendent John Andrade could not obtain a permit from the Texas Commission on Environment Quality to draw water from the Medina River and local streams, which was necessary to continue work on county roads.
Eliker also spoke about his law enforcement experience as a reserve deputy with the Bandera County Sheriff’s Department, saying, “I bring a lot to the table.”
In contrast, Grimes spoke about how commissioners have evolved from their original charge of being “road commissioners.” He continued, “We have different jobs now. In 1998, we hired a road and bridge superintendent who has oversight on all the roads in the county.” Grimes added, “I wish he got all the complaints.”
Rather than focusing on “road crews,” Grimes considered long-term planning for the county to be of increased importance. He plans to schedule a workshop prior to budget planning this summer to discuss the county’s future economic growth.
“We need new businesses to invest in Bandera County that are environmentally friendly and consistent with our values and natural resources,” Grimes said. Bandera-friendly industries would help alleviate tax burdens from residents.
Grimes’ other platforms include recycling, identifying long-term funding sources for EMS and the library system and standing up against unfunded mandates handed down by “legislators in Austin.”
In closing, both Eliker and Grimes asked everyone affected by the run-off election to get out and vote. This became – as evidenced by their politically motivated audience – a “preaching-to-the-choir” moment.