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Meanwhile, in Montgomery County

There they go again.

The Republican primary defeat of embattled Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal — and close contests in two county commissioner races headed for runoffs — could signal major leadership changes and a shift further to the right in the fast-growing Houston suburb.

State Rep. Mark Keough, who defeated Doyal, was among several candidates favored by the county’s influential tea party movement — and like-minded statewide groups — who fared well Tuesday. Others in this cohort include Steve Toth, who overwhelmingly won the Republican nomination for the legislative seat that Keough is vacating, and Greg Parker, who got 43 percent of the vote in a three-person race and forced County Commissioner Charlie Riley, with 43.5 percent, into a primary runoff.

Toth and Parker have staked out positions aligned with the most far-right elements of their party. Parker’s campaign website says he wrote a book described as “a critical look at the myth and liberal hysteria surrounding climate change.” Toth, who was instrumental in the formation of the county’s tea party movement, has advocated eliminating property appraisal districts and freezing appraisals at the purchase price of a home.

[…]

Political observers agreed that toll roads emerged as a dominant issue in the county, where tea party groups carry a lot of clout, particularly in The Woodlands. Texas lawmakers have gone from championing to criticizing toll roads, a shift that some Houston-area leaders worry has gone too far and could limit coming projects.

“Without toll roads and that funding, I don’t know what we are going to do,” Doyal said late last year, citing the need for new roadways in rapidly growing parts of the Houston area.

Keough took a hard stance against toll roads.

“I think toll roads are another form of taxation,” Keough said last December. “I’m out on toll roads. Toll roads are about a bigger issue; it’s about big government.”

Doyal was embattled for a reason, and I’m sure that had something to do with it. I figure as long as the developers are able to keep building things life will go on more or less as normal up there. I mean, at some point they’re going to need to come up with a politically acceptable way to pay for the roads they want to build, but that’s their problem.

I confess, I don’t quite get the diatribe against toll roads. The whole idea with toll roads is that you only pay for them if you use them. Everyone pays gas taxes, whether they use the roads that get built with them or not. Which is fine by me, of course, but I’m one of those big-gubmint-loving-liberal types. If gas taxes, floating bonds, and toll roads are all off the table, what’s left? Perhaps Montgomery County will show us.

(Just a reminder, there is a choice if you think all of this is messed up.)

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4 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Kuff,

    The animosity towards toll roads exists because people old enough to remember how they got started here know the people were lied to. Houstonians voted for the Sam Houston tollway because they were told bonds would be issued, paid for with tolls, then the toll booths would be removed.

    Instead, what we got was a toll road fiefdom, and those toll booths are NEVER leaving. I imagine that voters wouldn’t have approved toll roads in the first place if they knew that up front.

    I do agree that toll roads are a user tax. I’m guessing younger people are more open to toll roads, because they don’t know the whole sordid history.

  2. Ross says:

    @Bill, I’ve heard lots of folks spout the “it will be free when it’s paid for” line, but haven’t seen any evidence that it’s true. There’s nothing wrong with toll roads in my view. They get paid for by the people that use them, and some of the money goes towards new roads, all without raising taxes.

  3. Manny Barrera says:

    I don’t like toll roads, I prefer everyone pay for the roads that I use. But to be fair, I prefer to let the Republicans continue with tolls till they tax the business people that have to use them to death.

    When the City wanted to tax non-Houstonians for using our streets, the Rs were up in arms how it is not fair. They just wanted to do the same way with their toll roads it was a ruse that the stupid Rs fall for.

  4. Jules says:

    Bill, I’m all for them removing the toll booths on the SHTW – they need to switch to those things overhead and everyone has to have a toll tag. The toll booths cause much of the congestion.

    People object to toll roads for many reasons, not sure what the reasons are for the guy in the article.

    Eminent Domain – people object to their land being taken.

    Limited Access – highways generally have a lot of access to the land alongside or access can be added. If your land is bisected by a highway, your remaining land might become more valuable – it could be developed and people could easily hop off the highway. With a toll road (and to a much greater extent, the proposed high-speed rail), there is less access – the transportation is for people at either end, not those in the middle.

    SH130 – you can look this one up, but it’s a P3 toll road that went bankrupt and defaulted on TIFIA loans (the same sort of loans the proposed HSR might take). You see “bankrupt” and think “failure” but what if it all worked out like the planners intended? What if everyone who was supposed to make money did?

    The poor – while toll roads here don’t seem so pricey, poor people can definitely be priced out.

    That being said, I used to take the Westpark tollway to work and I thought to myself – why am I paying tolls for this – it only takes 4 minutes – and then I thought – oh yeah, that’s why. I took the SHTW home and it was a drag – because of the toll booths.