Category: "Collin County Commissioner's race"

My position on the Lake Lavon Bridge

October 8th, 2010

I have received several comments on my questions to Mrs. Williams about the proposed bridge over Lake Lavon.  Here’s my response:

I have yet to make a decision regarding the proposed bridge over Lake Lavon.  My preference is not to add another construction project to the rural setting we appreciate in Collin County.  The only concern I have regarding the bridge is the traffic congestion on 78 and 544 in Wylie and Murphy.  I approached the group opposing the bridge to educate myself on the issue.  The group ignored my requests for a meeting. I would be happy to meet with any citizens opposed to the bridge to hear their position and learn of any facts not on their PowerPoint slides or websites.

I brought up this issue and others on my website to challenge my opponent to take a stand.  She has no clear answer on her website about this issue or any other issue facing Precinct 2 in Collin County. She has chosen to challenge me on national views rather than local issues.  Visit her site to see for yourself.

I’m glad to know that opposition to the bridge is as strong as it is.  That helps me clarify my own position and more than justifies my provocative response to my opponent.  I have no vested interest on the Lavon Lake Bridge. My job as the minority candidate is to challenge my opponent to give a firm response on the actual issues.

I am also deeply concerned about the Intermodal Hub.  I don't think the road infrastructure of Precinct 2 can handle the traffic from this kind of facility.  As I said at my interview with the Association of Realtors of Collin County, I would like to preserve the suburban nature of our county.  A large commercial facility like the Intermodal Hub would change that.

I would be happy to meet with anybody to gain further insight on these and other concerns.

Cheryl Williams is reading my WEB site

September 27th, 2010

Cheryl Williams has been reading my web page.  Here are some phrases of mine that she quotes on her site:

 

"I believe the marketplace is unable to provide social insurance."

 

"...the auto bailout was done properly."

 

"We have asked the government to provide... social insurance, [and] we should be willing to pay for it."

 

"...corporations are amoral actors in our society..."

 

 

The quoted passages are from my response to a questionnaire the Tea Party sent me.  The questions were about political philosophy, so I answered in kind.  I'm not ashamed of my answers, but they are clearer in context.  For instance, when I identify corporations as amoral social actors, I simply mean they care about profit and loss, not what's good or bad for Collin County.   

 

Mrs. Williams doesn't seem to care much either.  Here are some issues that matter to the people of our country that she doesn't quote me on:

 

  • Lavon Lake Bridge:  It is my understanding that Ms. Williams opposes the bridge over Lavon Lake.  How does she plan to ease congestion on State Highway 78 as the eastern portion of the county and Precinct 2 continues to grow?  Where does she stand on the proposed Intermodal facility proposed for Precinct 2?  Can the  traffic these facilities generate be handled without the bridge and improvements to State Highway 78? 

 

  • Employee compensation:  In the last couple of weeks the current Commissioner's court voted 3-2 to lower the retirement matching provided to counties employees.  The act was precipitated by some voodoo numbers presented by Judge Self and constitutes a disgraceful breach of trust with the county employees.  Where does Ms. Williams stand on this issue?  Does she side with Judge Self and his angry Tea Partying supporters, or does she have something reasonable to contribute?  I saw her at the Employee meeting.  She declined to explore the issue with people she hopes to lead.  Take a look at the Collin County Observer and Commissioner's Joe Jaynes blog (http://www.joejaynes.com/blog/) for details.  The Tea Partiers are angry because government has broken faith with them, but here they are intimidating Republicans into doing it.  I don't believe in breaking promises to get headlines.  Does Mrs. Williams?

 

  • Highway Tolling and transportation:  Where does Ms. Williams stand on improving transportation with Toll roads?  Should the roads be private or public?  Should we encourage public transportation around the county?  Have her supporters boxed her in a way that she is unable to do what is right for our county's transportation?  Are we to get lower taxes for tolled roads?

 

  • County Healthcare:  How does Ms. Williams plan to address the county's statutory responsibility for indigent healthcare now that rising healthcare costs are depleting the county's healthcare foundation?

 

Along with quoting from my responses to the Tea Party questionnaire, Mrs. Williams makes this senseless accusation:

The opponent wants to bring Washington style regulations to Collin County. 

I've been active politically for a number of years.  I ran for the state legislator four years ago, and I'm running for county commissioner now.  In all the speeches I've made and political statements I've written, I never once proposed a regulation.  If a case comes up where I think a regulation is needed, I may propose one, but if and when I do, it won't be Washington style, whatever that means.  I took the kids a few summers ago, to see the monuments and the museums, but that's all I know about the place.

I am a proud Democrat.  I supported President Obama in the 2008 primary and general election, and I stand with him now.  But I also believe in a healthy Republican Party that can provide the balance our communities need. 

It saddens me to behold a Republican candidate pandering to the Tea Partiers for support, trying to scare those poor people, who Heaven knows are suffering enough.

Ms. Williams where do you stand?  Are you with the GOP or with the Tea Party?  You can't have two masters.

Remarks at Texas Democratic Women of Collin County Paint the State Blue Dinner September 4 2010

September 10th, 2010

Doing What is Right

Rick Koster

My name is Rick Koster and I am running for County Commissioner Precinct 2 Collin County

Bill White entered my consciousness 5 years ago almost to the day.  I remember when he (As Mayor of Houston) said that the City of Houston would do what it takes to help those fleeing Hurricane Katrina. He chose to do what was hard because it was right.

Often we are faced with the choice of doing what is right but hard or expedient and easy. We face this choice in our personal lives and in the halls of power in Washington, Austin, and McKinney.

It is hard to fight entrenched healthcare interests to free us from the risk of financial ruin due to disease or injury.

It is hard to protect our environment against the pressures of corporate and individual greed.

It is hard to confront our prejudices and extend equality under the law to all living within our shores.

Americans in general and the Democratic party in particular have a long tradition of doing what it is right regardless of how hard it is.

Today Collin County faces similar choices. We will do what is right.

  • When in government we will not play political games at the expense of our public servants.
  • We will not encourage development for the benefit of the few at the expense of all
  • We will not blindly follow ideology and theology at the expense of a single resident.
  • We will not let our prejudices dictate our duty.
  • We will not break the bond of trust among citizens.

Join your Democratic ticket in the task of moving our county, state and country forward.

I want to leave you with some quotes:

"The future lasts a long time. All things are possible, even the fact that an action in accord with honor and honesty ultimately appears to be a prudent political investment. " The Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle"by Charles de Gaulle

"If not me who. If not now when" From The Talmut. the  complete quote is: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, who am I for? And if not now, when?" by Hillel

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. "  John F. Kennedy Moon Speech - Rice Stadium September 12, 1962

 

League of Women Voters of Plano/Collin County Primary Voter's guide

August 1st, 2010

The following are my answers to the League of Women's Voters Questionnaire for the Primary.  The full guide can be found at http://www.lwvcollin.org/VGCommissionersMarch2010.pdf

1. Please describe the education and experience that qualify you for the position of Collin County Judge or Commissioner.

Education: BSEE Yale University 1982

Experience: 25 years of engineering and sales experience in private industry; 2 years of government experience as a civilian employee of the US Southern Command; a lifetime of experience as a native speaker of both English and Spanish, and of being natively at home in both US and Latin culture.

 

2. What are the biggest environmental concerns in our county and what steps would you take to solve them?

My biggest environmental concerns are regional air quality, energy. Improving public transportation in the region and focusing on energy conservation will go a long way toward improving air quality. Improving capacity on our main roads will help lower emissions and save energy.

 

3. What measures would you support to improve transportation? How should they be funded?

I support an extension of public transit to cities and towns beyond Plano and Richardson. This should be paid with user fees and county subsidies. Road expansion should not be our only option. An example of projects I would support would be express busses that feed the DART system and link it to our courts and county facilities. I also believe that some of our roads do need expansion to meet regional traffic and housing patterns.

 

4. Collin County is overall affluent but many of its residents live in poverty. How do you think the county should address the physical and mental health needs of these residents?

The county must maintain an infrastructure that addresses the physical and mental health needs of less affluent citizens. Since there are no county owned facilities in Collin County, it is proper that the county contract with private and regional public facilities for these needs.

 

5. Collin County has strict financial guidelines for providing court-appointed attorneys. What measures do you support to ensure the right to counsel for all defendants?

I support the current Collin County rules to implement the Texas Fair Defense Act. I would support a provision that enables non-indigent defendants to access the County list of defenders and to retain lawyers at the County rate.

 

6. What other issues do you believe will be most pressing in Collin County, and what is your position on these issues?

County government should partner with local school districts to provide a county program of vocational education. Such a program, which might be modeled on

Collin College, would give our young people career options that would benefit the county and help lower the dropout rate in our schools.

County government needs to make sure that water, sewer, power and other utilities keep up with regional growth.

 

Texas Democratic Women of Collin County Candidate Survey

July 6th, 2010

 

1. What experience do you feel best qualifies you to be Collin County Commissioner?

The following experience qualifies me for County Commissioner

a.       The Commissioner's court is in charge of overseeing all engineering of county projects.  I have been a working engineer since 1982.  I have engineering experience in the private sector and in government.  Except for 2 years working for the US Army, most of my experience has been in the private sector.

b.      As an engineer I have been involved in design projects, consulting projects, and planning.

c.       Our county is diverse.  My professional experience has given me the opportunity to work with engineers and managers all over the world.  I will bring this contact with diversity to the Commissioner's court.

 

 

2. What are the top challenges for the Commissioner's Court pertaining to indigent health care?

I see two mayor challenges to indigent care in Collin County: budget pressures and red tape

1.      Budget pressures:

a.       Due to the current economic climate the fund set by the county with the proceeds from the sale of the county's hospital is being depleted.  The commissioner's court needs to find the proper mechanism to make sure the health care fund keeps up with the expected demand or it needs to add a budget item to the general county fund.  A budget item in the general county fund will require healthcare to be paid out of tax revenue.

b.      The county needs to take advantage of the provisions of the new Federal health care law to help balance the budget.  I expect the provisions in the new health care law to reduce the demand for indigent care in the county since the law will expand eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid.  The new law will also keep young people on their parent's insurance longer, reducing their need of indigent care.

2.      Red Tape:

a.       In order to apply for indigent care assistance in Collin County a citizen has to complete at least 12 forms and submit supporting documentation.  The completed application requires weeks of processing before a citizen finds out his eligibility for assistance.  This system is unfair to our citizens.

b.      As a commissioner I will work to streamline and automate the application process for assistance.  This will help both the citizen requiring services and the provider of services.

c.       I will also work to make the application for Medicare and Medicate fast and efficient in our county.

3. Do you believe Collin County's infrastructure is sufficient for our projected growth? How do you feel about DART Rail expansion?

The continuing growth of Collin County will require additional infrastructure.  We will need more water, electricity, sewage, natural gas, roads and transportation services.

Today I am confident that for the near future our electricity and natural gas supplies will remain stable.  I believe that to maintain our energy supplies stable, the county should encourage, through it projects and codes, the highest standard of energy efficiency on all public and private projects.

I am a bit concerned when it comes to water and sewage.  Our growth will require new reservoirs and new sewage infrastructure.  The new reservoirs will take over large parcels of land that are both productive and an environmental asset.  New sewage encroaches and disrupts the lives of current residents.  The current structure of the North Texas Municipal Water District makes it unaccountable to the citizens, so that the institution's power of imminent domain is not checked directly by the citizens.

The continued growth of Collin County will require the expansion of our transportation infrastructure.  We will need to expand existing roads, pave dirt roads and build new roads.  Being committed to road construction does not mean that I believe that we can have quality growth by just paving.  Collin County needs to have a reliable mix of transportation options to ease congestion and to improve air quality.  I support mass transit.  I support the expansion of DART.  I think County government can be a catalyst to solve the political and budget roadblocks for DART expansion in the county.

 

 

Response to Allen Tea Party request for statement of Principles

May 20th, 2010

To the Allen Area Tea Party Members

Back in February you asked me where I stood on the issues you care about. Below I go into more details.

The following are the five principles of your Tea Party chapter as described at Allen Tea Party WEB site.

Limited Government:
As our founding fathers recognized restraint of government is necessary to protect the liberty of the people.

Fiscal responsibility:
Government at all levels must learn to live within its means. To saddle future generations with the crushing burden of excess spending is unconscionable

Personal Responsibility:
Liberty is unsustainable without responsibility. Each citizen must take responsibility for the consequences of his or her actions while respecting the rights and dignity of others.

The Rule of Law:
Consistent, independent and uniform application of the law is critical to a free and prosperous society.

National Sovereignty:
We must maintain a strong national defense, effective security for our borders, and sole control over our land and our laws.

I support these principles. I believe that you will find very few Americans, if any, who will disagree with these principles at face value. The question is how a citizen interprets these principles and how they fit with additional principles that the citizen may hold. My interpretation of these principles may or may not agree with yours. These principles can't be taken in isolation, and at time may be in conflict.

We should agree, however, that WE are the government. Our government is a reflection of the desires and expectations, successes, and failures of our citizens for over 230 years of our constitutional republic.

Since WE are the government, the most important principle is that of Personal Responsibility. Through our elected officials WE are responsible for how limited or interventionist the government is. WE are responsible for government programs, and WE are responsible for paying for them. WE are responsible for how the laws are interpreted. WE are responsible for our national character.

Each one of us has a definition of what limited government means. I share with my Libertarian friends the belief that the government should stay out of my personal business. What that means is that what I do in my home, with my body, or my mind is off limits to the government and anybody else.

I don't extend this principle to corporations. Corporations have one purpose: making money. Making money is a good thing, but since corporations are amoral actors in our society we need to limit their power as much or more than we limit the power of government. In our modern society, government has expanded to check the power of corporations. We do this with regulations that limit the right of corporations to pollute our communities, deceive individual consumers, manipulate the market, and commit other offenses against the public good..

Unlike my friends the Libertarians, I believe that the marketplace is unable to provide social insurance. I support Medicare and Medicaid. As a society we have chosen to provide a safety net to cushion against the ups and downs of our economy in the form of unemployment insurance and food assistance. Other insurance programs I support are crop insurance and flood insurance.

Let's talk healthcare insurance. Today, individual healthcare insurance is a game of Russian roulette where the looser dies or goes to the poor house. Unless you are fortunate enough to be covered by government healthcare insurance such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration, you better pray that you don't get seriously sick. In our current insurance market there is no way to hedge against a severe or long term illness. In the current insurance market there is no way I can take personal responsibility for healthcare risks. The current state of healthcare insurance is bankrupting our citizens and corporations, and making us uncompetitive in the world market. I support President Barrack Obama's effort to fix this problem. I am not happy with every detail of the current bills in the US Senate and US House, but I feel they are a good starting point. I encourage you to read both bills and decide for yourself what is the good bad and ugly of the legislation. This is a good opportunity to fix a problem that has dogged our nation for almost a century.

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Martin Luther King Unity Walk

May 8th, 2010
Martin Luther King Unity Walk

Maury Marcus, Rick Koster, Debora Angel-Smith and David Smith at the Martin Luther King unity walk January 16 2010

Comments at the League of Women Voters

March 16th, 2010

League of Women Voters
Introduction
February 13, 2010


I want to thank the League of Women Voters for the opportunity to participate in this candidate forum.

My name is Rick Koster and I am running for County Commissioner in precinct 2 on the Democratic ticket.

If elected, I will bring to the Commissioner's Court over 25 years of experience in the practical profession of engineering. 

Except for 2 years working for the US Army, I have spent my professional career in the private sector, working for and with companies of all sizes.  I get things done.

I’m convinced that the citizens of Collin County will be better served by a Commissioner's Court that includes diverse perspectives.  I have a lifetime of experience as a native speaker of both English and Spanish, as a person at home in both U.S. and Latin cultures, as someone with an Ivy League education who understands and gets along with ordinary Texans.

As to the issues, many in Collin County think this election is about cutting taxes. 

As a parent of college age children, I applaud and will seek responsible efforts to lower taxes. 

That said, I don’t like and won’t play the con game of tax cuts that hide cost transfers to tolls and fees.  Nor will I take part in a tax race to the bottom.  County government is necessary, and it won’t run for free. 

Most Texans learned when they were little, just like I did, that you can’t get something for nothing.  What the citizens of Collin County want is value for their tax dollars, government that takes care of true county needs, as prescribed by law, in a prompt and responsible manner.  As commissioner, I will make your tax dollar stretch, and do my best to return some of it to you.

Another reason why I’m running is to promote the discussion of community goals.  Here are some questions that I think need airing:

Should Collin County invest in transportation infrastructure beyond roads?

Should our roads be free or tolled, public or private? 

What is the proper role of county government in meeting the health care needs of our citizens?

What should Collin County be doing do to help clean up regional air pollution?

Should the county help foster a county vocational school system to improve the opportunities of our children?

My name is Rick Koster and I want your vote.  You can vote for me twice, in the primary and in November.