Fowler addresses issues involving judgeship
by MAC OVERTON
Dec 15, 2013 | 885 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Judge Dean Fowler told the Gilmer Kiwanis Club Thursday about his job and responsibilties as Upshur County judge.

He added some information which was not in a talk on the same subject he gave to Gilmer Rotarians a few months ago.

He recently announced that he is seeking renomination as a Republican to a fourth term as judge of the Commissioners Court.

Fowler said that “in my 11 years as judge, I’ve worked with two District Attorneys, one Treasurer, two Tax Assessor-Collectors, four Auditors, eight constables, nine justices of the peace, 12 assistant district attorneys, and 11 different commissioners.”

Of the commissioners, some of which he had an adversarial relationship with, he said, “it’s good some are gone. Some I kind of miss.”

But he praised the current court.

“Each brings different talents abilities,” he said. He praised them for taking on various projects on their own. He said that took some of the burden off him.

A major part of being judge is developing the county budget. Work on that begins in the Spring.

In July, the head of the County Appraiser District delivers certified property values, and from them, the Tax Collector delivers an effective tax rate, the rate that would generate the same tax revenue as the previous year.

“When the property values are up, the effective rate goes down,” etc., he said. He pointed out that oil and gas revenues had declined a lot in past several years, and make the tax burden on property higher.

He said that during his 11 years, the county budget had only increased 9 percent, while the rate of inflation had been 21 percent.

He also told about sitting as County Court at Law judge, which covers misdemeanor criminal cases and probate issues, as well as appointing guardianships.

Fowler told one amusing story about a case he heard.

A blind man in the Sand Hill area had been arguing with his wife. Alcohol was involved, and the man grabbed the keys, got in his truck, and started to leave.

He pulled out onto FM 555 when deputies who had been called to the scene arrived.

“It’s the only case I know a blind man was charged with DWI,” Fowler said.

The judge said he and other East Texas judges work together to try to achieve regional priorities.

This gives the area more clout in Austin.

An example is the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NETRMA), which works on transportation issues. One example of things they’ve worked toward is Loop 49 at Tyler, which will eventually cut through Upshur County between East Mountain and Gladewater and sometime in the far future reach the proposed Interstate 69 east of Upshur County.

The judge addressed election cycles.

He said next year’s elections at the local level is the “legal election,” in which District Judge, County Judge, and Justices of the Peace offices are up. The election of 2016 will be the “law enforcement” election, in which the Sheriff, Constables, and Tax Assessor-Collector will be up. (He said that originally, the Tax Assessor-Collector’s post was “sort of” a law enforcement position.

Fowler made reference to his opponent in the March 4 Republican Party Primary, Ronnica Ridgeway, saying she was young and inexperienced. He said that she only had had her law license for a year, and had only moved to the county last February.

(Information about Ms. Ridgeway and remarks she made at a fundraiser last Saturday were in Wednesday’s edition of The Mirror.)
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