December 7, 2009
The big political news last week was that folks officially started filing to run for office next year. I proudly contributed to the excitement with the wonderful, goose bump-inducing news that I’ve filed for re-election to the Texas Senate.
The official period for folks to file to run for office next year started this past Thursday and runs through January 4th. Here’s a good blow-by-blow summary of the Filing Day news from last week.
Okay, I’m apologizing up-front. I know many of you rely on the Watson Wire (yea, verily, need it) to provide discussion points for your week as you catch up with old friends, try to show how smart you are, and generally impress those around you.
This edition is informative. It describes important issues and activities.
But it’s possible that some might find it, well, not fascinating. I’m unwilling to admit this Wire is boring, but I could see your argument if you wanted to make it.
So there’s a prize for those who finish this week’s Wire. Stick with it.
I had another pretty important announcement last week, in connection with some structural changes going on at the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, or CAMPO – the region’s primary transportation planning group, which I’ve chaired for nearly three years.
(See? What’s not fascinating about that? Keep going.)
I’m recommending that the Chair of the Transportation Policy Board be made a rotating position. Because I feel to so strongly about this principle, I’ve decided to step down as Chair when my term ends next month.
I’ve also said the board should expand to include representatives from Caldwell and Bastrop counties (in addition to Travis, Williamson and Hays counties, which already have representatives) so that it better resembles the region we think of as Central Texas.
And I’m recommending that the three remaining legislators on the Board be replaced with local officials, such as city council members or county commissioners. This change would ensure that the board has as many officials as possible who are immediately charged with building and maintaining the region’s transportation system.
And, of course, this last change would include me.
I know there will be different roles for me to play in the future in cutting traffic and improving mobility in Central Texas. For the foreseeable future, I will continue to serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. Transportation has been a real passion for me for a long time, and I’ve been honored to help the region start to realize the comprehensive transportation system it wants and needs.
So I’ll keep fighting for badly needed transportation funding, in the region and across the state. I’ll continue advocating for essential projects and demanding that critical questions about them be addressed in transparent ways. And I’ll keep doing whatever I can to make sure that transportation doesn’t become a political battleground, but rather that it remains a mechanism for helping Central Texans create the region they want to live in.
This is a good time for a change.
First of all, CAMPO’s made a lot of progress in the last three years. You can read the full list in my letter to board members, but here are some highlights:
These and other changes are making a difference in helping people get out of traffic and move more easily through the region.
And there’s a lot more good news to come on the transportation front.
In the next couple of weeks, I’m hopeful that the Texas Transportation Commission will set aside money to build a long-sought overpass at Ben White Boulevard over Riverside Drive – and do it without tolls. This is a vital project that anyone who’s sat in traffic on their way to the airport, Bastrop or Houston will appreciate. It’s taking a lot of work to make it happen without tolls on the drivers who use it.
Besides that, there are a host of new projects that we’ll be seeing next year:
Who knows – we might even have a commuter rail line opening up. (I hope I didn’t jinx it. But, then, how could you tell?)
I promised you prizes if you made it to this point. A few of you just scrolled down to here without reading, and you should really be ashamed. Scroll back up and start reading or you’ll feel bad about yourself all day.
And that’s your prize. I’ve saved you from that feeling of having lost out on a real opportunity because you cut corners.
Those who did, in fact, read to the bottom are basking in the joy of setting clear goals, including those that seemed so very hard, and then achieving them. How great that must feel. Congratulations.
I’m pleased to play a small role in you starting off your week knowing that you can achieve so much. No need to email back your thanks. I can feel it.