Image: Happier, more cohesive times? Julie Turner (center left in red jacket) and James Noack (center right in plaid shirt) definitely enjoyed more political cohesion on November 7, 2018.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Montgomery County, December 30 – The most conspicuous absences from The Golden Hammer‘s Power Top Ten List of the ten most powerful people in Montgomery County are Texas Patriots PAC President Julie Turner (#2 in the 2019 Power Top Ten List) and Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack (#4 in the 2019 Power Top Ten List). Not only are they both absent from this year’s List but also we find them at odds with each other over the critical matter of whether The Woodlands should incorporate as a city.
The dispute over incorporation gives many important clues why Turner and Noack are no longer on the list. There are several reasons why they’re absent from the Power Top Ten this year.
It’s important to remember what this newspaper means by “power.” The Power Top Ten doesn’t commemorate the ten best people in Montgomery County necessarily, but the most powerful people who are actually able to accomplish political or policy goals. In other words, he or she can get things done in Montgomery County.
This year’s Power Top Ten List follows:
2020 Power Top Ten List
#1 Charlie Riley, Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner
#2 Kristin Christ, political consultant
#3 Bobby Jack Adams, Holly Arbuckle, and the “Deep State” of County government vendors
#4 Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon
#5 Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson
#6 Conroe Independent School District Superintendent Curtis Null
#7 Montgomery County Judge Chief of Staff Jason Millsaps
#8 Conroe Mayor Jody Czajkoski, Conroe First Lady Nicole Czajkoski, and Quadvest President Simon Sequeira
#9, Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch.
#10, Conservative Republican activist Ginger Russell.
Why is Julie Turner no longer on the Power Top Ten List?
Julie Turner, brilliant and cunning as she is, no longer appears on the Power Top Ten List, primarily because she seems to have lost interest in political activism. The Texas Patriots PAC over which Turner presides has always been something of a top-down organization in the sense that Turner and previously Turner and her co-founder Suzanne Guggenheim always have seemed to make the group’s decisions without membership deliberation or approval.
Turner, however, no longer runs “the PAC” like it’s an organization at all. The group no longer holds regular meetings or any meetings at all. They do not have and cannot afford an office. An office certainly is not a defining attribute of a “tea party” group, but, for a long time, Turner’s group needed an office for its numerous meetings and activities.
Turner and her volunteers, such as Jon Bauman and dozens of others, simply didn’t show up to the polls to promote the candidates of the Texas Patriots PAC either in the Republican Primary Election or in the General Election, with the exception that Turner appeared at the polls to support Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch and his endorsed slate of Township candidates running on a pro-incorporation platform in the November 3, 2020, General Election.
The fundamental position of the Texas Patriots PAC seems to have changed. No longer do they support “free markets”, “constitutionally limited government”, or “fiscal responsibility”, even though those buzzwords remain on the organization’s website. Instead, they support creation of more government, tax increases above the “effective tax rate” or “no new tax revenue rate,” and much of the “political establishment.”
The Tea Party movement arose to bring about change in the government. The movement accomplished little in Texas and Montgomery County. Government, especially at the County and local level, is exploding in size. The Woodlands Township, where the Patriots PAC has its stronghold, government is growing with a push to create more government in the form of a city government, which will undoubtedly result in enormous increases in property taxes in The Woodlands. Creating a new government entity doesn’t fit a “Tea Party” philosophy and certainly doesn’t fit within the motif of “free markets”, “constitutionally limited government”, and “fiscal responsibility.” Therefore, it’s no surprise that the group’s leader, Turner, doesn’t wield the influence she once enjoyed.
The Patriots PAC had trouble raising funds for the 2020 elections. Their volunteer organization has dissipated. The group suffered a beating, like a drum, at the polls by Charlie Riley’s and Kristin Christ’s Republican Voters of Texas PAC.
It’s a shame, because with the incoming Biden administration, conservatives will need all of the organization and help they can muster.
Why is James Noack no longer on the Power Top Ten List?
In intellect, hard work, and ability, no member of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court comes even close to Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack. Noack is an outstanding road and bridge commissioner in his precinct. He’s also always the most prepared, creative, and well-informed member of the five person (one county judge and four county commissioners) Court.
Noack has run into trouble in two major respects in Montgomery County politics.
First, Noack is the lone conservative on the Commissioners Court. Charlie Riley, the Precinct 2 Commissioner, leads a three person governing coalition along with Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts and Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador, whom first cousin Robert Walker will replace on January 1 when Meador retires.
During the budget process during the summer and early autumn, Noack was just as prepared as always to lead the Commissioners Court away from raising taxes on beleaguered Montgomery County taxpayers. As always, Noack dominated the budget hearings and demonstrated a remarkable degree of preparation.
Noack, however, had to fight against the County Judge, Mark Keough, as well as the governing coalition of three Big-Government proponents. Keough clearly focused on doing everything he could to please Riley during the budget process. It was on Keough’s turn that the Commissioners Court agreed to spend $4 million in the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget on a brand new forensics center, the need for which many individuals in the law enforcement community question. In Keough’s absence from the Commissioners Court, Riley, Metts, and Meador pushed through their proposal to spend $19 million on the Forensics Center on a three to one vote with Noack dissenting by himself.
Second, Noack could previously count on the political strength of his strong alliance with Turner and the Texas Patriots PAC. That alliance has largely dissipated. Turner didn’t even endorse Noack in the November 3 General Election.
Turner and Noack have become at odds over incorporation of The Woodlands, which Noack has strenuously argued will harm the residents of The Woodlands and result in an enormous tax increase.
It would not be at all surprising to see Noack ally himself with the Republican Voters of Texas PAC, the organization of the political establishment, if the Texas Patriots PAC continues to take its extreme position on creating another layer of government to which Woodlands taxpayers will need to genuflect. Incorporation is, indeed, the issue turning conservatives such as Turner and Noack into allies of other ideas and individuals, while anti-establishment forces grow among more left-leaning members of the community.
It’s sad to see two such talented individuals, Turner and Noack, look from the outside through the windows into the annals of power. That is where they are, however. For Turner, it seems largely to have been a choice. For Noack, he’s finding that a genuine conservative doesn’t have many friends right now in corrupt Montgomery County.