Image: Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack has been amassing bureaucratic influence within the Montgomery County government, especially after his grand bargain with the “establishment” during the 2017 budget hearings.
Conroe and The Woodlands, December 13 – Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack is the sixth (6th) Most Powerful Person of the Top Ten Most Powerful People in Montgomery County.
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, continues the tradition of listing the Power Top Ten, the ten most powerful people in Montgomery County. 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 is the second that The Golden Hammer is publishing this list. In 2016, the Publisher of this newspaper published the list on social media before this newspaper began.
So far, The Golden Hammer has named four members of the Power Top Ten:
#7: Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson
#8: Simon Sequeira, Quadvest President and property rights advocate
#9: John Holzwarth and the Montgomery County government vendors’ “Deep State” (with assists from Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador and lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal)
#10: United States Congressman Kevin Brady.
Power Top Ten #6: Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack
Most of the time, James Noack, the Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner, Noack thrives as a County Commissioner for two reasons: his intelligence and his care in performing his job.
Noack is intelligent and hardworking. There is no other member of the Commissioners Court who comes close to rivaling him as a road and bridge Commissioner. Noack usually arrives at his office near Spring Creek south of The Woodlands around 7 a.m. and works until almost 6 p.m. every day. He’s got some amazing employees on his staff, including Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace-Elect Matt Beasley, who will leave as Chief of Staff at the end of 2018, and Chuck Cobb, the brilliant information technology manager who has run the County’s North Star traffic system, the signals operation at Precinct 3 which is now becoming the Countywide Signals Department, and many of the other IT needs of the entire County government.
The road and bridge service which Noack and his Precinct 3 team provide arguably rates as one of the best such operations in the entire State of Texas. Noack meets citizen concerns with respect to road conditions in a matter of hours, not days. Noack is the only County Commissioner who prepared a Mobility Plan for his Precinct. The County as a whole and the other three Commissioner Precincts all lack such mid- and long-term planning.
Due to the nature of the County roads in The Woodlands development, Noack has developed a world-class signals operation with signals which his team actually build inside the Precinct 3 office. Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley began using Noack’s signals group about three years ago. Now, Noack will export his signals service Countywide.
Noack is also a master fundraiser as a Commissioner. His campaign account at the last reporting period exceeded $356,000. During 2018, Noack raised substantially more in campaign funds than any other member of the Commissioners Court, even though he wasn’t even running for re-election. More than 85% of Noack’s campaign funds come from County vendors, in the form of engineering firms and contractors. It’s a bit of a different crowd from County vendors who contribute to other members of the Commissioners Court, because Noack demands a high level of performance from the people whom he hires.
For a long time, Noack, who is in his sixth year as a County Commissioner, was a dissenter. Noack successfully led many of the reforms of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. Noack fought County Judge Craig Doyal for a long time on Doyal’s centralization of County Department management under the County Judge’s Office and finally won that battle only after Doyal and Riley led that effort themselves for other political reasons. Noack rightfully embarrassed Doyal and County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport for their secretive attempt to give Doyal’s daughter a promotion in the guise of a “reorganization” of Davenport’s 6-person County Department.
Noack has consistently opposed the Decimation of Hope Highway, the more than $75 million, 3.1-mile, Tx-249 Tollway, which is little more than Doyal and Riley granting favoritism to the County vendors who have paid for their criminal legal defense. He also intervened when Doyal and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador in 2017 and Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley in 2018 tried to terminate County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw, who is a member of Doyal’s infamous “Hit List” and who stood up with Noack against Davenport’s attempted nepotistic promotion of Doyal’s daughter.
Has James Noack, the Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner, sold out to bureaucratic power? Sometimes, it seems that way. Despite Noack’s general popularity among many conservatives, his voting record on the Commissioners Court has been fiscally liberal. Noack has accomplished minimal positive goals on the County Budget, but, like his left-leaning colleagues, Noack has shown no will to examine County Departments for genuine zero-based budgeting cuts.
Noack has exhibited one area where his voting has been downright terrible: he’s constantly fighting to raise the salaries of the members of the Commissioners Court, i.e., himself, and is willing to cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in across-the-board County employee salary increases to accomplish giving himself a pay raise.
Noack clearly has lofty ambitions. He’s seriously considering running for Kevin Brady’s seat in Congress when Brady leaves that position. Noack has worked very hard – with the help of Doyal – to gain control over several County Departments, such as Building Maintenance and Human Resources, by developing political allies to run those departments.
At this point, Noack rarely finds himself leading a majority of the Commissioners Court in contested votes. That’s not necessarily bad, because Noack valiantly led the opposition to the tollroad and the $15 million Enterprise Resource Planning software purchase. Noack has also been the only member of the Commissioners Court willing to stand up to the County’s judges.
Where Noack has truly faltered has been in placing the needs of County government – and his personal salary – above accomplishing the genuine government reforms of which he is capable. With his intelligence, great work ethic, and stature among many of the County employees, particularly certain critical Department heads, Noack could boost his career into the stratosphere by accomplishing critical goals of his conservative political base many of whom are quietly – and some not so quietly – frustrated with him.