Image: Left to right: Precinct 2 County Commissioner candidate Gregory Parker, County Commissioner candidate Brian Dawson, and County Commissioner Charlie Riley.
Magnolia, February 23 – When it comes to answering questions from his constituents, Charlie Riley is too busy, even when he’s in as friendly a forum as the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce meeting inside the Magnolia ISD Administration Building (infamous for storing Riley’s political band instruments free-of-charge to Riley and his political campaign). Riley is infamous for failing to return telephone calls to anyone other than the select few Montgomery County government vendors who are major contributors to Riley’s political campaign and criminal legal defense fund.
On Thursday, February 22, 2018, however, Riley did something quite unusual even for the elusive Precinct 2 County Commissioner during the candidate forum for the Precinct 2 race in the March 6 Republican Primary Election: he abruptly ended the discussion when he didn’t like the question from the moderator in the carefully-controlled event.
For quite a while, Riley, former Comal County Commissioner Gregory Parker, and longtime Conroe businessman and Republican activist Brian Dawson discussed topics such as parks, community involvement, and how new Riley’s County Commissioner office is. The candidate forum was boring. But then something happened.
Riley started to turn a bit red-faced when two-time conservative author Parker made the comment “government is best which governs least.” Towards the end of the debate, Riley laughed a bit when the moderator asked how much it costs to change the name plates on signs throughout Precinct 2 when a new officeholder comes into office.
The moderator from the pro-establishment Voter Awareness Council obviously overstepped Riley’s bounds when she asked, “Will you try to extend Woodlands Parkway?”
With that question, Riley interrupted the other speakers and loudly announced, “I got places I got to be. I gotta get outta here.”
Riley loudly interrupted the other speakers when asked about the Woodlands Parkway Extension, “I got places I got to be. I gotta get outta here.”
At that point, the embarrassed moderator withdrew the question and told the candidates each to give a 1 minute closing statement.
Despite Riley’s claim that he couldn’t answer that question about his plans for the Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX), which voters in both Commissioners Precinct 2 and Precinct 3 rejected in the May 2015 bond referendum, Riley stuck around the room where the Chamber held the forum for at least another ten minutes as he shook hands and talked with supporters.
Riley debated his two challengers, Dawson and Parker, at the Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC candidate debate on January 23 at the Woodlands Mall. Riley had a very rough evening that night.
Riley tried to confuse the issue about whether he supported the WPX, but his answer eventually was loud and clear. First, Riley accused challenger Dawson of supporting WPX previously. Riley told the crowd, “Whatever you want to call it, Mansions Way will be built over to Dobbin Huffsmith Road. I’m not going to tie it into Woodlands Parkway. 249 doesn’t have to have Woodlands Parkway to be viable.”
Less than three minutes later, however, the moderator in that forum asked “Do you believe the Woodlands Parkway Extension should be removed from the major thoroughfare plan?” This question was important, because even after Montgomery County voters – led by voters in Magnolia and The Woodlands – rejected the May 2015 road bond referendum with WPX on it, in 2016 Riley and Doyal snuck WPX onto the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s “major thoroughfare plan” under a different name, “Wood Trace Boulevard.” Wood Trace Boulevard, however, clearly is WPX.
Riley’s answer to the question about WPX was quite illuminating at that point:
“No, I don’t believe it [WPX or Woodtrace Boulevard] should be removed from the Thoroughfare Plan, because the developers on the west side need it. It needs to stay on there!”
In other words, Riley still supports WPX because some real estate developers “need it” even though the voters in his own Commissioners Precinct 2 (Magnolia area) and Commissioners Precinct 3 (The Woodlands) staunchly rejected WPX in 2015.
Riley doesn’t listen to voters in Commissioners Precinct 2. That’s because most of the engineers and contractors who give criminal defense fund contributions to him live in Houston.