Magnolia, April 4 – The Republican voters of the six Montgomery County voting precincts along the proposed route of the TX 249 Tollway clearly don’t want that toll project unless voters get the chance to vote up or down on it first. Two of the highest percentage voting precincts in the entire State of Texas in favor of Ballot Proposition 2 are among those six precincts.
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley lobbied for the TX 249 extension from the Harris County line at Spring Creek to Todd Mission in Grimes County to be a tollroad, instead of a free road. On June 27, 2017, Riley joined Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal in lobbying the Texas Transportation Commission to make the project a tollroad rather than a free road paid from state highway funds which the citizens of the Magnolia area have already paid and which the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) already has set aside for the project. Instead, Riley and Doyal lied to TxDOT and told them that Montgomery County was “unified in support” of TX 249 being a tollroad and stuck the citizens of the Magnolia area with tolls in addition to the state gasoline taxes they already pay to support road projects like that one.
Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff confirmed in Conroe at the December 19, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting that TX 249 would be a free road, instead of a tollroad, if Riley and Doyal didn’t continue to insist on building the project as a tollroad, so they could funnel road funds into the hands of the individuals and companies who have financially backed their criminal legal defense fund for their pending criminal indictments for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
Ballot Proposition 2 stood for the proposition: ““No governmental entity should ever construct or fund construction of toll roads without voter approval.” Republican voters approved that proposition with 89.91% of the vote statewide. Montgomery County voters approved Proposition 2 with 91.27% of the vote.
All six of the voting precincts along the proposed route for the TX 249 Tollway also agreed with Proposition 2 and two of those six precincts – voting precinct 9 (near the end of the TX 249 Tollway route) and voting precinct 28 (near Spring Creek and the beginning of the TX 249 Tollway route) had some of the highest approval percentages in the entire State of Texas. The percentages in favor of Proposition 2 for the six voting precincts follow:
- Precinct 9, 94.04% in favor;
- Precinct 13, 88.56% in favor;
- Precinct 18, 90.20% in favor;
- Precinct 28, 92.97% in favor;
- Precinct 29, 89.86% in favor; and
- Precinct 91, 88.24% in favor.
On September 18, 2018, during a presentation to the Magnolia Area Republican Women at Magnolia High School, Calvin Russell, husband of a Republican Precinct Chair from Magnolia, asked Riley, “Commissioner, are you for or against [having a voter referendum on the proposed tollroad] and why?” Riley answered, “I’m not for or against it. The county attorneys said we couldn’t put anything like that on the ballot for a referendum for any opinion.” He paused and then added, “I would always want someone to be able to vote on something like that.”
“I would always want someone to be able to vote on something like that [the proposed tollroad].” – – Charlie Riley, Precinct 2 County Commissioner, September 18, 2018.
There’s actually quite an easy option for County voters to have just that opportunity that Riley has promised he would try to give the voters. It’s a particularly acute concern, because voters even in the Magnolia area voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 2. That option would be to put the TX 249 Tollway up for consideration through financing by general obligation bonds. Then Riley and Doyal would have the opportunity to defend their Tollway project in a voter referendum, and voters could vote up or down whether they want the TX 249 Tollway at all.