The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
New Caney and Conroe, March 3 – Matt Gray’s upset victory over Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts could bring a tidal wave of change to that office in New Caney and possibly even to the operations of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court.
The East Montgomery County business community largely supported Gray’s election over Metts, whom they perceived as distant, out of touch with the needs of East Montgomery County, and only a part-time County Commissioner. Numerous leaders of the East Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce spoke with The Golden Hammer, on the condition of anonymity, about their complaints about incumbent Commissioner Metts.
Two major East Montgomery County leaders were quite vocal in their support of Gray and in their opposition to Metts. One person who opposed Metts’ re-election was former Precinct 4 Commissioner Ed Rinehart, who remains one of the most popular individuals in the community. Rinehart had supported Metts over previous Commissioner Jim Clark in the 2018 Republican Primary Election, but Rinehart endorsed Gray in 2022.
Another longtime community leader who supported Gray’s election over Metts was Fred Wetz, the longtime Porter insurance agent, who has served on the Board of Directors of the East Montgomery County Improvement District since 1997. Wetz spoke with this newspaper several weeks ago to discuss his concerns about the failure of the Commissioner’s Office to complete a number of projects on the 2015 approved road bond and to complete road and bridge maintenance projects.
When Gray appeared on “It’s Hammer Time” on February 11, he made clear that his top priorities would be (1) to complete road projects, such as the extension and widening of Sorters Road and the extension of David Memorial Drive, (2) ending nepotism in the Commissioner’s Office, and (3) re-opening the Office to the public, so that citizens felt welcome to contact the Commissioner and his employees.
Nevertheless, although most of Gray’s priorities as Commissioner, which he discussed during his campaign, he also mentioned his commitments to “prudently maintain… the budget, work…with teams to manage the growth that we are experiencing, properly maintain…the roads, improve drainage, fight…to lower taxes…and bring…an end to wasteful spending!”
Thus, it appears that the Montgomery County Commissioners Court may have a conservative majority of three, and possibly even four, members: Gray, Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, and, arguably, Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Walker. Although Keough has voted for several major new County government spending items, he has continuously argued and voted to keep taxes at or the same level as in previous budget years.
Therefore, the election of Gray brings the real possibility of County government spending reform to “lower” taxes rather than merely to keep them at the same level, lowering being a goal of Precinct 3 Commissioner Noack for many years.