UPDATE: Online petitions...virtual and effective change agents

By: J. Werner
| Published 08/16/2015



Social media is changing the local political arena

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - No online petition was needed to ensure that a revised county road bond election would be on the November election ballot, but no doubt, one community activist was waiting with bated breath and finger poised on the ‘Submit’ key.

The slightest hesitation to stall the vote until the 2016 General Election, and the wheels to rectify the county’s mobility woes, would have been in motion.

Community activist and Woodlands Township Director, Gordy Bunch, is 2 for 2, enacting change using online petitions via the social media. The initial petition with 4,981 signatures, alerted elected officials that the controversial Woodlands Parkway extension from FM 2978 to SH 249 would result in the road bond failing at the polls, unless removed from the referendum. The county commissioners failed to remove it, and the voters failed to pass it.

More recently, the petition against elected Montgomery County officials voting themselves a 10 percent pay increase (with many of them in their first year of office), was gaining momentum when the idea was revoked.

When the Commissioners Court stated that they would wait another year before proposing a revised road bond referendum, another petition was probably being drafted. In a surprising turn of events, the powers that be hammered out a revision and voted to place in on the 2015 November 3 ballot.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but the keyboard is quicker.


MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - Social media appears to be having a profound effect on the political arena. For the second time in five months, Facebook has been leveraged to hold local politicians accountable. The May 9th County Road Bond Election was defeated before the polls even opened, as a result of a petition posted on Facebook.

Within hours of a proposed 10% pay increase for elected Montgomery County officials, a firestorm erupted in the social media. One of the first to raise objection was Gordy Bunch, one of The Woodlands Township’s Directors and community activist. The following was posted the morning of August 12 (8:41 a.m.), the day after the Commissioners Court Meeting...

“I thought this was a joke but now see this is real. Let me know how you feel about this huge pay raise. 2 commissioners and the county Judge haven't been in their roles for a year yet and somehow believe they deserved a raise over 3x's larger than they gave the rest of the counties employees? Let me know how you feel about this,” posted Bunch on his Facebook page.

Two days later a Petition was posted, and was getting widespread circulation.

The following press release was sent to various media sources…

“Our county commissioners and county judge have proven to be tone deaf and politically clueless by first ignoring the will of the majority of county voters who defeated their May 9 road bond proposition, and now the commissioners are voting themselves a 10 percent pay raise.

The citizens of Montgomery County are paying attention and recognize that the commissioners have done nothing to justify any kind of raise, let alone a 10 percent raise, especially while most homeowners are experiencing 10 percent increases in their property assessments. Comparing Montgomery County to other counties’ practices to justify this ludicrous increase is a ploy to justify their all-too-transparent greed. They did not mention that they now will be paid more than the Harris County commissioners who represent more than a million citizens.

Oh, and you will be paying for their cell phones, too. None of these shady politicians are conservatives. Their day of reckoning will come when the same 57 percent and more of the voters who rejected their poorly planned bond issue will rise up to end their nefarious political careers. The 10 percent tax increase inflicted on every resident in Montgomery County is unconscionable and justification enough to demand that the judge and commissioners repeal their planned increases.

Gordy Bunch

One by one, the dominos began to drop.

“Commissioner Noack has come out and agreed to walk the raises back to the same level as other county employees. We still need the county judge and other commissioners to follow his lead,” posted Bunch.

The following was posted later the same day (7:14 p.m.) the petition went up.

“I strongly believe in listening to the voice of the voter. The proposed elected official increases have generated a discussion which I believe is vital to self-governance. Therefore, I withdraw my support for any salary adjustments for elected officials for the 2016 budget year over and beyond the 3% cost of living (COLA) awarded to all county employees and elected officials. Furthermore, I believe the Commissioner’s Court should establish a committee to evaluate any future elected official adjustments beyond COLA’s awarded to our employees. As always, I will give you 100% and listen to your voice.”

James Noack

Commissioner Noack will be the first up for reelection in 2016.

Earlier on the same day ( Aug. 14, 10:44 a.m.) the following post appeared on County Judge Craig Doyal’s Facebook page…


“We have been hearing concerns from constituents countywide about elected official pay raises for Fiscal Year 2016, and I understand those concerns.

In response, I will propose at the next meeting of Commissioners Court on Aug. 25 to reconsider the proposed pay raises for elected officials for Fiscal Year 2016, to include only the 3 percent cost of living increase being given to all county employees.

In addition, in order to ensure a more transparent and detailed approach to raises for elected officials in the future, I will be proposing creation of a county Elected Official Salary Committee, performing a function somewhat like our Salary Grievance Committee in terms of reviewing salaries. I will work with our commissioners to determine how best to constitute such a committee.

Meanwhile we will continue to work on other important issues, including final adoption of a budget that for the first time ever creates a fund for capital improvements, adds additional revenue to the debt service fund balance, adds additional funding for law enforcement, and increases funding for each commissioners precinct to meet the ever-growing need for road maintenance and better mobility throughout Montgomery County.

People have asked my position on the Commissioners pay increase. I knew what the position paid when I ran for office, it is an honor to serve as your Commissioner, Sheriff Gage and I agree that our increase should be the same as our employees,” per Judge Craig Doyal’s post.

And later in the day of August 14 (6:51 p.m.), the Precinct 2 County Commissioner, Charlie Riley, posted on his Facebook page…

“People have asked my position on the Commissioners pay increase. I knew what the position paid when I ran for office, it is an honor to serve as your Commissioner, Sheriff Gage and I agree that our increase should be the same as our employees.”

At 8:37 p.m. on August 14, County Commissioner of Precinct 4, Jim Clark, posted…

“A government is best run when the public officials voted for by the people, listen to their constituents and do their best to carry out their will. I do not want the focus of my role, within that government, to be what I myself get paid. Therefore I will only be willing to accept the 3% cost of living raise that the very hard working and talented employees of Montgomery County have also been awarded through the upcoming budget. The focus of my tenure in office will continue to be what is best for the residents of Montgomery County that I feel honored to serve. I will continue to serve the people with passion and respect. My door is always open and I am honored to be your Montgomery County Precinct 4 Commissioner,” posted Commissioner Clark.

No word yet on where County Commissioner of Precinct 1, Mike Meador, or any of the other elected Montgomery County officials, stand on the issue, with the exception of Sheriff Tommy Gage, as referenced by both County Judge, Craig Doyal, and Commissioner Pct 2 Charlie Riley. Constable Precinct 5, David Hill, didn’t comment on his Facebook page, but posted the comments from County Commissioners Jim Clark (Pct. 4), and Charlie Riley (Pct. 2).

Note: Some elected officials not accessible via social media.

See related links:

A message from Gordy Bunch

To the victors (?) belong the spoils

The days of labor-intensive, time-consuming, door-to-door signature gathering to file a petition, are over. The ability to reach the masses via social media, has expedited the process, and with it, the ability to overturn unpopular referendums in an expedient manner before they can be voted on and approved.

No longer does an elected office necessarily signify a position of power and entitlement, but instead, one that it was originally intended to be...a public servant.


Comments •
Log In to Comment