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In this series, Texas Tech Public Media sits down with candidates across the board to discuss issues facing their constituents.

Conversations with Candidates: Gary Boren for Lubbock County Judge

Gary Boren

Think of County Judge as the CEO of the county. They also handle several judicial matters. There are two Republican candidates vying for the seat in Lubbock, and they faced off before in 2018. For our conversations with candidates series, we've invited both of the contenders to our studio for discussions about key issues in the community. Gary Boren is one of the candidates.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: First off, just introduce yourself to us.

Gary Boren: I'm Gary Boren, born and raised in Lubbock, went to Monterey High School, worked my way through Texas Tech University, graduated with a degree there and then went into business with my mom. She started a business called G Boren Services. We did event staffing, security and job placement. We did the stadium security, stadium operations for 25 years [at] United Supermarkets Arena. If you've ever been to a concert, football game, baseball game, Big 12, that's our staff. That was G Boren Service staff. Also have been in the music promotion business - brought Sir Paul McCartney to Lubbock, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alan Jackson, worked with Garth Brooks. I was Garth Brooks' personal security guard while he was here for five concerts, 75,000 tickets sold.

Since then, I've been appointed by three different governors to be on three different boards. Governor Mark White put me on the Vocational Technical Board. Rick Perry, when the appraisals were going crazy, appointed me to be on the Appraisal Task Force Board to study appraisals throughout the state of Texas and bring rack solutions. And then lastly, two years ago, 2019 Governor Greg Abbott put me on the Brazos River Authority Board. So if you're familiar with the Brazos River, Lake Alan Henry's on it, Possum Kingdom, Granbury, Livingston all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, through Waco to the Gulf of Mexico, to secure water rights for the Northwest and North Texas.

And I served on the school board for Lubbock, the youngest ever elected president school board, and also on the city council, had two terms there. Last time, I was elected by where 80% of central Lubbock, District 3 when I served there.

The reason I'm running is for three reasons. Number one - crime. Crime is out of control in Lubbock, Texas, and it takes a strong leader to work with law enforcement to work with the community, policing, [Texas Department of Public Safety], [Lubbock Police Department], all these different groups to help stop the crime. When you have a million people cross over the Rio Grande, they're not staying in along the border, they're assimilating into our Texas cities. Lubbock is 11th largest city. We have all these illegals coming in, not all are certainly bad people. But there's a great amount that they've never been vetted or checked out. We had open borders, so we got cartels using kids and people to traffic drugs [like] fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and meth. And we have our spiking going on right now with a juvenile age group. And so I've worked with crime. I've worked with these different departments. I'm the only candidate in this race that the Lubbock Professional Police Association endorsed, they endorsed me because my hard stand on crime, protecting your property and your person. And that's critical in this race.

*A note for clarification: Texas Tech Public Media could not verify that a million people have crossed the Rio Grande Valley, but there is a surge you can read about here

Number two, we have out-of-control taxes and appraisals going on to the homeowners. And with inflation, we’re at 7.5%, that's another tax on top of that. You need somebody with a proven record of saying no to spending, knowing how to reset priorities, knowing how to re-establish priorities and keeping things within the budget to protect you on that.

We have these roads. We have roads - $100 million bond was passed in 2019 by my opponent, [Parrish] hadn’t done one thing to get it going. We have the Expo Center to take the place of the Coliseum that passed by 65% of the citizens of Lubbock County. They said build it, they still haven’t been able to get things done because of all the hurdles that [Parrish] has allowed and put up that has not helped this project take place.

And then lastly, you have software issues in Lubbock County. Lubbock County is a part of the criminal justice system. You have the courts, you have the DHS office, you have the sheriff and you have the correctional facility or the jail, and the software connects all of them. [Parrish] was totally 100% responsible January one of his first day in office with Tyler Technology, and it has become nothing but a boondoggle under his care, because he's not a business person. I'm a 40-year business person, we had payroll over $5 million, we employ over 1800 people a year, I know how to do business functions, I know how to fix things. And that's got to get fixed. We have people being in jail that shouldn't be there. They can't get out. They can't get records online. It's a tremendous boondoggle that's costing and putting us in legal liability.

*A note for clarification - There are software issues in Lubbock County, you can read about them here

So those are the issues why I'm running. This job requires three things - it requires administrative skills. According to the Texas Constitution, it requires judicial skills, which is handling non contested probates, guardianships, and middle cases. And lastly is legislative, where you pass policies for the whole county and the operation. And my opponent, by his own admission, spends 70% of his time doing only the one leg of the chair, judicial, and that's non contested and contested. And as far as I can tell, what [Parrish’s] lack of providing leadership and vision to the commissioner's court, that has led to a complete breakdown of what our infrastructure in the business needs that have to get taken care of also. When you put too much emphasis on one leg, the chair can’t stand up. And that's what has occurred. Now there's also another reason I believe he's spending most of his time on the judicial leg of this of this component, is because when he does that the state gives him a $25,000 salary bonus, most people don't realize that. So I think it has something to do with his salary more than has to do with anything else.

So this is a critical position. It should be the CEO Administrator of the county. And I intend to make all three legs stand independent and strong, and do the job required by the Constitution. This job, you could be the county judge, you can be the county judge, a truck driver, a teacher, a small business person, a mom, you know, anyone can because it's a citizen, constitutional job, in the Constitution that we serve in the state. My opponent keeps trying to mislead you by saying that you need to be an attorney to do this job. That is not correct. It's inaccurate. As a matter of fact, if you were to bring the dean of the [Texas Tech] law school to be the county judge, he has to take 30 hours of what you have to do just like I do, I'll have to take 30 hours if elected, he would take the same 30 hours on how to administer non contested probates, mental cases and guardianships. It's required, it’s a citizens job. Never forget it. If you want to be a judge, then the legislature set up county courts and three district courts. That's where you run for being a judge. This is an administrator job with a judicial component, not 70%. So that's the very reasons I'm running.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: You resigned from the Lubbock City Council in 2007, citing personal reasons. I wanted to give you a chance to address that.

Gary Boren: What you're asking about is something that happened two decades ago. I don't recall where you would be at that time, but we were going through a major, the largest recession in the history of Lubbock. We're in the job business, and our business, being in the job business was suffering. I had hundreds of families that depend on us to make a living. And my mom started this business and she said, “Gary, we got to get our business going, it's hurting right now because you spend all your time at City Hall.” So I left my term early to focus on getting our business back on track and going, and brace it for the biggest recession, where companies in Lubbock were laying off hundreds of people, and any [insinuation] that there's something wrong or whatever is false. It's a false narrative. And it's nothing but a smear from any political opponents of anything regarding that, because two decades has proven that a lot of that stuff was nothing but personal attacks because of the stand I take for taxpayers, for property owners, and protecting the police and fire and doing those kind of things.

That's why I have been endorsed by the Police Association. That's why when Governor Greg Abbott appointed me… you want to know how it’s like to be vetted? I was vetted by the best in the state and then had to go through Texas Senate confirmation. They go through your background with a fine steel tooth comb, everything and it's clean, I have a clean background. So that's all I'll say about that - two decades ago, untrue. And that's the reason we did it, as far as the survival of our business.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Let's get into some of those issues that you've already touched on a little bit, but I want to go into them a little bit more. One issue that citizens are thinking about as they head to the polls is the Lubbock County Expo Center. If elected, how will you see that project through fruition?

Gary Boren: Well first thing you have to do is you got to realize you have a revenue stream that's done by the HOT tax [Hotel Occupancy Tax], it's called visitor’s tax. That's the same tax you pay when you go to Dallas-Fort Worth to see the Dallas Cowboys play, the Mavericks, Texas Rangers, the Stars, you pay a hotel tax, it builds your facilities. Lubbock passed at 65% to do the same thing here. And [Parrish] has held up that component by not showing leadership, by not working with the financial advisors, the banks. Working with the revenue stream and seeing how it has grown, the revenue stream today is greater than it was pre-COVID days, and to use COVID as an excuse why you don't do anything is wrong. Texas Tech didn't stop building during the COVID years. Covenant hospital didn't stop building, UMC didn't stop building. Lubbock Cooper High School didn't stop building, neither did Frenship, you don't stop. And you certainly don't close down businesses. By the way, as an insert, I will not close down businesses like my opponent allowed take place. Churches, gun stores, mom and pop stores, hair salons, barbers, I won't do that, I will not allow you to be shut down. As long as our box stores are open, you're going to be open.

*A note for clarification: In the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that limited the number of people who could gather in groups, including at businesses and churches. You can find a timeline of events here.

[Parrish’s] lack of leadership working with a private board not assisting him has hurt this project, grants have already been broken. And they're doing everything on the private side to get it going. When that passed the private board, under Randy Jordan, came to Curtis and the commissioner's court and said, “We got this election done, we need your help to do it.” And they said we don't know anything about how this works, we don't understand how it works. So they signed contracts for them to do the development, to do the engineering, the construction of this whole project and then bring it back to them at its completion. So this private group, and I’ll just call them private group, they went out and did everything they did. And they're smart, they hired the same people that built Buddy Holly Hall, same engineer, same architect, same developer, same construction, to save Lubbock taxpayers, the Lubbock community, money by using the expertise that has been going on currently. And it's made a world wide difference on what's going on. And so we have everything in place. We just need leadership to push it across the goal line.

*Texas Tech Public Media could not confirm the statements made by Randy Jordan. Read more about the Expo Center here.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: We've also talked a little bit about crime. What are your specific plans to combat that as a county judge?

Gary Boren: First of all, I mentioned a million people crossing our border and a lot of its juvenile crime. My opponent cut out $2 million out of the juvenile facility last budget session. And what has taken place, we have two cartels in Lubbock, [Sinoala and] Chapa. We also have over 1,700 registered gang members in Lubbock, Texas, and we also have over 73 gangs. These are identified by LPD, DPS, [Homeland] security, Sheriff's Office, they know who they are. We also have seen video of gangs marching in Lubbock streets with guns, taunting law enforcement, “Come get us, here we are.” And what [law enforcement] doing, they're getting tough, but they need an elected leader who will stand behind him and not let them get clipped from behind. They know Gary Boren stands with law enforcement. I've ridden with him. I've been in DPS helicopters. I've ridden with sheriff's office, I've ridden with LPD officers. I've been in SWAT situations where gunfire was exchanged between drug dealers. And these cartels are very sophisticated, high tech, and they use under 17 [years-old], they call them juvies, juveniles to use to infiltrate football games for kids, high school events, neighborhoods. And we'll get real tough with them. We're going into these neighborhoods, we're going to bust the gang houses, we're going to bust all these areas where they have drugs concentrated, and we’re going to get tough and we're going to deal with them. And it's gonna be hard and tough because I have to protect you.

That's my number one responsibility, protect you as a person and your property, and I will do that. That's why, when I was on the City Council District 3, which is Tech Terrace in Central Lubbock, they supported me because they knew Gary Boren, when the college kids would get out there and pee on their lawns, get drunk and everything else. I'm getting just real basic with you, we’d load up the paddy wagon with them and took them off. I'm not gonna tolerate that and I will not tolerate that in Lubbock, Texas. I'm not gonna let the city become a cultural, woke, whatever you want to call it. We're going to set up our forces be tough on crime and carry out the will of the people of Lubbock, Texas.

*A note for clarification: According to the Lubbock Police Department, like other cities throughout Texas, Lubbock does have a cartel presence—those that have been seen include Sinaloa (CDS), La Linda (CDJ), Beltran-Levya (BLO), Zetas (CDN) and the Gulf Cartel (CDG). While cartels and gangs are known to use juveniles to commit crimes, the specific scenario mentioned by Gary Boren has not been seen by LPD. There are currently 1,655 known gang members in Lubbock and 86 gangs. Regarding video evidence of gangs marching down the streets and taunting police officers, LPD stated, “there are multiple rap videos of Lubbock gangs carrying firearms in different parts of the city. These videos typically are centered around the narcotics trade. It is common for them to taunt the police and to threaten their enemies.”

Sarah Self-Walbrick: And lastly, why should voters cast their ballot in your favor?

Gary Boren: Experience. And number two, I tell the truth. Experience of over 40 years in business, handling payrolls, handling projects, working at Texas Tech, working hospitals manufacturing distributions, United, warehouses, all these different companies knowing how to provide what they needed done and security. And then number two, not only that 40 years of business experience and knowing how to solve problems, to survive in Lubbock, dealing with banks, the other payroll, and customers, also is experienced in government. I've got years and years of dealing with government budgets. I know how to hold the line on budget from school, city and state agencies. I've done it. I'll do it for Lubbock. I just reset priorities. You don't have to spend more money. They've got plenty of money. I've never seen a government budget I couldn't re-establish five or 10% different priorities. I will do that. And take those priorities, protect your person, your property and get things built in Lubbock, Texas, the way you the citizens, you're our bosses. I don't give you mixed talk, sweet talk, flowery talk, I talk straight talk. The best kind of talk is straight talk and a good understanding is a straight understanding. To get things done. I will do that.

Have a news tip? Email Sarah Self-Walbrick at saselfwa@ttu.edu. Follow her reporting on Twitter @SarahFromTTUPM.

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Sarah Self-Walbrick is the news director at Texas Tech Public Media, where she leads the news team and focuses on underreported stories in Lubbock. Sarah is a Lubbock native and a three-time graduate of Texas Tech University. She started her career at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
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  • In this series, Texas Tech Public Media sits down with candidates across the board to discuss issues facing their constituents.