County Treasurer candidate questionnaires

Candidates for Presidio County Treasurer weigh in on their qualifications and goals ahead of the November 8 General Election

Frances Garcia (D)

1. Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?

I have lived in Marfa my entire life. My two sons, David Lee Garcia and John Daniel Garcia are my greatest accomplishment.

I began my public service career as a Presidio County Deputy Clerk in 2002, for then Presidio County & District Clerk Brenda Silva Bentley. I served in that capacity for six years. I went directly from that job to the Presidio County Attorney’s Office and served as an administrative assistant for another six years. I then made the decision to file for the office of Presidio County Treasurer, where I was elected and took office in 2015, now finishing the end of my second term, and would be honored to serve my beautiful Presidio County for another term! I work hard and am dedicated to being the best custodian of funds for Presidio County that I can be.

2. How, in the role of county treasurer, will you optimize systems and work effectively with others?

I feel like I currently have an efficient and effective system in place. The Presidio County Treasurer’s Office is run solely by Presidio County Deputy Treasurer Cheryl Calvert, who has been by my side since I began, and myself. We have an open-door policy, and welcome anyone from Presidio County employees, elected officials, department heads, and anyone from the general public to come into our office and see what we do on any given day.

My office receives and deposits all county revenues, acts as the chief liaison between the county and depository banks, disburses funds upon the order of the commissioners court, records receipts and expenditures, and reconciles bank statements for various accounts, prepares the payroll, required to submit regular reports on county finance to the members of the commissioners court, acts as the county’s human resources officer, employee benefits coordinator, risk manager and insurance coordinator, assure the accuracy and safety of all county funds, process the payment of bills approved by commissioners court, facilitates social security, county retirement, group health insurance and deductions for county employees and retirees. I take my role as the chief custodian of county funds very seriously. I give 100% and pride myself on my honesty and integrity in that role.

3. What do you foresee as the greatest challenges facing the role of the county treasurer in the coming term?

The greatest challenge that I see my office facing in the coming term is probably the never-ending changes to rules and regulations being made by the state of Texas. They continue to require counties to take on unfunded state mandates, which also creates more reporting requirements for our office. My assistant and I have a great system where we divvy up the workload to make sure that bills, payroll, various state reports, reconciliations, commissioners court reports, among many other duties are completed in a timely and efficient manner.

4. What are some of your goals for the future of the county treasurer’s office? How would you work toward establishing and maintaining those goals?

I believe that I am already meeting the goals set for this office when I was first elected in 2014. The goal was to provide highly competent and quality fund management to the people of Presidio County. We mended relationships with vendors who were disheartened by the slow payment process and financial instability of the previous administration. There was a debt where we showed owing to the Internal Revenue Service since December of 2011 for improperly filed Form 941 payroll taxes, that had us owing over $101,201.06. I was able to correct and re-file the document that cleared that debt in July of 2017 and Presidio County only ended up paying $1,156.73, a small penalty for the length of time that document remained incorrectly filed. We have recently received a clean audit, and I don’t expect that to change while I am the Presidio County Treasurer.

5. Why are you the best person to serve as Presidio County Treasurer?

I feel that I am the best person to serve as Presidio County Treasurer because I have been doing the job for the past almost eight years now. I have the experience and knowledge. I work hard and diligently! I am always there early and often stay late, I am committed to the people of Presidio County and will continue to serve with honesty and integrity if given the opportunity once again.

David Chavez (R)

1. Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?

I decided to run for office, both out of a sense of duty and because I believe that my 20 or more years of increasing responsible senior-level public sector positions has provided me with the business acumen and seminal leadership qualities to confidently step into this position with minimal introduction. I hold a master’s degree in public administration from Governors State University and a bachelor’s degree in hydrology from Utah State University. I retired from the United States Marine Corps as a 1st Lieutenant and Executive officer of Second Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Battalion.

2. How, in the role of County Treasurer, will you optimize systems and work effectively with others?

It is difficult to answer how I would optimize systems, given that I am not familiar with the system currently in place. I am confident that, if elected, I will be reviewing all operational practices of the treasurer’s office to determine if the protocols in place comport with acceptable accounting practices that I have been exposed to through my years as a public administrator. My primary thrust will be to evaluate the efficiency and accuracy of the services delivered to both the citizens of the county and the board of commissioners on a daily basis. Relative to working effectively with others, I intend to approach this position with an enthusiastic management style that welcomes critical input, encourages teamwork, resulting in operational excellence and efficient fiscal accountability.

3. What do you see as the greatest challenges facing the role of County Treasurer in the coming term?

Assuming that I am elected to the treasurer’s position, there will certainly be an introductory period where my greatest challenges will be creating associations with my co-workers and subordinates to ensure a harmonious working environment. Concomitantly, I will need to put my best foot forward to create a smooth transition with county residents regarding the services they have grown used to expect. Perhaps most importantly, I will be required to become intimately familiar with the budget and the other duties of the County Treasurer. While I do expect to be a quick study in this arena, I, nevertheless, will need to expend much energy becoming proficient with all office responsibilities and accepted protocols as quickly as possible. Finally, I will be dependent on my subordinate(s) to be helpful in providing me with insights into the intricacies of the job that may facilitate a quicker mastery of my everyday duties.

4. What are some of your goals for the future of the County Treasurer’s office? How would you work toward establishing and maintaining these goals?

If there is anything I have learned in my professional life, it is that one cannot come into a position like a bull in a China closet and immediately begin to initiate change. I like to enter a position and work under the existing rules until I determine that the rule in question requires either modification or change altogether. Moreover, I have always had a penchant for trying to improve the working conditions of the employee in any way that I can. For instance, in one position, I was successful in changing the payroll system to electronic deposits, thus allowing the employee access to their cash a day earlier. Some employees liked the system, others did not. Since the system was voluntary, no one was harmed. In general, however, I can sum up my goals for this position in the following manner: maintain or improve customer service to the county resident; maintain or improve interdepartmental communications and working environments; working closely with the county judge and board of commissioners ensuring accurate and timely accounting information. In general, I would like my presence at the courthouse to be harmonious, productive, and beneficial to all.

5. Why are you the best person to serve as Presidio County Treasurer?

A quick comparison of my qualifications compared to those of my opponent will quickly demonstrate that I have eminently more experience in the public sector than she. While she has the advantage of a more recent single experience at the local level, my varied and broad-based executive-level positions over a span of 20 years, has given me a much broader perspective regarding such things as intergovernmental agreements, interaction with federal and state programs, and a bevy of other contacts that could prove advantageous for the county in the next four years. Finally, I returned to school to complete a master’s program in public administration that provided me with a big picture view of the public sector. This experience has provided me with a better perspective of the ins and outs of the public sector, enabling me to be a much richer contributor to the county commission on matters other than just public finance.