Who would have thought Joe Barton getting all spanky-monkey on the internet would come back to bite us in the ass? We reported earlier this year about how red-light camera tickets are a joke in Tarrant County (“Confessions of a Scofflaw,” May 3). They generate millions of dollars for cities and states (and private red-light camera companies) every year but have a negligible effect on public safety. To make sure the dough keeps rolling in, city officials threaten to block motorists from receiving auto registration renewals unless their outstanding camera tickets are paid. But that threat relies on cooperation from county tax assessor-collectors, the ones with the actual power to withhold registrations.
Tarrant County’s top tax guy, Ron Wright, refuses to enforce the holds (“Red-Light Drama,” July 19).
Wright, however, resigned recently to seek election for the Congressional seat recently vacated by Barton, who decided against seeking reelection after thinking it was a good idea to send a PM –– privates message –– to a constituent. (Note to self: If you run for public office in the future, resist tweeting photos of your junk to voters.)
Wright will continue serving as tax assessor-collector until his successor is selected in the November general election, he said.
Once Wright is gone, will us scofflaws be required to pay our red-light tickets and late fees?
Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on who is elected to lead the office.
“If I’m replaced by a Republican,” he said, “which I expect I will be because we are still a Republican county, I think it would be political suicide if they try to change that.”
County commissioners have supported Wright’s refusal to withhold registrations ever since the Texas Legislature put a scofflaw statute into the transportation code in 2011 to make it easier for city and county governments to collect fines from unpaid red-light camera tickets.
Tarrant might remain one of the few counties bucking the scofflaw rule after all.
Wright has a decent chance of nabbing Barton’s Congressional seat. Wright served as Barton’s chief of staff for years and is a longtime participant in local politics.
“I’ve got experience at every level of government, years of community service, volunteer work, and boards and commissions before I ever ran for office,” Wright said. “I’m a known commodity.”
Wright has attended numerous hearings at the State Capitol to argue for tax reform.
His first priority, should he be elected to Congress, it to “restore trust and confidence in public officials,” he said.
We asked Wright if he has any Barton-esque tweets or pictures floating around.
“I can assure you there are no pictures of me anywhere, no videos,” he said. “About the most embarrassing thing I have is a video of my granddaughter and I eating ice cream and seeing who can finish first.”