A former Smith County Road and Bridge Department engineer is running for Precinct 3 county commissioner to realign the court's priorities.
Bill Bala, 62, said the county's priorities are out of sync with the true needs of the county and its residents. For years, commissioners have spent money on downtown properties and facilities rather than properly fund a core county service – county roads, he said.
"What does county government do if they don't take care of roads?" Bala said. "Building and maintaining roads are a basic function and the most important right after law enforcement."
Bala knows a bit about the county's road system.
He was the county's Road and Bridge Engineer from 2004 to 2007. He said he took over a department beleaguered by previous commissioners court's ideas of how best to build, maintain and finance county roads.
"There've not been any substantial changes since I left. In fact, it's gotten worse," he said. "There's been a shift in priorities when county roads should be a high priority."
Bala said he joined the race later than the other two candidates but has been making rounds at coffee shops and civic organizations to make a case for his vision.
He has a 35-year engineering and construction background, predominantly in the petrochemical industry around the country and globe. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a master's degree in engineering.
Precinct 3 covers the northern half of Smith County, including Lindale, Winona, Hideaway and portions of Overton and Tyler.
Bala will face incumbent Terry Phillips and businessman Ronnie Pilcher. Early voting for the March 1 primaries begins Feb. 16.