By Larry Gallardo, Hidalgo County Constable and TAC President
It has been a busy couple of months at TAC. It all started with the 86th legislative session, which finally came to an end on May 27. This one was another hard session for counties and local government. We did make it out the other side alive — mostly — and that was in large part to the efforts of TAC’s Legislative Department. They sure do work hard and fight for what’s right for counties. I thank them for all they do. I also want to thank all of you who took time out of your busy lives to drive to Austin and speak to legislators on behalf of counties. Our voice was loud, and though it felt like they weren’t listening at times, I do believe they heard us.
On a positive note, though, we had a big party the day after the session to celebrate TAC’s 50th birthday. It was a celebration for all 254 of us. What an incredible achievement — despite the challenges we face from time to time at the state level. The party was a hit, with lots of returning faces, including former executive directors, Board members, past presidents and previous general counsels. Of course, we also honored the current TAC staff who do so much to help all counties. I was lucky enough to help cut the cake, which was not only beautiful but also delicious. You can read more about the celebration and view photos on page 22.
Lastly, I’d like to remind everyone about the TAC Legislative Conference in Austin, Sept. 4-6. While it may be the interim, our work is not done. We need to start now to prepare for 2021. By laying the groundwork now, we will be more prepared.
The conference offers not only exceptional keynote speakers like The Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith but also a ton of break-out session designed to inform, challenge and engage attendees. The first day starts with Smith’s Focused on the Future keynote followed by two different panel discussions about the relationship between state legislators and counties. Breakout sessions will cover a wide array of topics, including understanding the state’s budget, how to create a more efficient court, reinventing disaster response, the 2020 census and redistricting and a closing session moderated by TAC Senior Legislative Manager Rick Thompson: Property Tax Reform and Relief.
The CommCube will also be back, but this year the focus will be on public relations with four new modules presented by Leslie Rhode, a strategic communications consultant and media specialist. She will discuss best practices for building relationships with the media and how to get your county’s story out there.
And as always, there will be plenty of networking with exhibitors, as well as social events with fellow county officials. I encourage you to not only attend the conference but also to invite your state legislator, so they get a better idea of what we do across the state every day. We are the boots on the ground, and they need to see us in action. Building those relationships now will pay off down the road.
This conference will be my last as president. I look forward to seeing many of you there and handing the reins over to President-elect and Comal County Treasurer Renee Couch. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since I took office — almost as hard as it is to believe it’s been 50 years since the birth of TAC. Here’s to 50 more!