We honor the county officials who have led the TAC Board of Directors during almost half a century. Their leadership has enabled the TAC Board and the Association to support the evolving needs of county officials and county government in serving the people of Texas.
Brazoria County Clerk
Brazoria County Clerk Joyce Hudman served as TAC President during two years marked by challenges and achievements. Under her guidance, the Association represented counties before the 85th Texas Legislature during a particularly contentious session; rolled out a new program to advance the leadership skills of county officials, Leadership 254; established the publicly accessible County Elections Database for all county-held elections; and improved member records access across all TAC departments to better serve members.
She became Brazoria County Clerk in 1999 and soon became involved with the County and District Clerks’ Association of Texas, where she served as president in 2011. In 2012, she joined the TAC Board of Directors and served on multiple Association committees over the years, including the Executive, Audit, Budget and Leadership Development committees. She also served on the TAC Risk Management Pool Board and Executive Committee from 2013 to 2015.
Don R. Allred
Oldham County Judge
Oldham County Judge Don Allred served as TAC President during a period of growth and accomplishment at the Association in support of Texas counties.
During his tenure, Allred helped kick off the Texas Counties Deliver public information campaign to improve understanding of and trust in county government. He also led stepped-up efforts to increase members’ influence at the State Capitol to help lawmakers understand how their decisions in Austin affect county government. Allred worked closely with the TAC Board, the boards of TAC’s pools and Association staff to continue to provide the best possible benefits and services to members while keeping the pools fiscally sound.
He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 15 years prior to his election as Oldham County judge in 1991. Before his TAC presidency, Allred served on the TAC Board as the representative from the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association and the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas.
Navarro County Justice of the Peace
Navarro County Justice of the Peace Connie Hickman led the Association after a period of transition and into a period focused on cohesiveness, improvement and growth.
As the first justice of the peace and the first woman to take the TAC helm, Judge Hickman worked to ensure that Association committees are represented by elected officials from all officeholder positions. She also led the way in enhancing county investment officer training through the creation of the new County Investment Academy and in creating significant connections with other state associations and with national county leaders working to protect and improve local governments.
Judge Hickman’s long-term dedication and experience in public office were of enormous benefit to the Association. She was first elected to her position in 1990. She joined the TAC Board of Directors in 2005, served as president of the Justices of the Peace and Constables Association and was twice honored as a National Judicial College scholarship recipient.
Roberts County Judge
Roberts County Judge Vernon Cook served as TAC president in 2010 and 2011, overseeing a time of transition within the Association. Together with newly appointed Executive Director Gene Terry, Judge Cook used his 20 years of county experience to improve the Association's succession process, appoint new leadership to TAC departments and increase the cost-effectiveness of TAC pools, all while advocating on behalf of counties during one of the most challenging legislative sessions in Texas history.
Cook's contributions were crucial to the Association's continued evolution and success.
Judge Cook's dedication to counties is long-standing. He began as a county extension agent and earned his elected post in 1991. Prior to his TAC presidency, Judge Cook served as president of the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association and the Panhandle Regional
Planning Commission, as well as on the board of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas. He also served as council member for the City of Miami and on the Miami Independent School District Board of Trustees.
Tarrant County Commissioner
J.D. Johnson, former president of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association, was the first county commissioner to be appointed to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
As TAC president, he led the Board of Directors through a periodic strategic planning process and for the first time, a significant strategic plan was developed by TAC's self-insurance pools. During his tenure, the TAC Health and Employee Benefits Pool launched its Healthy County initiative, an aggressive effort offering incentives to pool member employees, encouraging them to take responsibility for their health. To educate the public about county government, TAC established a new Internet site that offered brief videos about how to access county services as well as provide additional information about counties. Upon the retirement of Karen Ann Norris, the Board of Directors hired former Marion County Judge Gene Terry as executive director.
Brazos County District Clerk
Brazos County District Clerk Marc Hamlin presided over TAC’s operations during a period of significant transition. After the passing of longtime Executive Director Sam Seale, Hamlin chaired a search committee that persuaded Karen Ann Norris to take the job. The TAC Board approved the merger of three self-insurance funds (offering workers’ comp, liability and property/casualty coverages) into the TAC Risk Management Pool. And for the first time, the pools began to offer member counties substantial renewal credits based on loss history and continued renewals.
Hamlin played a major role in legislative battles to maintain county fiscal capability by opposing lower caps on appraisals or revenue. Toward that end, he visited with county leaders in several other states. In addition, he cemented county-municipal relations by initiating, with the Texas Municipal League, the City-County Cooperation Awards that are given jointly to local governments for innovative and cost-effective programs. Hamlin personally presented Best Practices Awards to dozens of commissioners courts and visited more than 100 counties during his tenure.
Harris County Constable
Bill Bailey focused his two-year presidency on his pride in Texas and his love of county government. The Harris County constable challenged all county officials to work in their home communities to educate the public on the importance of county government. Projects initiated during his term include development of brochures and displays explaining counties as well as an aggressive effort to increase media coverage of issues affecting counties. In August 2003, President Bailey presided over the ribbon cutting of the new Texas Association of Counties Building at 1210 San Antonio in Austin, a structure that was designed with his encouragement to be an impressive demonstration of the importance of counties to Texas governance.
During his tenure, the Association reached a long-established financial goal of a $10 million reserve fund. With Bailey’s encouragement, the Association’s County Information Resources Agency saw membership expand to 217 counties. TAC's fully insured health benefits program achieved independence by establishing the self-insured TAC Health and Employee Benefits Pool.
Palo Pinto County Judge
2000-2001 and 2004-2005
Palo Pinto County Judge Mickey West led TAC during the initiation of several important initiatives. His presidential initiative was E-County. He spoke extensively to county groups on the topic and established the E-County Task Force to develop a plan to bring enhanced technology to all Texas counties. West was a member of the TAC Building Committee from its inception and work on the new headquarters in Austin began during West’s tenure.
Judge West was a founding member of the TAC Leadership Foundation Board of Directors, and in 2001 he was appointed as a member of the County Judges Education Committee.
West was elected to office in 1996. Prior to being county judge, he served as Palo Pinto County Auditor for 15 years. He was a past president of the Texas Association of County Auditors. Judge West also chaired TAC’s Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Fund Board, the TAC Investment Committee and Long Range Planning Committee.
Smith County Judge
While serving as TAC president, Larry Craig led a campaign to educate county officials about the wide array of services offered by the Texas Association of Counties. During his tenure, Craig saw to the creation of the County Information Project and the initiation of e-mail listservs, as well as the expansion of the TAC Web site. Multiple “listening posts” were held around the state to get input from county officials. Judge Craig served as Smith County Judge for 16 years. He also holds an advanced Peace Officers Certification from the East Texas Police Academy and has more than 500 classroom hours of judicial education. He is an associate member of the Smith County Bar Association. He was appointed by former Texas governor George W. Bush as chairman of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. He served as a member of the County Judges Education Committee and chaired the TAC’s Leadership Foundation Board. He has been selected as an Outstanding Alumnus of Tyler Junior College, recognized for public service.
David N. Perdue
Knox County Judge
Following bylaw changes in 1995, Judge David N. Perdue served an unprecedented three years as TAC President. During Perdue’s term, the Association initiated its first internet site as the Texas InfoRamp and later as www.county.org. Also, newly passed session laws were made available on CDROM for the first time. Under his leadership, TAC’s CountyChoice employee benefits program developed a long-term strategy to enhance managed care for county employees.
Perdue’s main thrust, however, paralleled his personal interest in continuing education and resulted in the establishment of a specialized education staff devoted to the needs of all TAC members. During his tenure, the education staff was expanded and operations upgraded to allow TAC to obtain credentials from IACET (International Association for Continuing Education and Training) to issues Continuing Education Units. Perdue served Knox County for 17 years. In 1999, the Texas Senate and the House of Representatives recognized Perdue as the only county official in the state’s history to have served as president of every possible state or regional association dealing with county government.
Swisher County Judge
Swisher County Judge Jay Johnson served county government in many roles, including TAC President from 1993-94. He is a past president of the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and a long-term member of the County Judges Education Committee. While serving as judge, Johnson represented county interests on numerous state advisory committees and commissions, including the Indigent Health Care Advisory Committee.
Prior to his service as president, Johnson chaired the TAC Workers Compensation Self-Insurance Fund and oversaw a transition of that program to an upgraded level of claims management. His interest in protecting counties against losses resulted in the establishment of a broad range of loss control training and technical assistance programs during his tenure as TAC president. Johnson served as Swisher County Judge for 12 years, after which he became the Education Program Manager for the Texas Association of Counties.
San Patricio County Commissioner
San Patricio County Commissioner Carl Duncan was perhaps best known for his everyday presence in Austin during the legislative session. He worked tirelessly to promote county concerns, particularly those relating to the crisis of overcrowded county jails due to the need for counties to house state inmates.
His presence in the TAC offices made him a favorite of the growing TAC staff because of his strong support and concern. While Duncan was president, County Government Week observances were established for the first time and TAC’s health benefits program was expanded to assist counties self-insuring their benefits through the establishment of the Employee Benefits Pool. Education and communications projects were also expanded with the establishment of County Magazine as a bimonthly publication and the creation of several significant education programs, including TAC’s County Investment Officer Certification Program, the Advanced County Government Seminar and the Human Resources Institute.
Adolph Thomae Jr.
Cameron County Commissioner
A longtime commissioner in Cameron County, Adolph Thomae Jr. was very active during his term as TAC president. He was enormously involved in the legislative process on behalf of Texas counties and was a key player in the study of indigent health care that resulted in landmark legislation in the mid-1980s. Thomae was the leading force in establishing mandatory continuing education for county commissioners in the state and chaired the first Commissioners Education Committee. He was deeply committed to the welfare of Texas county government, serving as president of the South Texas Judges and Commissioners Association, as well as the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas. Thomae also promoted the growth of local parks in Texas, and a large beach park in Cameron County is named in his honor.
Dallas County Treasurer
Bill Melton was the first non-commissioners court member to serve as president of the Texas Association of Counties. The strategic planning process he established played a pivotal role in elevating the image of the Association and in broadening the scope of services. Melton laid the groundwork for the growth of TAC, from its initial mission of governmental relations to a broader focus as a service organization meeting the needs of all counties and county officials. During his tenure, the Association’s field services program was established and TAC’s first headquarters building at 1204 San Antonio St. in Austin was purchased. The County Government Risk Management Pool was also established.
Bill Melton served as Dallas County Treasurer for 25 years. He was named by American City & County magazine as “County Leader of the Year” in 1995, “Most Valuable County Official in the United States” in 1991 and to the “All-Pro Government Team” in 1988. He also served as president of the County Treasurers’ Association of Texas.
Jefferson County Commissioner
Norman Troy served as Jefferson County Commissioner for seven terms and was well known across the state for his wit and wisdom. During his year in office, counties, like most Texas entities, were faced with a liability insurance crisis. Commissioner Troy and Executive Director Sam Clonts worked tirelessly through three special legislative sessions to obtain legislative approval for counties to join together to self-insure and cover this risk.
During his tenure, TAC’s Workers’ Compensation Fund grew to 332 members, 221 being county members. He served as president of both the South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association and the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas. He served in numerous capacities on state and national advisory commissions and was named “Official of the Year” in 1984 by the South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association.
Garza County Judge
Garza County Judge Giles Dalby’s term as TAC President was actually his first step in a long line of TAC leadership roles. Following his year as president, he went on to chair the board of the newly formed County Government Risk Management Pool and the board of TAC’s Workers Compensation Self-Insurance Fund. Dalby was the founding chair of the County Judges Education Committee.
He and other committee members worked with the Legislature to obtain funding for this important venture. TAC’s orientation programs for newly elected officials were also established during Dalby’s time as president. For many years, Dalby advocated the building of a “home for county government” and was a member of the Building Committee. Dalby is one of Texas’ longest serving county judges. In Garza County, Dalby maintained a focus on economic development. He is also a former president of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, as well as the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association. In both 1975 and 2000, the latter organization elected him “Man of the Year.”
Cochran County Judge
During his term, the Association moved its offices to the United Bank Towers at 15th Street and Guadalupe Street, near the University of Texas campus. Thompson also helped expand TAC’s reach throughout the state – only two of Texas’ 254 counties were not dues-paying members of the Association during his presidency.
Thompson saw to the expansion of the Association’s newly established health benefits program, which grew to include 83 political entities – including 55 counties – during his time in office. Thompson served as a Cochran County Commissioner from 1940 to 1942 and served four terms as Cochran County Judge, beginning in 1947. During his time in public office, Thompson was a progressive leader for Cochran County; a county park, airport and activity buildings were erected during his judgeship. He also initiated creation of the Cochran Memorial Hospital District, which is still in operation today.
Rockwall County Judge
Few county officials have had as extensive a career in county government as Derwood Wimpee. In 1947, Wimpee was elected Rockwall County Clerk. In 1962, he was elected county judge and served 20 years. He was elected for 34 consecutive years of public service and his 20 years as county judge remains a record for this office in Rockwall County.
He was president of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas as well as president of the North and East Texas Judges and Commissioners Association. Judge Wimpee was the first recipient of the North and East Texas Judges and Commissioners Association’s “Man of The Year” Award and served on the Board of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Wimpee’s major thrust as TAC president came in response to requests from members for help in finding affordable health insurance for county employees. Wimpee was involved in establishing TAC’s Group Health Insurance Program and in selecting Prudential Insurance as coverage provider.
Brazoria County Commissioner
Joe Brigance, a native son of Brazoria County, was elected county commissioner in 1962 and held this position for 16 years. During his term as TAC president, the Unemployment Compensation Fund was established and the Board agreed to hold biennial conferences for officials across the state. Brigance was also president of the South Texas Judges and Commissioners Association and the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas. He was also appointed to serve on the Houston/Galveston Area Council of Governments, the Executive Committee of Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association and the Board of Trustees of the Texas County and District Retirement System.
A devoted volunteer all his life, Brigance’s last activity was the Road to Recovery, driving cancer victims to treatment facilities. He served in that capacity until the loss of his own legs.
Knox County Judge
As TAC’s president from 1976-77 and its executive director from 1977-1987, Sam Clonts provided the leadership and stability to establish the Texas Association of Counties as a well-known and respected voice on county issues. He played a major role in initiating TAC’s judicial education program and established an orientation program for newly-elected county judges and commissioners through an affiliation with the University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. To broaden the Association’s role in governmental relations, Clonts worked to establish TAC’s Legislative Symposium, held prior to each legislative session. Clonts also defended county interests to Texas state lawmakers. Critical legislation which received Clonts’ attention included representing counties during the 1985 creation of the Indigent Health Care Act.
He served as county judge in Knox County from 1967 to 1976, and chaired the Citizens State Bank of Knox City from 1983 to 1998. Upon retiring from TAC in 1987, Clonts became a government relations specialist for the law firm of Bickerstaff, Heath and Smiley, a position he held until 1997.
Gregg County Commissioner
Bill Owens, one of TAC’s founding fathers, was TAC’s first appointed executive director in 1969-71 and its third president. Owens personally worked with the Legislature in promoting the establishment of the Association and in encouraging Governor Preston Smith to sign legislation into law. TAC’s early years were spent in Owens’ Gladewater office, where he served as Gregg County Commissioner. It is said that Owens established TAC’s first physical presence in Austin when he brought a trailer from East Texas to the capitol city for the legislative session in 1973.
While Owens was president, TAC’s Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Fund was established after the Texas Legislature mandated that counties provide coverage for all employees. TAC’s paid membership also increased to 245 counties during his presidency. Owens was active in many local organizations and served as president of both the North and East Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association and the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas.
Kenneth "Buck" Douglas
Navarro County Judge
Kenneth “Buck” Douglas was hired by the Board of Directors as TAC’s full-time executive director, subsequent to his role as president. One of TAC’s founding fathers, he helped get TAC off the ground by renting office space in Austin and hiring an assistant, Marilyn Snipes. His guidance and forethought was instrumental in the future of TAC, the results of which are still important and in effect today.
Douglas was Navarro County Judge for 16 years, serving longer than any previous incumbent. Fiscal responsibility and sound economic planning characterized his tenure as county judge, and his superior leadership helped the county to operate nearly free of indebtedness during the years of his service; under Judge Douglas’ guidance, many improvements were made within the county. He resigned from TAC to run as district judge, a post that he would retain for the next 20 years.
Dallam County Judge
W.D. Henson, along with other county officials, played a major role in persuading the state legislature to authorize the creation of TAC. At an inaugural meeting of 11 county associations at the Baker Hotel in Dallas, he was unanimously elected to be TAC’s first president. His term as president was highlighted by a constant presence in Austin during the legislative session. He is also responsible for publishing TAC’s first newsletter and holding its very first legislative reception.
Henson was elected Dallam County Judge in 1950 and served for more than 27 years. He was also president of the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association and the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas. He advanced to Air Force Lt. Colonel while serving during World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star and two citations.