By Gene Terry, TAC Executive Director
For those of you who don’t remember Bob Hope, he was a famous comedian who made movies with Bing Crosby, entertained the troops in USO tours and was a beloved icon for several generations of Americans. He was very funny without being profane. He couldn’t sing but loved trying. He wasn’t leading man handsome, but loved trying. He was truly an entertainer.
His career spanned at least 50 years. Whenever he was introduced or walked onto a stage during the last 25 years of his public life, one song played: “Thanks for the Memories.” It was his song. I don’t think I have heard it since he died.
For the past 24, years you have allowed me to join you in the world of county government. Thanks for the memories. Thank you for the friendship, the support and the criticism when it was needed. Thank you for the wise counsel, and for just being who you are. Your commitment to service is an inspiration. Please continue, because you are truly what is right about our country. You are the solution to the problem.
The theme of our annual conference this year was “Restore What’s Right.” I gave a speech on it the last day of the conference. When I was writing the speech, I realized that not much is wrong with counties. You govern well because you know how to do it right. You are so close to the people you serve you could not get away with doing it wrong, even if you tried. It’s time for your way to trickle up. Think of it this way, you know personally a larger percentage of the voters who voted for and against you in the last election than does any state representative or senator and certainly than does any member of Congress. You know them by first name and they know you. They chose you because they know you by first name, too. That is something special.
As I write this in late October, I observe our beloved county struggling with issues that history shows we should have expected. The things that currently divide us are not fatal. We can restore what is right. But first, we must build trust and respect. That is the same relationship you have with your constituents. You know how to do it. It is essential to good county government. You need to share the secret with anyone who will listen.
Neither you nor I have any control over others, but we can decide who we want to be. It takes at least two people to have a fight. If you react rationally to an angry person, only two things can happen. He or she will cease being angry or will move on to find someone who will engage with them. Let’s choose to be the rational voice in the world. You are dedicated, kind, polite and humble. You are what is right. You are the perfect force to restore this country to its proper place. You can do it one voice at a time.
The Legislature will convene in a few weeks. It will convene without Speaker Straus. Many times over the last decade, he was the adult in the room. Now there is a void and someone will step up to fill it. That someone should be you. Show others how to govern. Show others how to find solutions by collaborating. Show others that there is a place for wisdom and compassion in government. Show others how you do it. It is what’s right.
I will miss seeing you in courthouses and at conferences. I will miss the phone calls. I will miss just knowing you are there. I trust you, and I respect you. I am truly blessed to have been a part of all this for the last quarter of a century. May the Lord bless and keep you. May He make his face to shine upon you, and give you peace.
Terry’s Final Message to TAC Members
You can also watch “Restore What’s Right,” the final speech Terry gave to TAC members during the annual Legislative Conference on our YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/TexasCounties.