Fellow citizens of Orange County, I am Stephen “Brint” Carlton, and I want to continue working for you as your county judge.  My first term is flying by and I want to continue the incredible progress we have made so far in turning our county around.  As your first Republican Orange County Judge in well over a hundred years, I know that the principles of fiscal conservatism are helping to make a positive difference in our county.  Those positive differences include the first tax rate reduction since 2011, reducing future expenditures and unfunded liabilities, refocusing on economic development, employees receiving their largest raise since 2005, and millions of dollars spent on new equipment, vehicles, building upgrades, and information technology infrastructure to improve county services.  We have made all of these improvements despite the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the disastrous $3.2 million judgment we had to pay for the 2011 Montano jail death case, and the lawsuit between the county and the Sheriff’s Union from 2013.

I am not a typical politician.  I do not seek to make the most popular decisions, but the right decisions for the taxpayers as a whole.  I do not make promises to special interest groups, but promise the taxpayers I will look after their collective interest.  I do not worry about securing my own re-election, but worry about securing a better future for all of Orange County.  I do not “kick the can down the road”, but research issues, take input from others, understand the possibilities, take action, and solve problems.

I have been asked about my leadership style.  Honestly, I have different styles for different situations.  I am a different leader in the Air Force than I am as county judge.  During my first term as county judge, I have been an achievement-oriented leader because Orange County needed to make meaningful changes quickly.  We were in the midst of a financial disaster when I took office.  Orange County is located on the coast, placing us in danger of devastating natural disasters.  Time was of the essence to make necessary changes.  Hurricane Harvey proved that point to be true and we turned things around just in time.  Without those necessary changes to build our savings from $392,000 to $12 million (in less than 3 years), Orange County would be looking at incurring debt and increasing tax rates to rebuild and pay routine county expenses.

A county judge is a complicated and critical role in county government.  The position is responsible for presiding over the five-member Commissioners’ Court, setting county tax rates, developing the county budget, promoting economic development, overseeing emergency management services, and presiding over the Constitutional County Court docket.  A county judge must understand and take seriously the relationship between local, state, and federal government and the private sector, and understand the law.

You deserve a county judge who understands the role of a county judge.  You deserve somebody who has an articulated vision.  You deserve somebody who will hold themselves and others accountable.  You deserve somebody who places the wellbeing of the taxpayers and citizens above all others.  You deserve somebody who is committed to fiscal responsibility and lower tax rates.  You deserve somebody who is true to you and themselves as a lifelong, conservative Republican and not a Johnny-come-lately Republican in name only.  You deserve somebody who recognizes that more government is often not the solution, but the problem.  You deserve somebody who is part of a solution and not part of that problem.

I have been each of those things throughout my first term and I pledge to remain so.  Orange County is where I grew up and a great place to live.  I want to continue our progress for the betterment of your family and mine.  My family is made up of my wife, two children, parents, sister, nephews, and numerous others who live here in Orange County.

I am uniquely qualified to continue serving as your county judge.  I am a former prosecutor, a current Major in the U.S. Air Force Reserve assigned to the Pentagon with a Top Secret security clearance (The Department of Defense and the Department of the Air Force do not endorse political candidates), and an experienced county judge.  I grew up in Orange, graduated from LC-M High School, and hold juris doctor (law), master of business administration, and master of health administration degrees.  Additionally, I have served over 12 years as an Air Force officer.  I have the right combination of leadership, experience, education, people skills, determination, and vision to provide solutions to improve our great county.  I am excited to keep our county moving on the path of financial stability.

I have fulfilled my original goal of financial stability through responsible budgets, economic growth, and fresh ideas.  I vow to continue looking at every county program fairly and objectively, and I will continue putting the taxpayers’ interests first.  I am also committed to helping our county rebuild after the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey.  I know this will not be easy or quick, and I cannot do it on my own.  This endeavor will require all of us to work together and put our differences aside.

I humbly ask for your vote and support in keeping the taxpayers’ interests the top priority. I sincerely thank you for your time and attention.  May God bless you, your family, and Orange County.