Election 2018

Ryan Williams is vying to unseat longtime commissioner Hugh Coleman for the Denton County Commissioner Precinct 1 seat in one of the more hotly contested Republican primary races.

Williams, 45, is retired after selling his medical equipment company in 2017 but continues to work as a reserve police officer. He has gained endorsements from county conservatives and the Denton County Young Republicans.

However, others take issue with the fact that until 2020, Williams had not voted since 2000, and never in a Republican primary.

“I obviously have voted in the election this year, but I have no excuse for not voting — unfortunately I was a very busy man running a business, very involved with my family and sports,” Williams said. “I ask for people to look at what I’m doing now.”

Additionally, Williams was involved in a civil lawsuit that began in 2013 after a dispute between Williams and officials with the Trophy Club Roanoke Baseball Association. The suit stemmed from a dispute between Williams and a teenage referee and Williams’ son not being named to a team after allegedly being told incorrect information. The case played out for multiple years, ending with upholding a 2015 judgment dismissing the suit.

Ultimately, the suit meant changes in the bylaws and helped multiple families who had issues with the organization, Williams said.

“It was an unfortunate dispute that I personally was slandered and attacked, my son was being unfairly treated and fortunately, I had the means and ability to hold the people accountable,” Williams said. “What we wanted was those individuals to be relieved from their positions and change the bylaws, then follow them accordingly.”

The winner of the primary will face Democrat Sandy Swan in the general election this November.

The primary election is March 3, with early voting continuing until Feb. 28. For more information about the primary, visit votedenton.com.

The following interviews, in alphabetical order, have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Name: Hugh Coleman

hugh coleman.jpg

Hugh Coleman

Age: 52

Born in: El Paso

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Trinity University, 1991; Doctor of Jurisprudence, University of Tulsa College of Law, 1994.

Experience: Assistant county attorney in El Paso, Denton County assistant district attorney serving as counsel to the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, municipal prosecutor for the city of Sanger, private practice attorney, Denton County commissioner.

U.S Highway 380 is a constant headache for constituents in Precinct 1. What would this thoroughfare ideally look like in 10 years, and what role should the county play in that vision?

Ultimately, I’d like to get a restricted access freeway after the retail develops along the coordinator. Currently, we’ve now got the project fully funded for more than $150 million for a six-lane divided highway with five overpasses. That was a compromise and an agreement between all of the cities, counties and the Texas Department of Transportation along the corridor. We want the retail around the corridor to develop to bring sales tax to those municipalities.

Precinct 1 is the fastest growing precinct, with a mix of highly urban centers as well as rural areas. How do you represent both?

You need to be extremely accessible to your constituents and I work really hard at that. You need to have the knowledge to be able to tell your constituents exactly what you can provide them. Counties are limited authorities; we can only work on unincorporated municipalities and roads, and we’ve tried really hard to work with the cities in the precinct on projects.

On the other hand, you need to be able to use land-use planning with people in unincorporated areas and explain rights of way. In the county, there’s very little regulation and even if they feel they need additional regulation or authorizations, you need to know the rules and laws of a municipality and the county to accurately communicate with constituents.

Why do you think you’re the better candidate?

I’m the best person for the Republican nomination because I’ve actually voted in the Republican primaries. As a former city attorney, I have the education and knowledge to represent my constituents in a manner that will bring them the best results. I’ve also been an assistant district attorney, and having both knowledge bases allows me to be an advocate for cities and counties. Because we’re in a precinct that needs both, that’s necessary to represent this fast growing precinct.

Name: Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams.jpg

Ryan Williams

Age: 45

Born in: Fort Worth

Employment: medical equipment company in 2017, reserve police officer in Denton County for 18 years

Education: Northwest High School and attended Texas Tech University and Tarleton State University

U.S. Highway 380 is a constant headache for constituents in Precinct 1. What would this thoroughfare ideally look like in 10 years, and what role should the county play in that vision?

Ideally it would look like a six-lane highway with access roads. It would allow traffic in the middle six lanes to flow freely and would allow easy access on and off the main freeway, which would be a lot safer. From what I understand, they’ve agreed to do the six lanes with overpasses and it’s been approved by the county and TxDOT and supposedly start in 2021, so there’s no changing of that at this point in time — that’s what’s been approved. I would say the problem is we should have been working on this over 10 years ago.

Precinct 1 is the fastest growing precinct, with a mix of highly urban centers as well as rural areas. How do you represent both?

Fortunately, I’ve lived in both. I’ve lived in the cities and now I live in unincorporated rural. I understand what’s necessary for both to make sure both are represented properly.

Why do you think you’re the better candidate?

Not being a politician, multiple years of successful business experience, 18 years non-paid law enforcement and running as your full time county commissioner — not having any other job responsibilities other than being your full-time county commissioner. As far as the business aspect, the county is exactly that — it’s a business and I have over 20 years of successful business experience from executing national contracts to zero base budgeting.

In the private sector you either make it or you don’t. The county has what’s called a tax base and that doesn’t disappear. They always have revenue. Private businesses have to earn revenue and keep their customer base happy.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @jennafduncan.

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