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Ingalsbe faces two challengers in Hays Pct. 1 race

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 by Jacob Cottingham

Stretching from the southern tip of the county along the I-35 corridor, and bordering Buda, the smallest and most dense precinct has been represented by Democrat Debbie Ingalsbe for the last 12 years. The first woman to sit on the court and the only current Hispanic, Ingalsbe has had a fairly resilient and restrained political career. While other commissioners at times endlessly debate every nuance or engage in higher profile political debate, Ingalsbe works her fundamentals. Still, this hasn’t stopped two challengers from stepping up to the daughter of a former Hays County Commissioner. Though the campaigns of Republican Nick Ramus and write-in Bill Wyatt are long shots, it has provided perhaps the most entertaining race in Hays County.


Ingalsbe’s lean political apparatus includes her husband Garry, and lots of door-to-door canvassing. The incumbent has not had a fundraiser this season. She has only taken in $1,450 and spent $1,341. Before her time on the Court, Ingalsbe was a deputy constable for three years during which she says she was able to learn about county government and law enforcement as well as providing her “a general sense of the people she was representing.” She cites her support for the parks bond, which has been a popular endeavor for all the sitting commissioners as one of her many accomplishments.


Ingalsbe told In Fact Daily, “Economic development and job growth are very important to me, and I was at the forefront of recruiting Seton Hospital to Kyle that will also provide nearly 900,000 square-feet of retail space creating over 4,600 new jobs.”


She says job retention is equally important and claims the companies HadCo, Wide-Lite and CFAN all stayed in the county due in part to her efforts to provide incentives.


Saying, “at times I really think that women just pay attention to more details” she takes credit for implementing roadside safety measures such as signs, striping and guardrails on county roads, and is a big proponent of hot mix construction as opposed to chipped, saying “they provide for longer lasting roadways.” Ingalsbe notes that tax rates have fallen in the county despite a rise in home valuations. She says the $207 million road bond is important even though she “knows that right now people are really concerned because of the economic times. It’s a lot of money and the entire court has struggled hard to find that amount that wouldn’t see so much of a dramatic tax increase.” With the average homeowner having to pay around $3 per month extra, Ingalsbe says the opportunity to gain crucial TxDOT involvement is worth the price.


Bill Wyatt has managed to raise $1,500 for his shot at the office and says he is running for commissioner “to give the voters of Precinct One a new representative for their taxes. To enforce all the laws and try to be physically responsible for all the money, rules, regulations, all that stuff.”


Wyatt has a criminal justice law-enforcement degree and worked for the Texas Education Foundation for almost 30 years.  He said his job was similar to the duties of a commissioner, “all doing the right thing with money, approvals, that type of thing.” The sixth generation San Marcos resident doesn’t speak badly about his opponent.  “The current commissioner, she does a good job, I don’t have anything against her but some of the major roads, they’re just terrible. And I understand there was money several years back to fix those and they took the money and used it somewhere out in the county.”


Although he says he has not “really decided yet” on what he thinks of the road bond he did tell In Fact Daily, “I’d have it completely reworked and more emphasis on mobility and safety instead of the special interest roads.” Wyatt was candid enough about his lack of knowledge concerning the new Hays County subdivision rules as well. “To tell you the truth I don’t know that much about them, but if I get the opportunity though, I’ll definitely do my homework and know what the best answer would be to help the average guy.” When asked about potential funding for the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District he admits, “I need to do more homework on that too,” though he indicates “I have a hard time going back and making them pay that fee.”


He makes a sincere plea to be the one looking out for the poor and the “little guy,” and is proud of his efforts to put in some small recreational areas in lower income parts of San Marcos. Wyatt maintains that, “I don’t have anything at all against the lady (Ingalsbe), obviously she’s been doing something right or she wouldn’t have been there for 12 years. I know her family and she grew up in San Marcos just like I did.”


Nick Ramus, whose election form lists the nickname “Mr. Nicholas” has not filed any financial statements and is his own acting Treasurer. In a conversation with In Fact Daily, Ramus rarely strayed off his theme of a larger Hays County conspiracy against his own ambitions for a restaurant as well as a very public lawsuit he won against the county for a septic tank to be placed on his lot.


Ramus has a long string of local residents and politicians who have wronged him – and Ingalsbe finds herself amongst those. Ramus is running on the Republican ticket but the Hays County Republican website has no information about the candidate. Ramus merely has his name repeated. When called, the Republican Party of Hays said they did not even have information on how to contact the candidate. Ramus also lacks an official campaign website though he says this is due to a complex conspiracy waged against him by a political foe and arch-nemesis Charles O’Dell.


A computer search on Ramus also pops up the information that Ramus was recently arrested for “deadly conduct.” He allegedly threatened his neighbor with a loaded shotgun over an argument about bulldozing. Like most information surrounding Ramus, nearly every detail of this incident is disputed by one of the parties. The professional chef says of his leadership style, “I do a lot of listening and I also have good judgment.”


Ingalsbe had little to say about her opponent telling In Fact Daily, “I haven’t heard much from my opponent and the only time I did hear from him was months ago during the primary and as far as I can tell… it’s basically a one-issue race with him.” Ingalsbe respects the voters’ intelligence saying, “I just hope that people pay attention to the facts and read up on the candidates and give us a call.”

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