Questions raised as CAMPO reappoints Conley as policy board chairperson

Area leaders Monday reappointed former Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley to chair the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (CAMPO) Policy Board, this despite questions on the legality of the move.

The decision, made by a 15-1 vote with one abstention, would allow Conley to serve as chairperson of the board for an additional two year period, but require that he also serve as an affiliate non-voting member of the board.

Cynthia Long, chairperson of the CAMPO nominating committee, said the committee was in “unanimous agreement” on Dec. 8 in reappointing Conley to the chair position. Conley has been serving as the CAMPO Policy Board chair since 2012.

CAMPO’s Policy Board is a 20-person board that guides and directs how funding for transportation projects is dispersed across a six county region that includes Hays County.

However, concerns were raised over whether Conley was able to serve in the role.

In October, Conley stepped down as Hays County Pct. 3 commissioner in order to run for County Judge. According to bylaws for metropolitan planning organizations, members of a policy board should be local elected officials, officials who operate major modes of transportation or state officials.

However, Long said Hays County Commissioners appointed Conley to continue to serve as its representative on the CAMPO board. Hays County’s legal counsel opined Conley was eligible to serve as its representative.

Conley said he added the provision to serve as a non-voting member based on legal concerns addressed by Travis County officials.

“We’ve always traditionally had a policy and position where, when things are in doubt or in question, we usually concede to local jurisdictions,” Conley said. Conley added that he remains as the voting member on the CAMPO board for Hays County.

Kelly Davis, a legal representative with the Save Our Springs (SOS) Alliance, said during public comment she believed Conley should step down as chairperson as he was “no longer eligible.”

She cited Conley stepping down from his commissioner’s seat, which led her to believe Conley shouldn’t have led the last three CAMPO policy board meetings.

“This is important because the chair wields significant authority,” Davis said. “Even if he doesn’t have a vote, he directs the agenda and appoints the members of the executive committee.”

A member of CAMPO’s legal team, however, said for federal law purposes, Conley is “still a local elected official.”

“He was elected and was serving on the board at the time of his appointment,” the representative said. The representative added Conley was not unelected by federal purposes and that the state’s holdover provisions remained.

Resident David King said he appreciated Conley’s service and felt he could provide expertise as a non-voting member of the board without serving as chair.

“I don’t think it promotes good democratic principles,” King said. “Making special exceptions like this, there needs to be good reasons to why we do this.”

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