It’s worth noting newly sworn Galveston County Treasurer Hank Dugie last week kept a campaign promise.
Dugie, who was sworn in Sunday, said he wouldn’t take the $117,260 annual salary the position normally pays.
The former League City councilman ran in the GOP primary on a platform of eliminating the treasurer’s office.
He won that March primary race, ousting incumbent Kevin Walsh. With no Democrat challenger in the November general election, Dugie became the county treasurer Jan. 1.
“I ran on the ideals of eliminating waste and advocating for smaller government,” Dugie wrote in an affidavit signed Tuesday.
“Therefore, I intend to keep my word to the voters by hereby voluntarily electing to forego my elected official salary for the performance of my duties as Galveston County Treasurer.”
State law requires elected officials who campaigned on the idea of abolishing the office they sought to file an affidavit affirming that intention, explaining how they would go about it and stating whether they would draw the salary.
A person wouldn’t have to be especially skeptical, much less cynical, to wonder whether a politician running that particular campaign was sincere or just working an angle likely to play with primary voters.
That state law exists because so many had campaigned on eliminating an office and then didn’t after they had won it.
Dugie filed the required affidavit Tuesday swearing to pursue an end to the treasurer’s office. Foregoing the salary wasn’t a requirement.
It was clearly meant as a statement of sincere intent.
In his campaign against Walsh, Dugie picked up a flag already carried by County Judge Mark Henry and other commissioners — that the treasurer’s office should be abolished and its functions rolled into other county offices or outsourced.
Abolishing the office is complicated. To do so, the county must first convince state lawmakers to put the issue on a referendum ballot and Texas voters must approve it.
Walsh opposed the proposal and the county’s effort for legislative action failed in 2021.
Dugie said he intends to work alongside commissioners on the plan during next year’s legislative session.
“In keeping with my campaign promise to voters, I ran to eliminate this office and to stop government waste,” he said.
“Although I still have Constitutional duties to perform, I’ve elected not to receive a salary and will be active in Austin during the upcoming legislative session to put abolition of the office to a vote of the people,” he said.
If such a bill passed the legislature and voters approved it, the change could take effect in January 2024.
County officials have a long way to go to get even a hearing on the idea of abolishing the office, much less the two-thirds votes of the House and Senate needed to get it on a statewide ballot.
And there’s the core question about whether abolishing the office is the right thing for the public and its money, which the treasurer is elected and sworn to protect.
Still, Dugie did what he said he’d do.
It’s unfortunate perhaps that a politician following through on a campaign promise is noteworthy, but it is, and Dugie deserves credit for having done so.
• Michael A. Smith