Candidate Forum Held for County Hospital Board

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Messenger teamed up with the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce to hold a candidate forum for the candidates running for the upcoming Houston County Hospital District (HCHD.) The event was held at the Crockett Civic Center Tuesday, April 25. 

The event was kicked off by Chamber Board President Karl Balmer who welcomed the candidates and guests, acknowledging county leaders including most of the current HCHD board. Pastor Keith Smith from Tabernacle of Praise was invited to give an opening prayer and Latexo High School Senior Claire Catoe led the group in the pledge of allegiance. 

This reporter then invited the first round of candidates to come to the stage, namely those running for Position Five, incumbent Roy Langford and challenger Tammi English McCreight. The two were asked the questions in turn, involving their background, questions about taxes and their prudent use by the board and what kind of operator the county needs to run the hospital’s operations. Langford and McCreight have known and worked with each other a long time and the two were friendly but honest about their differences. 

The last question, always designed to allow candidates to sum up their candidacy and plans for the position if elected. Why you? Why now?


“I don’t know,” Langford joked. “Actually, I am just me. I don’t vote just to ‘go along to get along.’ I vote my conscience – what I think is right for the community at the time. Some people get mad at the way we vote. But I will vote what I think is good for the taxpayer. If raising taxes is what has to happen, I want to be transparent and get the word out and let everyone know. I don’t think we are there yet. But if it ever happens in the future – whether I am on the board or not – we need to let the people know why. We need to help them understand the cost and why we have to do that. We can’t just say we will raise taxes and expect people to support that. I know contracts. I know the business-end part of it. I am not perfect but I will do the best I can.”


“I have a lot of knowledge about medicine,” began McCreight. “I can bring to the board a knowledge of hospital functions, costs and the importance of fixing something now versus fixing something later.  I understand Medicaid, Medicare and indigent care. I understand the needs of our community – the economics of our community. I believe I can bring to the board my knowledge to help better spend the tax dollars to keep the hospital’s doors open. From the nursing perspective, I would have asked different questions in the negotiations with EMS. I decided to run now because we have a board that does not work together. You have to remember your focus. Remember what you are there to do. Your main purpose of being on that board is to meet the needs of the community. And do it efficiently.”

The next round saw the candidates for Position One with incumbent Barbara Crowson and challengers Joe “Buddy” Clonts and Kim Spellman. The three each brought their own style to the questions, often injecting humor or personal views on some of the serious issues. Asked what the most important role the HCHD board should fill, the candidates came prepared with detailed answers. 


“I see our most important role as doing everything in our power to keep a viable, critical-access-designated hospital in Crockett, Texas,” began current Board President Barbara Crowson. “To do what we can to have good health care available to all our citizens. I know the demographics of our county and we are a poor county. Our population is older. We are a large county. As we have interviewed prospective operators of the hospital, I have made this all very clear to them. The hospital is a large employer. We have about 100 employees at our hospital. For the economics of our county and city, that hospital is important. The taxes we collect is used to pay for the ambulance service. We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful ambulance company, too.”


“It’s a very important question,” began Kim Spellman. “I believe it is important we work together. A board has to work together. Each board member needs to do their due diligence, check their facts, know the numbers and understand the ‘ins’ and the ‘outs.’ They need to have respect for each other. Quite frankly, I have to say, I am embarrassed how our current board disrespects each other. At the end of the day, the board is an elected group. We are responsible for providing a good place to provide health care for our community. We have to stand up for our people. I have parents here, I have grandparents here, my husband and family are here – my commitment is to bring that unity to this board – that is my intention.”


“A board member is an elected representative of the taxpayers,” said Buddy Clonts. “We should make decisions in the interests of those we represent. Effective oversight of taxpayer money is the most important thing this board has to do. The board has nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of the hospital. Any prudent businessman would want to keep part of that money aside, in the case of an emergency. In case a hospital operator decides to leave – which has happened before. Talking with the public, listening to their views and sharing my views.”

See accompanying article in this newspaper for more information about voting time and places. The Messenger would like to heartily thank all the candidates and their supporters who attended, the many officials who came and of course the public for coming to be more informed. It is our town, our county, our election and our future.  

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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