As Tarrant County leaders, Commissioners J.D. Johnson and Andy H. Nguyen are generations apart.
Johnson, 76, a northwest Tarrant County Republican, is in his seventh term. When he was elected in 1986, he succeeded a rural commissioner who led a fiddle band.
Nguyen, 48, an Arlington Republican, is completing his first term. He was a teenager in 1981 when his family escaped Vietnam.
They represent far-flung corners of the county with contrasting needs from county government.
More than any other county or city public official, Johnson represents voters still rooted in many ways in Fort Worth’s ranching and cattle-trading past.
He represents the Stockyards and ranches in northwest Tarrant County and takes pride that county workers have helped work on improvements at the Will Rogers Memorial Center rodeo and Stock Show grounds.
His voters still look to the commissioner for help with roads and street plans in the growing Eagle Mountain-Saginaw area.
Nguyen’s mostly developed Arlington/Mansfield-area district relies heavily on public schools and has looked to Nguyen for help fighting truancy.
Nguyen has helped bridge communication between cities and school districts, distributing a regular newsletter for southeast Tarrant County and energetically promoting the Texas 360 transportation project.
Nguyen’s biggest opponent may be his own political ambition.
Nguyen has chosen to align himself with Tea Party candidates who oppose any public role in bringing the proposed Texas high-speed rail line to Arlington and other needed public education and transportation funding and projects.
But Democratic challengers Steve Lerma of Fort Worth (against Johnson) and Kenneth Sanders of Arlington (against Nguyen) imagine county commissioners taking on new roles such as a county mass transit system or a county preventative healthcare initiative for low-income residents.
The challengers don’t make the case that either incumbent is doing a bad job. They only suggest new jobs.
The Star-Telegam Editorial Board recommends re-electing J.D. Johnson as Tarrant County Commissioner, Precinct 4, and Andy H. Nguyen as Tarrant County Commissioner, Precinct 2.