Rickhoff Blasts Bexar County’s Spending Under Judge Wolff

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Bexar County Judge Tom Rickhoff.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Bexar County Probate Judge Tom Rickhoff, speaking at a press conference Monday, is opposing incumbent Nelson Wolff in the race for Bexar County Judge.

Bexar County Probate Judge Tom Rickhoff, who is waging a long-shot campaign to oust County Judge Nelson Wolff, held what he called an “emergency” press conference Monday to criticize his opponent for spending County funds on “frivolous” projects such as the San Pedro Creek while neglecting essential services.

Rickhoff, a Republican, is running against Wolff for a seat the Democrat has held since 2001. Rickhoff told reporters that while he doesn’t expect to defeat the four-term incumbent, he wants his campaign to shed light on the county commissioners court’s current fiscal policies that are “unsound and not sustainable.”

“Our taxpayer money is being used for frivolous and self-aggrandizing projects,” Rickhoff said. “Meanwhile, Wolff is neglecting and refusing to fund basic county functions.”

Rickhoff, who is serving as manager, treasurer, strategist, and developer of his campaign, came armed with a 42-page document outlining why he believes Wolff should not be re-elected.

In short, Rickhoff argues that basics such as roads, law enforcement, and health services for Bexar County residents have been shortchanged under Wolff’s tenure, with Wolff instead favoring cultural projects such as restoring the San Pedro Creek and the Alameda Theater downtown, and funding the San Antonio Symphony.

“It’s a million-dollar waste while the infirm, the disabled, the wards, and the people we are trying to establish guardianship for do not have [the services they need],” Rickhoff said.

He referred specifically to the controversial $735,000 Plethora sculpture commissioned by Bexar County for the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project. “They are spending a million dollars on this [project] when there is no authorization for the County to do such a thing,” he said.

TJ Mayes, Wolff’s chief of staff, told the Rivard Report that while the County is involved in many revitalization projects throughout the city, the funding is “voter-approved.”

“Bexar County taxpayers resoundingly spoke in 2008 when they supported the venue tax option, which passed with 65 percent of the vote,” and included in it $6 million in funding for the Alameda Theater renovation, Mayes said. “City of San Antonio residents then approved the bond in 2017 overwhelmingly, which included about $19 million for San Pedro Creek.”

Rocío Guenther / Rivard Report

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff explains construction plans for the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project.

Rickhoff, however, stated that Bexar County voters don’t realize that “our county is $3.7 billion in debt and rising fast,” and that if they did they would likely be voting differently. “Five more years on this course will leave our county bankrupt,” he said.

He alleges there’s a “pay to play” system at the County, pointing to campaign contributions made by individuals and family members that won significant contracts.

Rickhoff also criticized Wolff and the four county commissioners for emphasizing funding for projects inside San Antonio’s urban core to the detriment of residents living in unincorporated areas of the county.

Christian Archer, campaign manager for Wolff’s re-election bid, said Rickhoff’s comments about funding priorities stem from a place of “zero vision” when it comes to “improving quality of life and building a first-class American city.”

“Imagine if hundreds of years ago, [someone said]: ‘That’s a terrible idea – why would you want to turn that ditch into a beautiful River Walk? Just think, we could spend more money on the jail,’” Archer said.

“We can have a drainage ditch, or we can have a beautiful hike and bike [trail] that everyone in Bexar County can be proud of.”

Rickhoff, who is quick to note that he supports both the arts and renovations throughout the city, said that to him it comes down to both priorities and funding oversight. He believes Wolff’s vision includes “art, opera, symphony, and statues,” while “county mental health program suffer most.

“Apparently, these matters are too far from Judge Nelson Wolff’s priorities,” he said.

9 thoughts on “Rickhoff Blasts Bexar County’s Spending Under Judge Wolff

  1. It would be interested to see if there is a pay to play system in place. I don’t trust the Express News when it comes to investigating Democrat politicians. The Rivard Report appears to be much less partisan.

  2. Sounds like a very very good opportunity for a Rivard reporter to step up and not only inform us, but put Rivard on a much bigger map. Do it!

  3. Judge Rickoff has a right to his opinions but I would note that it appears he is at best disingenuous with statements like these, “He believes Wolff’s vision includes “art, opera, symphony, and statues,” while “county mental health program suffer most”

    A short federal history of the federal response to mental illness in America:

    The current congress and POTUS response to mental health:

    A good article on State spending on mental health issues:

    Spending on the urban core vs unincorporated areas of the city? Really? San Pedro Creek will not only be a good investment in our future both economically but also secures the stream, its’ history, and the enjoyment for future generations to come. The River walk in San Antonio is world renowned, obviously many towns are built on River too, and our river walk has been a shining example of what is possible when done right for any city. The San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek have always been huge influences in our city, our heritage and our people. As San Antonio, the state, the federal government, and private business have invested in the urban cores of Houston, Ft Worth, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio (as well as many others), the urban sprawl continues. Clearly the investment has not slowed growth in the county, let’s keep San Antonio growing from in to out.

    Services to those in rural communities outside the city is important, but that requires investment and a commitment to that sort of policy, again something that the GOP in this state has opposed:

    Judge Wolff has been invested in the city and county for over 30 years, and although I don’t agree with all of his decisions, he clearly has thought about our city, our people in our community.

  4. Not all of Wolff’s pushes to spend money have been good. Buying Toyota Stadium was one of the worst–a huge mistake since we already knew that MLS was pushing ONLY downtown stadiums for potential new expansion cities. But investment in San Pedro Creek is one of the best investments. It will assure that the western side of downtown is revitalized. Just wait. It is going to become the riverwalk for locals (city and county) now that our more famous River Walk is so crowded with tourists and chain restaurants. And although there won’t be restaurants lining San Pedro Creek, they will start overlooking it in time–locally-owned restaurants that the local public will appreciate.

  5. Seems from his statements that Rickoff represents the voters on the losing side of the bond and tax votes. He basically is saying that the bond and tax were approved because the voters didnt know anything. Seeing that he is GOP, he is obviously used to voters not paying attention and/or not understanding the greater good, then voting against their best interests because they are afraid of change or think someone else os taking thongs from them.

      • Nelson Wolff has been part of the corruption problem as was stated for 30 years.
        You can eat your cake and have it too..
        Keep voting along party lines though, that always works.
        It’s a shame the local press will never look into this.
        Tom Rickhoff may be GOP but he has always put the people first.

  6. Someone should ask Rickoff if he intends to work full-time if elected, or will he decide that he doesn’t want to do a significant part of his job. Referring to his refusal to handle the mental health docket shortly after his last election forcing additional expenses and work on the other probate court judge.

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