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Friday, January 22, 2021

A national stage: Roy Brooks a voice for counties nationwide

Roy C. Brooks is the Tarrant County commissioner from Precinct 1, but his voice is heard far beyond the county’s boundaries.

As he takes over as the president of the National Association of Counties, Brooks’ resume shows him to be a leader in a variety of capacities for more than three decades.

Brooks has represented Precinct 1 on the Commissioners Court since 2005, after serving three terms on the Forest Hill City Council. Precinct 1 stretches from southwest Tarrant County to Arlington.

He was sworn in as NACo’s 2017-18 president during the organization’s annual business meeting on July 17 in Franklin County (Columbus), Ohio.

At the top of his list of priorities is the health and welfare of his fellow citizens. He has worked tirelessly from the local to national level on such issues as health care for the homeless, infant mortality, obesity, access to care, health disparities, criminal justice reform, mental health and AIDS education.

Prior to moving into the president’s role, Brooks was elected second vice president of NACo in July 2015. That same year he received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Texas Wesleyan University.

Brooks has spearheaded many programs in Tarrant County including:

*The Tarrant County Ex-Offender Re-Entry Program (TCRI) to address concerns regarding the successful re-entry and reintegration of ex-inmates returning to Tarrant County;

*Nurse Family Partnership, an evidence-based nurse home visitation program for first-time mothers and their children;

*A Blue Ribbon Task Force on Health Care for the Homeless, promoting well-being and improved quality of life among homeless people in Tarrant County by assuring access to high-quality, comprehensive health care and support services to facilitate transition out of homelessness.

Brooks is the founder of the Generation Hope Laptop Program, a college preparatory program targeting middle school children. Now under the Tarrant County College administration, the program provides students with laptops, STEM-based curriculum and college readiness sessions.

Brooks is married to Jennifer Giddings Brooks, president and CEO of Brooks and Associates Educational Consultants. Their daughter, Royce, is a Harvard-trained attorney who is working as a public policy advocate, and their son, Marion, is a 2010 graduate of the University of Texas Law School who is practicing entertainment law in Los Angeles.

Why is health care such a major topic with you?

My passion for health care comes from witnessing firsthand the impact having access to care has on individuals and families. My father was a physician and I can’t tell you the number of times he would be called in the middle of the night by a mother or wife because they had no resources for hospital care. Providing health care to all of the community and giving back of oneself is a personal choice and a family legacy. As my father regularly said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for the space you occupy.”

What are your thoughts on our current national health care debate?

Politicians in Washington appear to be more concerned about scoring political points than solving the issues. We need our representatives to put the citizens of our country first, before their party. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they were able to drop party loyalty and work to fix the issues, regardless of who came up with the solution?

I could have told you, as a 10-year-old boy watching my father leave at midnight to care for someone in crisis, that a proposed health care system that will leave millions without health insurance is not only unacceptable, it’s inhumane.

What are your thoughts on taking over as president and what are your goals as you move forward?

I bring to NACo experience that is both deep and wide and puts me in a unique position to lead this great organization at this critical time in its development. I am determined to raise the profile of counties as key policy makers and reliable partners with other governmental entities in keeping America great and strong.

The presidency will enhance my ability to continue to fight against poverty, advocate on national policy, exchange ideas and build new skills, enhance the public’s understanding of county government and discover county solutions for our communities.

What made you decide to enter politics?

A sense of civic duty and a belief that I not only can, but have the duty to, make a positive difference for our community.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in office thus far?

Raising the level of concern among policy makers for human infrastructure to the same level of importance for capital infrastructure.

What do you see as the major challenges facing Tarrant County today?

Transportation, JPS bond election [which has not yet been scheduled]. The three most critical challenges facing Tarrant County are growth, growth and growth. The exponential growth of Tarrant County either has, or will very quickly, overload the capacity of our roads, bridges, mental health services, justice system, health care and child protection infrastructures. It is critical that we prioritize strategic investments in both human resources and capital improvements to meet the current needs of our citizens and properly plans for the future.

What do you think is the greatest benefit of living and working in Tarrant County?

A growing economy, the spirit of partnership, a sense of community felt by all.

Where would you like to see the county in five years? 10 years? and how can you help it get there?

My vision for five years and 10 years from now is that the citizens of our county are benefiting from the wise investments in infrastructure and human resources we have made, and that every year is better for our citizens than the last.

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