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Commissioners Uncomfortable with ‘Politics’ Over Boat Registration

Republican candidate Kristen Hoyt, who co-owns Corner Tubes in New Braunfels and doesn't own a boat, said she supported state boat registration at the county level long before opponent Patrick Aten did. Aten said he has supported boat registration since October 2019.

Comal County commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved state boat registration but warned incumbent Tax Assessor-Collector Cathy Talcott they were uncomfortable voting on a measure that is politically sensitive heading into the March 3 primary election.

State boat registration is supported by both Republican Kristen Hoyt, who is running for Talcott’s job against challenger Patrick Aten, and by Aten, who is endorsed by Talcott.

However, Talcott said it all boiled down to a matter of timing since it was only last fall that her office was able to hire two new employees and train enough staff to use Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s system.

She offered to withdraw the motion and allow her successor to proceed with the implementation of the new system, which does not yet include title transfers.

“I’m glad you acknowledge the political aspect of this because for me it is an elephant in the room, and it makes me very uncomfortable,” said Pct. 3 Commissioner Kevin Webb. “…it’s something the county should have been doing for a while. The timing of it is very difficult because this was brought up by a candidate in a race, and so bringing it up and putting it before us now makes for a very uncomfortable discussion.”

Canyon Lake Pct. 1 Commissioner Donna Eccleston said that although Talcott’s timing was “not so good” but “the desire on the part of citizens is longstanding.”

Hoyt Responds to the Decision

Hoyt, who co-owns Corner Tubes in New Braunfels and doesn’t own a boat, said state boat registration wasn’t even on Aten’s radar screen until late January.

In a statement, she said: “Offering boat registrations has been an important part of my platform from the time I announced in October of 2019. It was on my website, my Facebook campaign page, my door hangers, and an important part of my speech. I had been on the phone with Texas Parks and Wildlife multiple times over this period of time, learning how to implement the service and any costs incurred by the county to offer it.

“It was not until late January that my opponent first supported the idea publicly, so it’s interesting to see him finally embrace that position.

“In the end, I was able to bring attention to this important issue. The passing of boat registration at Thursday’s Commissioners Court is a win for our county and a win for my campaign.

“I have the experience and judgment to lead this office and what my campaign has been able to accomplish with boat registrations is a perfect example of how my experience can benefit the people of Comal County.”

To learn more about Hoyt, click here.

Aten Says It Has “Nothing to Do” with the election

In an interview, Aten said Hoyt’s statement is inaccurate because he has been discussing state boat registration since October of 2019.

“But, in finding out more about it, I realized it was going to be implemented soon. The tax office has been working to implement this program for many years. The only credit for this program being launched goes to the staff of the tax office.

“This is is a very good success for the tax office staff because they are the ones who put effort into this program. The timing of this has nothing to do with an election, but only because the tax office only recently received the resources and training necessary to implement this program. Neither candidate should try to take credit away from the tax office staff.”

He explained that TPWD only conducts training for state boat registration in November and February. The tax office started its hiring process for two new employees in the fall after the 2020 budget was passed and the fiscal year began.

“As soon as training was completed this month, the item went before Commissioners Court for approval,” he said.

“My ability to communicate effectively and maintain a working relationship with the Tax Office has allowed me to stay informed about this new program and is why my experience matters for this important office. Although I have been talking about boat registrations since October, I know the tax office has been working to implement this for more than a decade.  As a leader, I know that credit for boat registrations should only go to the hard-working staff of the tax office that is dedicated to bringing this service successfully to the citizens of Comal County.”

To learn more about Aten, click here.

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