East Texas, May 25, 2023 – ETCOG is pleased to announce new leadership for its Chief Elected Officials – Rural Transportation Planning Organization (CEO–RTPO) Board. At a recent meeting, the CEO–RTPO Board voted Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur as Chair, re-elected Camp County Judge AJ Mason as Vice Chair, and designated Judge Chad Sims to its Executive Committee.
The CEO–RTPO Board consists of the county judges from each of the 14 counties served by ETCOG, the Mayors of Longview and Tyler, and the three Texas Department of Transportation District Engineers that serve the ETCOG region. The Board serves a dual function of shared oversight of the region’s workforce programs with the Workforce Solutions East Texas Board
and working directly with TXDOT to ensure that transportation priorities are developed and solutions implemented for the region’s rural communities.
“With deep admiration and respect for my colleagues, I express my sincere appreciation for their confidence in calling me to serve as Chairman of the Chief Elected Officials –Rural Transportation Planning Organization Board. I have such esteem for these county judicial and city leaders, who sacrificially serve the needs and interests of our East Texas. Together, as servants of the public’s trust, we will continue to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities for the future of the 14 counties and cities within our region. With rich natural resources, the beauty of our lands, coupled with the values and strong work ethic of our people, East Texas sits in a strategic position to grow economically while maintaining the quality of life we all enjoy. As a son of Gregg County, God called me back to my East Texas roots after my service to our country through the U.S. Navy. Upon returning home to the piney woods, I had a burden in my heart to invest my life in serving my fellow East Texans. As I do that, I ask for the prayers of my colleagues and the people of East Texas,” said Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur.
Judge LaFleur joined the board in 2018 and has served on its Executive Committee since 2021.
“I have worked with Judge LaFleur for many years and am looking forward to what he will bring to ETCOG,” said Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt. “Our counties will only benefit from this next generation of leadership, direction, and integrity as he moves into this new position.”
“I was honored to nominate Judge LaFleur to lead the CEO–RTPO Board,” said Harrison County Judge Chad Sims. “Since he grew up in Gregg County and now lives and works in Marion County, he will be a thoughtful and supportive leader for all the counties represented by the Board. More than ever, we need leaders in East Texas that will work to benefit all areas. Growth together is much more important than a singular focus. Judge LaFleur will make a great chairman for our CEO–RTPO Board.”
Judge AJ Mason joined the board in 2016 and has served as its Vice Chair and on the Executive Committee since 2018. The CEO-RTPO Board Executive Committee is comprised of Chair LaFleur, Vice Chair Mason, Rusk County Judge Joel Hale, Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis, and its newest added member, Judge Chad Sims, who joined the board in 2019.
“Continuing to work with the other members of the CEO-RTPO board presents a great opportunity to serve our region as a whole. Bringing that knowledge and information back to Camp County is beneficial to the citizens I represent. Under Judge LaFleur’s chairmanship, our region will continue to face new challenges in a productive way that will benefit all East Texans,” said Camp County Judge AJ Mason.
“I’m honored to get to serve alongside these other county judges. I hope to make a positive difference not only on the workforce and employment side but also with our TxDOT Engineers to help with transportation. I do want to thank the ETCOG staff who work so diligently, often behind the scenes, for all 14 counties represented,” said Harrison County Judge Chad Sims.
Under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, the CEO Board is responsible for the leadership and board appointments to the local workforce development board. The CEOs partner with the Workforce Solutions East Texas Board to build a premier workforce in the region and are the primary source of local workforce policy.
ETCOG formed its RTPO in 2009 to provide a forum for local elected officials to establish rural transportation project priorities and planning and provide direct input to TxDOT concerning those priorities for areas not included in a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Through the RTPO, all 14 of our counties and those cities that are not served by the Longview or Tyler MPOs can deliver a unified message to state and federal decision-makers concerning transportation needs and priorities.
The Board meets during the April, August, and December months to address the joint business agenda of the CEO–RTPO Board in a blended meeting format. The Executive Committee meets on behalf of the full board when needs emerge between regularly scheduled meeting dates. The full membership of the CEO–RTPO Board can be viewed at www.etcog.org/about#GoverningBoards