HOUSTON – Fort Bend County Judge KP George sat down with KPRC 2 following the publishing of his open letter to Walt Disney inviting the industry giant to open a resort in the county. The letter comes amid Disney’s ongoing flap with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Watch highlights from George’s answers in the video above. Editor’s Note: These interview questions and answers have been edited for conciseness and clarity.
1. What’s your response to this KPRC 2 commenter Cardozo DD who said, “More political pandering, complete nonsense, blah, blah, blah”?
If I had to pay attention to all the responses to people write you know I wouldn’t be able to do my job. And you know, I’m sorry that they feel the way they feel. You know when I wrote the letter in 2019, February 14, to Amazon, people said the same thing. We have two fulfillment centers there, one is also in Fort Bend County right now and so, if they feel that way, you know, God bless them. Thank God we live in the United States. They could express their opinion. You know, I have nothing else to talk to that person about their comment. And also, I want to be respectful to people but you know, they’re simply commenting to my story.
2. So this isn’t a stunt. This is in earnest, is that what you’re telling me?
As the chief executive in Fort Bend County, my job is to make sure every opportunity come our way and we take advantage of it and we reach out to these companies and you know and request their attention to our region, our county and I don’t know there is anything wrong or there is anything bad about it. And I believe in my county. And we are back to green threat level when it comes to managing COVID. We are No. 1 and No. 2 most of the time when it comes to managing COVID. We are back to normal almost. And we have numerous new companies started coming to our county. And you know, my job is to seek or reach out to these organizations and let them know our county is open for business and we have numerous advantages, highly skilled and educated workforce. We have phenomenal schools with the high graduation rates. …
3. Where would you put this in Fort Bend County?
I tell you this, Fort Bend County’s two-thirds of its population live in one-third of the land somewhat. We have large, large tracts of land available in the south side of the county, and as and when there is a conversation about a thing like this happening, and we will find that location somewhere. I don’t have a specific location just to specifically show with you because that conversation has to happen. And like I said, anything on the south side of the Brazos River, we have large, large tracts available in Fort Bend County.
4. Are you courting any other big business in Fort Bend County?
We actually sent out to Twitter also and so we will – Like I said, every opportunity I always believe in – every opportunity come our way we will reach out to these organizations and we have numerous advantages. We continue to do that … and in some cases we succeed, some cases we don’t succeed. And that’s how we do work. And you know, Texas is a large, large state with a lot of absolute large tracts of land and we sent a letter to Tesla, but they decided to go to Austin and that’s still there in Texas and so I don’t know is there anything wrong in what we are doing. And I don’t see anything wrong with it.
5. You are entering a political sphere here. Is that what you were trying to address with your letter?
No. Absolutely not. I see there is an opportunity and I am definitely looking at an opportunity to bring more economic development and more possible jobs and more opportunity to Texas. Texas is and also Fort Bend County. I have no comment about what the governor is doing in Tallahassee or what’s happening in Washington. This is not a response to what is going on there. I don’t control what is going on there.
6. With all due respect, in your email, in your letter, it said, “While you, your company, employees, and diverse fans face authoritarian, anti-business, and culture war attacks from extremists in Florida, we in Fort Bend are more than ready to welcome the Disney family with thousands of good paying jobs and billions of dollars of investments.” Is that not taking a stance, sir?
Definitely there is an anti-business sentiment – there is nothing wrong in taking a stand for business. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
7. Texas is a conservative state. You’re going from Florida to Texas which is a conservative state. Are you saying the atmosphere in Fort Bend and Texas in general would be more hospitable to Disney?
So I just wanted to say – also I just wanted to say that I don’t control Austin or what is happening in Austin. I can only talk about Fort Bend County and that’s exactly what I’m doing and I am inviting them and obviously a company like Disney, they can make the judgement on what is right and what is good for them and that is their judgement and I respect that. I am doing my part. That’s what I did.
8. Have you run this by people in Austin or at the state level?
I haven’t. I haven’t yet.
9. Have you been to Disney before?
Oh, I – of course. Who hasn’t, right? Everybody has been to Disney, yes, I did.
10. What’s your favorite ride? What’s your favorite park?
Not specifically. I am not a ride person. I just visit. I took my kids there and that stuff. So it is an attraction for the whole world. And it’s not just about a specific ride or specific area. It is an attraction for the whole world and so, more than me, it is about my kids so that’s why I went there.
11. And you’d like to have (Disney) in Fort Bend County?
Oh my God. Absolutely yes. Like I said, it’s not about me. Definitely, otherwise there is nothing else for me to write the letter and get into this conversation, right? Definitely would like to have. More than ride. I’m looking at economic development. I’m looking at bringing good jobs to Fort Bend County. That’s my job you know, as the chief executive of Fort Bend County and also, you know, this year we started Fort Bend County’s Economic Development Department and the message to our citizens and beyond is we will continue to focus on inviting companies and organizations to our county and our economic development is going to be our No. 1 priority moving forward. That’s the message.
12. Was it an attention-grabbing move?
Whatever the way you want to look at it is fine and like I said, economic development is my No. 1 priority and I am definitely sending a message to our citizens. That is what we are focused on. This is not the first time we are doing it. We did it before and we have at least some results and we send letters to Tesla. We send letters to other organizations and other organizations. Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t and you know, that doesn’t mean you stop and so I understand what you’re trying to say. We will continue to do that. Whichever the way you want to think that is fine. I believe it is all about economic development and creating jobs. That’s my job and that’s my intention.