Paramount Alarm's Foster to lead Dallas County

Thursday, February 1, 2007

DALLAS--Jim Foster, chief executive officer of Paramount Alarm, a residential and commercial alarm company, has been elected Dallas County judge and was sworn into office Jan. 2.
The office presides over the Commissioners Court and is regarded as the most powerful in Dallas County, Texas's second-largest county and one of the largest in the United States. The position is like a mayor, and the court like a city council, in terms of the county's organization.
Incumbent Margaret Keliher, a Republican, was the favorite in the race, according to the Dallas Morning News. Foster said, "She had 20 times more [campaign] money than I did and spent it, but, at the same time, I was out every day, meeting with the people at any and every event I could attend, sometimes four events a day, including Saturdays and many times Sundays. I just outworked her."
Chris Russell, president of the North Texas Alarm Association for which Foster serves as a director and a long-time friend of Foster's, said "it's always good to have people who understand our business in elected office," but, more importantly, "it will be beneficial for Dallas County to have Jim in office. He's a good businessman."
The DMN attributed Foster's win to a near-universal victory by the Democratic Party in Dallas County because of voter disaffection with Republican office-holders. Foster said it was his message of returning government to the people that won him the office. It is his first elected position; he ran unsuccessfully for Sheriff three years ago.
Foster doesn't see himself as becoming a career politician. "I'm 63 years old and I'll be 67 at the end of my four-year term," he said, "so I'd say two terms would be the most that I'm going to be doing this."
Paramount Alarm, a statewide integrator doing about 80 percent of its work in fire and employing 10, will be in the able hands of sales head Jim Adams. "Nothing will change," Adams said. "I've been here a long time." If anything, he speculated the company might need to hire another installer certified in fire. The company is also in the process of hiring a new service manager.
Foster thinks his alarm background will serve him well as county judge, especially as he's now in charge of emergency management, which is "going to need a new building. That's very similar to a central station. There's many similarities in terms of meeting requirements and I doubt that anyone else on the court has that kind of experience."
As for Dallas's controversial verified commercial alarm policy, Foster said he'll be in an advisory position, talking with Dallas city government. However, he said, "My recommendation is probably going to be with the state Legislature, and my recommendation is going to be that if a city intends to do that they need to put it up to a public vote."