When it comes to sheer population growth, the 1200 square miles of Montgomery County rivals almost any area of the country.
Maximizing the benefit and minimizing the pain will demand wisdom and discipline. As the newly sworn County Judge, Mark Keough hopes to deliver both.
"We are not worried about the next campaign. We are going to do what's right on their behalf. We are going to become listeners to what's important to them," said Keough.
As Montgomery County government's chief executive Keough views his most daunting challenge as a dual one -- contending wisely with a staggering rate of growth while prudently containing property taxes for the more than half a million residents in his jurisdiction.
"I think that the opportunity of smart growth has to go with taxing the right entities and not, if you will, punishing people who've lived here and built the community by pricing them out of their homes," said Keough.
A committed conservative in perhaps the most thoroughly Republican county in the Lone Star State, Keough feels a compelling responsibility to help spread the prosperity reflected by the Woodlands to more rural, less affluent communities to the north, east and west.
"I believe as time goes on, in the next couple of decades, you are going to see what has taken place in the south spread throughout the rest of the county. It's going to benefit our kids," says Keough who will lead his first session of Commissioner's Court on January 8.
Keough, who ran on a pledge of governmental transparency, says a comprehensive mobility plan for Montgomery County is close to complete and calls it the kind of transportation system essential to attracting new businesses and new jobs.