Some 65 people signed in at the event at the Gilmer Country Club, said committee Secretary Madaline Barber. Candidates for Upshur County, Congressional and state offices spoke.
Sherry Jewkes-Larsen, running for Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace, cited her 12 years as current clerk under retiring incumbent W.V. Ray and said “I feel I’m more than qualified to do the job.” She said she is a certified clerk and that taxpayers deserve a “full-time” JP.
Her opponent, Rebecca (Becky) Skinner, cited her nearly 29 years experience in the judicial system, the last 17 as Gilmer City Judge and 12 years beforehand as the court’s clerk. She said the law allows her to simultaneously serve as Municipal Judge and JP, and that criminal law in the two courts is the same.
Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Rhonda Welch, unopposed for reelection, said she is collecting revenue for the county and expressed pride that her office recently collected on a $4,000 hot check.
Don Gross, who opposes incumbent Cole Hefner for Pct. 2 County Commissioner, said citizens want “economic development,” and that he favored publicizing reasons for business to come to the county. He also said he was only asking for one 4-year term “as I have no (other political) ambition.”
Wyone Manes, one of three candidates for Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace, noted she had formerly held the office, pledged to be a full-time judge, and said if someone comes into the office for a ticket, “You don’t want to talk to the clerk. You want to talk to the judge.”
One of her two opponents, Cheryl Taylor, said that while she had no experience working in court, her background as a home health nurse will allow her to pronounce someone dead in a home with “professionalism.” She also said she could learn on the job, would be full-time, and that her past work as a safety manager means “I know how to enforce rules and regulations.”
Todd Quinn, who opposes Brandy Vick for County Treasurer, said he wanted to make Upshur “one of the most financially stable” counties in Texas, and that the Treasurer can “do the greatest benefit for the county without having to get in all the political factions.”
Former Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith spoke on behalf of Kathryn Wilson, candidate for District Clerk, before she briefly introduced herself to the crowd. Smith said Wilson worked for him for more than four years, “did a good job,” and that she transported prisoners and “spent a lot of time” working in courts.
Her opponent, Karen Bunn, noted she is currently over the court registry as a Deputy District Clerk, that retiring incumbent Carolyn Parrott has endorsed her, and said she is the “most qualified candidate” with hands-on experience.
Ronnica Ridgeway, opposing incumbent Dean Fowler for County Judge, said she would vote on issues coming before the County Commissioners Court because it is “impossible to hold someone accountable” if he/she doesn’t vote. She also said she is hearing citizens’ concern about taxes increasing, and that the county should bring in industry because it has no industrial base to “absorb” the tax burden.
Amy Miller, spokewoman for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in his contested bid for renomination by the GOP, heard some dissatisfaction with her candidate from a few audience members during her presentation. She disagreed with some who contended that Cornyn criticized fellow Sen. Ted Cruz and that he wasn’t in the fight with the Tea Party against Obamacare. She said Cornyn voted 27 times against it.
Brent Lawson, one of several candidates seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, cited “practical initiatives” he said are on his website and said he would work to “preserve our heritage.”
Bryan Slaton, representing State Comptroller candidate Harvey Hilderbran, said the candidate has a 10-point plan, including bringing back performance reviews for that office.
Glenn Hegar, one of Hilderbran’s three opponents in the primary, said he favored posting online information where people could compare school districts’ tax rates.