Saturday, February 15, 2014

Candidates talk Credentials at Forum for Gregg JP, Commissioner Court

Photo by Michael Cavazos, LNJ
Article by Glenn Evans
View Longview News Journal article, published Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.

Three men who hope to handle small-claims court, truancy, inquests and on-sight arrest affidavits for southern Longview and Gregg County led a political forum Thursday pledging to work hard on all fronts.

“You are not going to get one thing solved when you don’t know how the problem starts,” Pct. 4 justice of the peace candidate Phillip Burns Sr. said about tackling truancy issues that can bring a fine of up to $500 for parents. “And a lot of times, the kids are not being rehabilitated.”

Burns joined fellow Democratic opponents James Mathis and Bobby White in the NAACP forum, which included the three men running for Pct. 4 commissioner and one of two GOP commissioner candidates in Pct. 2

“We only had one person that didn’t come that we asked to come share with us, and that was the incumbent commissioner from Precinct 2 in Gregg County,” NAACP Longview Unit President Branden Johnson said of Commissioner Darryl Primo.

“He said it wasn’t important,” Johnson told 130 people in the Broughton Recreational Center. “Hey. We don’t hold our tongues in the NAACP.”

Primo did not respond to phone calls Thursday night seeking comment.

Mathis said his 32 years in Gregg County law enforcement also brought him experience teaching young people in schools and churches.

“I can educate you in proper ways to secure your home,” he added.

“I have the materials and the knowledge of referring you to resources.”

White, who called himself “your prospective employee,” said he is the only JP candidate who holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice.

White told the audience he earned commendations in 1983 from then-Gov. Bill Clements and learned his detective skills under Longview’s first black detective.

“He was my mentor,” White said. “And he recommended me for my first professional assignment down in Henderson.”

All three Pct. 4 commissioner candidates said they would back a resolution to Austin supporting Medicaid expansion in Texas.

None of the Democrats approved of the Republican-passed Texas voter ID law that faces its first serious test in the March 4 party primaries, after causing only minor glitches in November’s constitutional amendment election.

All three said they would track down economic development leads to lure restaurants and other businesses to South Longview

“We need more business and industry in Pct. 4,” incumbent Mathis said.

Hatten praised the new Cracker Barrel restaurant in the precinct but complained there is no movie theater in Pct. 4.

Brown pointed out the precinct is home to East Texas Regional Airport, where renovations are underway, and to LeTourneau University, “a world-famous university.”

“And we need to use that to create jobs,” he added.

Fish, whose forays into revitalization and economic development in Longview-bound Pct. 2 led her into the race, pointed out the mission statement in the county budget urges cooperation to achieve those goals.

“Forward thinking, forward planning is critical if we’re going to be the hub of the wheel that turns East Texas,” she said.

“We have so many resources that the rest of the state is interested in.”

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