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Questionnaires were sent to candidates for Constable Precinct 2, Roy Ivey and Charles Paul, but were not returned by press time. Candidate Q&As will continue in Tuesday's edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

Elmer Tanner, Navarro County Sheriff

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Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner

• The Sheriff’s Office budget has been a point of contention during this campaign. Given the uncertainty and requirement to fulfill unfunded state mandates, how do you plan to lower that budget?

I really haven't seen it as a point of contention. Unfunded mandates are certainly an imposition on an already tight budget, but by working with our Commissioner's Court and following my years of experience with the Sheriff's Budget, I am very proud to have been able to return over $4,300,000 to the county over these past seven years, while still making many improvements within the department. Since I began my tenure as Sheriff, we have made tremendous progress throughout the department in upgrading much needed equipment, technology, and making necessary and badly improvements to the 32 year old facility. I take pride in being instrumental in saving taxpayers dollars in many ways such as painting the jail with inmate labor, seeking and obtaining grants for training and purchasing equipment while always using conservative values to keep up with the states unfunded mandates and combating the rising maintenance cost of an aging 32-year-old facility.

Those without experience in reacting to these kinds of demands and preparing for uncertainties could find themselves easily going over budget.

• How do you feel that your background has prepared you for this position?

My seven years of experience as the Sheriff obviously prepares me for the position but with that being said, my 30 plus years within this department have provided me an invaluable education on how this agency delivers service in our rural community. Over the years, I have forged strong working relationships with other area law enforcement leaders and agencies both in and outside of Navarro County and I understand our role in the county and our community. As Sheriff, over the last two terms I have tried to lead by example and I demonstrated my willingness to get involved wherever the department or community needs my influence.

• Including leadership managerial communication and officer skill sets, how would each of you characterize your development in the necessary roles for a sheriff?

Qualifications for the job should matter. Over those three decades, I worked in almost every role within the department and fulfilled all of the usual peace officer responsibilities along the way. I progressed through the department, preparing myself for leadership and command responsibilities by ensuring my training and experience met those demands. I've held command positions in all divisions of the NCSO and represented the department on large multi-agency task force operations.

I have 30 years of full time experience at the NCSO with the last seven years as Sheriff. I also have a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Instructor License/Proficiency Certification and currently have 2,715 TCOLE Training Hours. I hold a Master Peace Officer Certification, Master Jail Proficiency Certification, Advanced SWAT Certification, Crisis/Hostage Negotiator Certification, International Association of Police Chiefs Certified in SWAT Supervision and Management, Firearms Instructor, Patrol Rifle Instructor, JPX Pepper Gun Instructor, Sexual Assault and Family Violence Instructor, Public Information Officer Certification,

Patrol Field Training Officer Certification and Drug Enforcement Administration Clandestine Lab Training Certification

• Campaigns are about meeting people and sharing your vision with individuals. Has anything during this campaign surprised you about this process or during your interactions with Navarro County residents?

I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support that I have received from our citizens since becoming Sheriff on Jan. 1, 2013. I love meeting people and am always happy to talk about how we utilize our resources and what we are doing for our community. I believe communication is key and therefore I developed many ways to communicate and interact with our citizens, from developing a departmental website, utilizing Facebook and Twitter along with the monthly Sheriffs Roundup column in our local newspaper.

When re-elected, I will continue to communicate and interact with our citizens about the operations of the NCSO the same as I have for the past seven years. We will continue our commitment to keeping our communities safe, continue working with and educating our citizens about various scams in our community as well as continue the fight to keep drugs off our streets and out of the hands of our children.

Together we will continue to make a difference.

David Foreman, candidate for Navarro County Sheriff

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The Sheriff’s Office budget has been a point of contention during this campaign. Given the uncertainty and requirement to fulfill unfunded state mandates, how do you plan to lower that budget?

The Sheriff’s office budget now takes up 60% of our county tax dollars. The budget may not can be cut. But because of the possibility of unfunded mandates it is more important than ever to be wise with the budget.

As Sheriff we will always use competitive bidding and pricing for services. I also think that with a good maintenance plan we can extend the life of the county vehicles from the current 125,000 miles to around 200,000 thousand miles. If we do a little cross training in places we will be able to help out other departments, and the courts, without adding new personnel, which adds to the budget in a very large and lasting way.

• How do you feel that your background has prepared you for this position?

Thirty-nine years in law enforcement with around 800 hours of training with the State of Texas. And hours and hour of hands on. I think that my most important qualifications are in business and personnel management of money and people. Learning over the years on how to be a good listener, let your people have input into things. Knowing when you need to step up and take charge and when stay back and let your people do the work. There is more than one way to get the job done in most cases.

Including leadership managerial communication and officer skill sets, how would each of you characterize your development in the necessary roles for a sheriff?

Talk with the personnel, not at them, treat people the way I would want to be treated and talked too. This is what I have learned in schools and classes I have attended over the years. Communicate clearly to our people so we are all on the same page. Be honest and stand behind your words.

Campaigns are about meeting people and sharing your vision with individuals. Has anything during this campaign surprised you about this process or during your interactions with Navarro County residents?

 I have met a lot of people across this county. That’s what I have enjoyed most of all.

William “Will” Dixon, Navarro County District Attorney

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As District Attorney, what programs and policies would you implement to reduce crime and increase public safety in the community?

Shortly after I was appointed District Attorney, I announced an initiative to increase community safety. Our office agreed to dismiss Driving with License Invalid charges if the defendant obtains a valid occupational driver's license. This ensures that these offenders do not continue breaking the law and that they have insurance to pay for any accidents they might cause. If the defendant cannot obtain an occupational driver's license, he or she faces being convicted. The program has been a resounding success. Approximately 200 individuals now have their driver's licenses and are properly insured.

Navarro County has little violent crime. However, when violent crimes occur, I act decisively to deter further violence. For example, after I became district attorney, I retracted the 15-year plea deal my opponent in this election offered the shooter in the robbery of a Rice convenience store. The victim was shot five times. After considering our evidence and arguments, Judge Lagomarsino sentenced the shooter to 61 years in prison, calling it the closest thing to capital murder he’s seen in his tenure as judge. This brand of law enforcement sends a message.

We have also successfully prosecuted several heinous and high-profile crimes since I’ve become district attorney with great results. We have obtained convictions for human trafficking (three consecutive terms of 99 years), for continuous sexual assault of a child (50 years in prison without being eligible for parole), and for drug dealing (numerous sentences of more than 25 years in prison). This type of forceful prosecution deters crime.

Illegal narcotics, especially meth, are a plague on our county. We vigorously prosecute drug dealers; this helps diminish the supply of drugs, but it does not affect the demand. I would like to establish a drug court with the help of Judge Lagomarsino and Judge Putman. Drug courts have aided thousands of users get off drugs and get them on the track of becoming productive citizens.

The county spends a lot of money on corrections. In developing policies for charging and plea bargaining, would you consider the impact these choices have on your county's corrections budget?

I’m a fiscal conservative. I believe in saving tax payers money whenever possible. However, saving money cannot take precedence over safety and justice.

I have instructed my prosecutors to first look at the cases brought to us by the police with defendants residing in jail. If the offense does not merit jail time, then we act decisively. We speak to defense counsel to either arrange a plea or work to get an appropriate bond amount set.

We also work closely with County Judge Davenport’s office to expedite the process for misdemeanor offenders who are in jail. This close working relationship has greatly lowered the number of misdemeanor offenders from staying in jail too long.

When I took over as District Attorney, the situation had become so serious that the county was looking at moving inmates to out-of-county facilities, at a great cost to the county. In January 2019 more than 275 inmates resided in the jail. At the end of January 2020, there were 226 inmates. The community has remained safe and saved thousands of dollars.

When we focus on the appropriate plea deals for offenders we primarily focus on justice, not money.

• What do you think is the most effective way to deal with low-level drug offenders?

I implemented a pre-trial diversion program in which first time marijuana users must report to probation, take a drug class, stay clean, and stay out of trouble for six months. If the defendant does this, his or her case is dismissed as if it never happened. Approximately 150 people have completed this program. They're learning not to use drugs, and they're keeping their record clean.

With marijuana being so prevalent in the rest of the country, possession of marijuana should rarely be an offense warranting jail time; however, the primary exceptions are dealing marijuana to children and the possession of large quantities of marijuana for distribution.

Offenders who possess narcotics such as methamphetamine and cocaine require different approaches targeted to the individual. First time offenders who possess less than a gram of a narcotic generally should be given a deferred adjudication sentence under 12.44(b) of the Texas Penal Code (meaning that the defendant must plead guilty, but if he or she completes probation satisfactorily, the judge will not adjudicate the client guilty and there will not be conviction on his or her record). Users need help. If they don’t get help, they often commit other crimes to pay for their addictions. Our plea deals generally require treatment and drug classes. If the defendant continues using drugs, they are sent to inpatient programs. Prison is the last option.

• Outside of sentencing, please describe the process you would use in evaluating cases and individuals, balancing punishment and justice for our community while attempting to limit recidivism and providing an opportunity for a second chance?

Our office has a great diversity of viewpoints. We discuss difficult cases as a team. This helps ferret out what truly is just for every case. This also helps ensure that we are not being blinded by preconceived biases. Before a prosecutor in our office can dismiss a case, he must talk to his court partner; after talking to his court partners he must talk to a supervisor.

As mandated in the Texas Victim’s Bill of Rights, we make sure that we speak with every victim before a plea deal is done. We also attempt to speak with the investigating detectives before pleading out a serious case. We have a policy of speaking with the Children’s Advocacy Center to get their opinion on serious cases involving children victims. The more information the better for making decisions.

At the end of the day, justice is our goal.

Will Thompson, candidate for Navarro County District Attorney

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• As District Attorney, what programs and policies would you implement to reduce crime and increase public safety in the community?

It’s important to know that most crime, and many other costly problems in Navarro County can be traced to felony or “hard” drugs. I will implement regular meetings with the heads of all local law enforcement agencies, together with representatives from State and Federal agencies to bring local, state and federal resources together in a coordinated effort to combat the drug problem.

I will resume training sessions with our law enforcement officers, which I initiated and conducted while serving as the First Assistant District Attorney, to ensure investigations conducted by our officers on the street will hold up in the courtroom.

• The county spends a lot of money on corrections. In developing policies for charging and plea bargaining, would you consider the impact these choices have on your county’s corrections budget?

Costs suffered by victims are not borne by the taxpayers, but these are real costs that must be weighed against the opportunity to save the county money by releasing criminals from jail. My top priority must be the safety of the citizens. I will ensure that defendants who cause monetary loss to victims and receive probation will be ordered to pay restitution to their victims.

I am a strong fiscal conservative and know how to reduce costs. I will significantly improve how expeditiously criminal cases are resolved in two ways:

First, I will return to a policy implemented by Lowell Thompson that all criminal cases submitted to the District Attorney’s office will be reviewed and either filed with the appropriate court or declined within five business days. I will do this by having attorneys whose primary responsibility is prompt review and filing of cases, and providing the evidence with a plea offer to the defendant’s attorney. I will do this personally on major cases to ensure that defendants are not jailed for months before a charging decision is made.

Second, as the First Assistant District Attorney I developed, and Lowell Thompson approved, a plea bargaining policy that provided a slightly lesser sentence for those who accepted responsibility and resolved their cases within about 60 days of indictment to incentivize expeditious resolution of cases. I will reinstitute this policy and ensure that it is followed consistently.

Lastly, the amount and any conditions for release on bail while a case is pending is, by law, set by a Justice of the Peace, not the District Attorney. The District Attorney may in some cases agree to lower the amount of bail on a case-by-case basis, and I will certainly do that when warranted, but the most significant influence the District Attorney can have to minimize these costs is by filing, negotiating and resolving cases expeditiously.

What do you think is the most effective way to deal with low-level drug offenders?

My goal in handling most cases is to prevent the defendant from further involvement in the criminal justice system. To that end, my philosophy on negotiating cases is to consider what is the minimum sentence and conditions that will give the citizens the best likelihood that the defendant will be deterred from further criminal activity.

I consider low-level drug offenses to include possession of less than one gram (about five servings) of “hard” drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, PCP and heroin. All of these drugs are extremely addictive, so deterring further criminal activity must require: treatment to assess and address the level of drug dependence; supervision to ensure that the treatment program is followed; and testing to determine whether the defendant is continuing to use drugs.

Generally a first offense possession of small quantities of drugs can be resolved with two to three years of deferred adjudication probation, which means there is no felony conviction if the term of probation is successfully completed, an outpatient treatment program, and regular testing for further drug use.

I will ensure that an appropriate level of treatment is required for any defendant who receives probation for a drug offense.

Defendants are supervised by the probation department who ensure that the treatment and other conditions are followed.

While I was the First Assistant District Attorney, we adopted a policy that drug offenders were required to submit quarterly hair tests for drug use instead of the prior practice of using urine tests. This is because, although slightly cheaper, urine tests are ineffective because they only detect drug use within 48 to 72 hours prior to the test, and hair tests can detect use months prior to the test. This is critical so that subsequent drug use can be detected early and the offender can be referred to a more intensive, usually in-patient, treatment program before they deepen their addiction to the drug.

I would also like to see a “drug docket” program wherein low level drug offenders who meet certain criteria participate in a program for about 12 months that includes counseling, regular testing and updates to the court and pairing with a mentor. Ideally I would like to connect such offenders with people who have truly experienced, and beaten drug addiction and can discuss with credibility what their experiences were and how they overcame their addiction.

• Outside of sentencing, please describe the process you would use in evaluating cases and individuals, balancing punishment and justice for our community while attempting to limit recidivism and providing an opportunity for a second chance.

My philosophy for all but the most serious offenses is to determine what is the minimum sentence and conditions that will give the community a reasonable chance that the offender will be deterred from further criminal activity.

Criminal convictions, particularly felony convictions, have serious and lasting consequences. Therefore, with very rare exceptions, a person should have an opportunity to put at least one poor choice behind them by having some consequences but without suffering a criminal record that may last a lifetime. This can be achieved by pretrial diversion programs, which were implemented at my suggestion while I was the First Assistant District Attorney, and by deferred adjudication probation.

The deterrent effect of our criminal justice system is diminished when there is a significant delay between the crime and the consequences. The requirements of justice cause some delays which cannot be avoided but I will ensure that the District Attorney’s Office screens and evaluates cases expeditiously and negotiates plea bargains to incentivize those who wish to resolve their case by plea bargain to do so in a timely manner so as to minimize the resources expended.

Experience has taught me that absolute rules requiring particular sentences for specific offenses are unworkable. Every case and every defendant is different and no matter how sensible a particular rule may seem, there will inevitably be a case that warrants an exception. On the other hand, absent some guidelines there can be significant differences in consequences for similar crimes based on which prosecutor handles the case. I will have specific guidelines based on the nature of the offense and the offender’s prior history, and deviations from those guidelines will require my personal approval. That’s what leaders get paid to do.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are heinous offenses and habitual offenders for whom the best way to protect the community is to seek to have them incarcerated for as long as possible. I consider those with long records for drug dealing to be in this category. I empathize with the many in our community who suffer from drug addiction, but I have no tolerance for those who have shown a pattern of profiting from the distribution of drugs that ruin so many lives.

In the long run, it is the responsibility of the District Attorney to lead the office in a way that keeps our citizens safe to help make Navarro County a best place to live and work.

Eddie Moore, Commissioner Pct. 3

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• What motivated you to run for office? What makes you qualified?

For the last 10 years, I had been watching politics in general and wanted to do something on the local level that would help our community grow and become a better place to raise a family. The county needed someone with a business background, and I felt that I could help in that area, having owned a local business for 43 years. I wanted to improve the county infrastructure and work to keep families safe, while helping to protect our property rights and our Second Amendment rights.

• If elected, what is your main goal? If not elected, how will you continue to serve your community?

My main goal is to continue to work with the other members of the Commissioners Court keeping the county's operating costs down to an effective level and keeping the budget as low as possible. We have made tremendous strides improving the county's infrastructure in Pct. 3, ensuring the public's safety is always my main concern. Growth is imminent for Navarro County in the future, and I plan on staying ahead of the curve with the road maintenance and reconstruction for some of the roads in certain areas. I work closely with the economic development director on lining up companies to consider Navarro County as their new location. This will increase revenue for the county without increasing the burden on the property owners.

• In your opinion, what is the most important job of the elected office you are campaigning for?

This is a two-part question, in my opinion. Making sure the Bridge and Road crews are operating efficiently with safe equipment and material is a major part of my job. I have upgraded the motor graders, replacing the worn out machines with brand new ones, and adding a brush cutter and new backhoe to the arsenal. The second part has to do with the county's finances. We have to make sure the county budget is kept down to a reasonable amount. We have "unfunded mandates," which are new laws handed down from our legislature to enact, but without financing. This puts a huge strain on our budget when we have to spend revenue without reimbursement from the state. Between these two parts of the commissioner's role, it is very difficult to balance, but I manage it.

• What do you think needs to change about the office? What would you keep the same?

Every Commissioner wishes they had more resources and time, I enjoy this job. The opportunity to meet people and address their concerns, and do the job right has always appealed to me. I am privileged to work alongside good people who take the responsibility of road maintenance seriously.

The truth is, there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many resources with which to work. The roads require constant attention, but as Commissioner of Pct. 3, I will continue to encourage industrial growth so that home and business owners can share in the benefits of good, safe roads together.

It has been my honor to serve as Pct. 3 Commissioner for one term, I ask again for your vote to continue the work that needs to be done.

Kevin Matthews, candidate for Commissioner Pct. 3

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• What motivated you to run for office? What makes you qualified?

Listening to the concerns of my neighbors and fellow business owners inspired me to run for this office. I believe in our county and the people who live here, and I want to do everything I can to serve them.

I'm a small business owner and a farmer, landowner, and taxpayer - not a politician. I have to watch every penny while maintaining my equipment, meeting all my legal and financial obligations, and getting the job done. I will bring that businesslike attitude and frugality to the job. I have worked in road construction, and my understanding of how important that is to the people of Precinct 3 is born from my own experience.

• If elected, what is your main goal? If not elected, how will you continue to serve your community?

My goals are simple. First, we must be careful and effective with taxpayer dollars. Secondly, we need to improve road maintenance and do everything we can to mitigate the damage brought on by erosion. Finally, I want to keep our county clean so that trash doesn't make the erosion problem worse.

• In your opinion, what is the most important job of the elected office you are campaigning for?

I will continue to be involved in county affairs, communicate my concerns to local officials, and help them any way that I can. I will also continue to serve through voluntary organizations and my local church.

• What do you think needs to change about the office? What would you keep the same?

The most important job for any office holder is to serve the needs of the public. For the county commissioners, that means managing county resources for the benefit of the business community and people of the county and maintaining an infrastructure that makes economic growth possible.

The change we need the most is an emphasis on excellence and continuous improvement. All organizations tend to get complacent and only a determined effort brings about positive changes.

The structure of county government, which is accountable and responsive to the taxpayers and voters should not be changed to a less responsive system.

 

 

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