Candidates for Grayson County Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 squared off Tuesday in a debate at the Grayson County Courthouse in preparation for the March primary. The candidates are competing for the spot currently held by Larry Ashley, who did not run for re-election.
The event was the first in a series of two debates that feature candidates for the various positions up for election in the upcoming cycle. The debates are being held by the Concerned Citizens of Grayson County and moderated by the Sherman Daybreak Toastmasters. The next debate will be on Feb. 11 and will feature candidates for Precinct 2.
The Justice of the Peace debate featured Howe Mayor Jeff Stanley and certified peace officer Rita Noel. Debbie Lowry, who is also running for the position, did not attend the debate.
When asked about their accomplishments within Grayson County, the candidates fell back on their law enforcement and political backgrounds. Noel referenced her eight years experience with the collections department of the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, where she assisted in the collection of more than $700,000 for the year. Stanley answered by mentioning his three terms as the mayor of Howe. When he first took up the reins of the city, it “was basically broken” after it lost its chamber of commerce and was dealing with uncooperative departments and the possibility of bankruptcy, said Stanley.
Both candidates agreed the the justice position is a full-time job, and should be treated as such.
“You are always doing something. Always,” said Noel. Stanley said that the job was not only a full-time job, but also a “24-hour-on-call job.”
When asked what qualifies them for the job, both candidates fell back once again on their backgrounds. Noel said she felt that her experience within the system was her boon when running for the position. With her position with the Sheriff’s Office, she said, her working relationship with law enforcement and the justices, for whom she has served as an interpreter, would help her accomplish her goals within the position. Also, her continued work with law enforcement has prepared her for the role of county medical examiner within the position of Jusrtrice of the Peace, she said.
Stanley said that the job of mayor has many similarities to the Justice of the Peace position. Both positions require administrative skills and budgetary measures. Beyond his position as a mayor, Stanley said he felt his experience in assisting the courts and past experience working with the Justice of the Peace courts and municipal courts would help him in his new position.