By SONYA ROBERTS-WOODS/Publisher
Titus County candidates and concerned citizens came together Oct. 18 to participate in the Midterm Political Forum sponsored by The Tri-County Press.
The event, held at the Mount Pleasant Civic Center, allowed attendees to submit questions just before the start of the event. Moderated by Sonya Roberts-Woods, publisher of The Tri-County Press, the forum featured candidates from both parties who are on the ballot in the upcoming general election. The Tri-County Press also held a forum just prior to the primary election in February which featured all 16 candidates from both political parties.
Candidates for Justice of the Peace for Precincts 1,3 and 4 first took the stage at the Thursday night event. Tracy Craig (DEM) and Steve Agan (REP) answered a variety of submitted questions including giving their positions on prison reform and rehabilitating offenders.
Democratic Commissioner Precinct 2 candidate Raymond Johnson next took the stage. Johnson, a lifelong Mount Pleasant resident, is running against Republican John Fitch who did not attend the event due to a scheduling conflict. Johnson won a spot on the November ballot after defeating fellow Democratic candidate Phillip Hoffman during the primary election March 6.
Wesley McCollum, an Independent candidate, is vying for the Commissioner Precinct 4 race after signing up as a write-in candidate. McCollum is challenging Republican incumbent Jimmy Parker who did not attend due to a scheduling conflict. According to the Titus County Election Office, voters who wish to vote for a write-in candidate must bubble in the oval and write the name in the space provided in order for the vote to be counted.
LaWyanda Miller Prince (DEM) and Marcus Carlock (REP) are opponents in the District Clerk race. The pair discussed, among other things, what changes they would each make to the operation of the clerk’s office if elected. Both candidates are also local business owners.
Texas Democratic Congressional District 4 candidate Catherine Krantz also attended the event and spoke to the audience about her intentions to “put people over politics and invest in the community.” She is challenging Republican incumbent John Ratcliffe who was first elected in 2014. District 4 is comprised of 16 counties including Titus, Camp, Morris and Franklin Counties and also includes portions of Upshur and Collin Counties.
The final portion of the forum was devoted to hearing both sides of the highly-contested Proposition A referendum on the ballot for Titus County voters to decide. The proposition reads: To discontinue the Optional County Road System in Titus County. A vote for the proposition essentially means a return to the original commissioner-maintained road system. A vote against means to keep the current unit road system which provides for a road engineer to coordinate and oversee the maintenance of county roads. Two years ago, voters successfully changed from a commissioner-maintained system to the unit road system.
Al Riddle, Titus County Commissioner Precinct 1, who spoke in favor of keeping the unit road system, offered points to encourage voters to bubble against discontinuing the existing maintenance program.
Alford Flanagan, a Mount Pleasant resident instrumental in securing petition signatures and getting the proposition on the ballot, provided reasons why voters should bubble for and return to having commissioners maintain roads in their respective precincts.
Titus County Judge Brian Lee provided closing remarks regarding the proposition and encouraged everyone to simply go vote.
Volunteer, who made the forum possible, included April Barnard of Marketing with April, Emily Shearin, LaDarius Wilkerson, members of Northeast Texas Unidos, the Civic Center staff led by Brendan Dennehy and the City of Mount Pleasant.
Early voting in Titus County will be held at the Election Office located at 110 S. Madison St. in Mount Pleasant Oct. 22-26 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28 from 12-6 p.m. and Oct. 29-Nov. 2 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at a number of precinct polling locations throughout Titus County.