By Greg Ritchie
HOUSTON COUNTY – The signs have already begun to crop up in yards and business. T-shirts are sold, online posts liked and shared – yes, it is campaign time in Houston County with the candidates now getting into full campaign mode.
The Houston County Hospital District suffered one loss from the race with position three challenger Patricia Carter not receiving verification of the signatures submitted and leaving incumbent Harvey Bruner unopposed. The issues facing our county hospital board are many, including negotiating for a longterm partner to run the hospital, tax rates and proper use of that tax money to make sure the county continues to have a local hospital for its residents.
The Messenger has teamed up with the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce and its Executive Director Liza Clark to hold a public forum where voters can meet the candidates and hear them speak for themselves. Each candidate will be officially invited and will have the opportunity after the debate to speak with voters and answer their questions. The date is set for April 25 at the Crockett Civic Center at 6 p.m.
The current open positions and candidates for the hospital district are:
Houston County Hospital District Board:
Position 1 – Barbara Crowson (I), Buddy Clonts, Kim Spellman
Position 3 – Debbie Kelly (I) (unopposed)
Position 5 – Roy Langford (I), Tami English McCreight
Position 9 – Carol Dawson (I), Darryll Bennett
The city of Crockett will also vote for mayor and two city council positions. Incumbent Mayoral Candidate Dr. Ianthia Fisher faces challenger Connie Strban. The questions in this race are about the progress of the city at the present time, versus what could be done better. Councilman Gene Caldwell, who currently represents Precinct One has moved recently into Precinct Two and will challenge that councilman, Darryl Jones. Precinct One has three running for the seat, Dennis Ivey, Samantha Wiley and Joe Don James.
The Messenger and the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce are also working together to present our city candidates at the Crockett Civic Center, April 18 at 6 p.m. The candidates will all receive the same questions for their race and have plenty of time to meet and greet and answer questions from the public. All candidates have eagerly agreed to participate, except for Darryl Jones who flatly refused to participate.
Grapeland has several competitive races both for the city council and the school board. The Messenger is working with the Grapeland Chamber of Commerce and its Director Amber Loew to host a similar forum in Grapeland for these positions. The details are still to be confirmed, but once confirmed, all candidates and the public will be invited to this important event. The format will be similar, with candidates given time to introduce themselves and an opportunity to meet one-on-one with voters after the event.
Grapeland City Council:
Velda Green (I)
George R. Pierson (I)
Grapeland ISD School Board:
Position 1 – Brad Spisak (I), Travis Brown
Position 2 – Twila Ibarra, T.C. Howard
Position 5 – Josh Goolsby (I), Cannon Vickers
The Messenger has opted for a “forum” rather than a traditional debate for several reasons. First of all, these are non-political positions, meaning they are not tied to one of the two major political parties in the country. While many of the candidates are known to be part of those parties, city and school positions are for the good of all with party not playing a role.
The Messenger believes anyone who becomes a candidate for our local races should be applauded for putting their time, energy and money into trying to help their community. We leave it for the voters to decide which ideas are better or more realistic. We provide a platform for these people to introduce themselves and tell why they can do the best job if elected.
We do encourage our readers to contact us if there are any questions they would like answered and we will consider them all. Very specific questions about very specific issues we will leave to the public to ask directly to the candidates at these upcoming events.
If we do not participate in these events – if we cannot give an hour of our time to come out and meet these people – if we do not go out and vote – then we have little right to complain afterwards. This is small-scale democracy at its finest. These are our neighbors asking for our trust to help run things while we tend to our daily lives. The Messenger hopes the local citizens will attend these events, if not to support any particular candidate – at least to support the democratic process still very much alive.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]