By Greg Ritchie
HOUSTON COUNTY – With signs adorning yards, empty spaces and homes and fields throughout the county, you may have still missed it, but there’s an election this year for Houston County Sheriff.
There are two Republican candidates, incumbent Randy Hargrove and challenger Zak Benge. Both men have been featured in these pages, both by supporting local events or by publishing their own articles about their qualifications and plans for the job.
With a Mar. 5 primary to determine the overall winner, both men have been busy, attending local events, explaining their proposals, no doubt shaking a hand or two along the way. The Messenger is not sure if political candidates still kiss babies; especially post-COVID.
The Messenger is once again this year teaming up with the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a candidate forum Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Crockett Civic Center at 6 p.m. Both men have confirmed their attendance, and before and after the candidate forum the gentlemen will have tables set up outside to speak one-on-one with voters and hear the concerns of voters, directly.
The Messenger began its political debates in 2022, with the race for Justice of the Peace in Precinct One, continuing last year with debates for Crockett Mayor, Crockett City Council, Houston County Hospital District Board, Grapeland City Council and Grapeland Independent School District Board.
This reporter will serve as the event moderator, and while no questions can be revealed, the concerns of our citizens regarding everything from safety, communication, budgets, training and more will be addressed.
If there are specific issues you would like to see the candidates answer, please email me directly and we will get to as many questions as the brief time will allow. We generally stick to more common themes which will be of everyone’s interest, reserving more individual concerns to be handled by the candidates themselves, following the debate.
We will have some important guests from around the county who will be in attendance, including local students and one of our local pastors to bless the proceedings before we begin.
The issues facing the new sheriff, whomever it may be, are numerous. From increased crime from outside the county, a surge of people and narcotics from the southern border, coordinating the local law enforcement – now with school districts with their own police departments – to the issue of funding; the sheriff’s job is only becoming more complicated and the two candidates will be asked to address these issues, and more.
Please plan to join us, as we will take no more than an hour of your time, and assure that you will walk away with a better idea of the two gentlemen on the ballot and hopefully, make a more informed vote.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]