Candidates in contested primary races speak at luncheon
Candidates in contested races in the Brown County Republican Party primary election on March 1 spoke Friday at a luncheon hosted by the Brown County Republican Women's Club.
Candidates were given two minutes each to speak at the Brownwood Country Club luncheon.
Brown County Judge
A four-person race between incumbent Paul Lilly and challengers Shane Britton, Molly Kay Smith and Terry Blevins is under way.
Lilly, who is in his first term as county judge, said he would recap his three years in office. “My first year in office I used money that already existed in the budget and created a grants coordinator position," Lilly said. "We received over $9.2 million federal grants. This year we’ve given over $42,000 of that to nonprofits.
"We gave the water control board $175,000 to make sure that if we have another storm like we did a year ago, we will never again go without water. We spent over $900,000 of it to the various water districts to make sure that they have generators."
Lilly concluded with remarks about COVID, saying, "we know now a lot more than we did in 2020 and as long as I am county judge, we will never again close any business in this county due to COVID.”
Molly Kay Smith
Smith, who graduated in Brownwood High School in 1995, graduated from Baylor University in 1999 with an education degree. She works in farming and ranching.
"I am a conservative, a farmer, a rancher, a conservationist, a small business owner, property owner and property taxpayer," Smith said. "I paid for my own education built my own cattle business. I think I can help bridge the gap between rural and urban cultures.
"My primary goal for our commissioners court is to improve our morale. As the chair who oversees our commissioners court, I will implement proper parliamentary procedure."
Smith said her top two priorities are water conservation and law enforcement. "Our Texas population is growing but Lake Brownwood is not," Smith said.
She said a county judge in Texas is not required to have a law degree. "The state of Texas will provide adequate training necessary for me to perform all the required judicial duties," Smith said.
"My greatest asset that I have is a strong desire to learn, but most importantly, I am teachable. I am not afraid of conflict and the uncomfortable conversations that most people run away from altogether. Uncomfortable conversations about race, child abuse and mental illness will lead to bridge building and civil behavior among everyone. I will lead by example and I am comfortable serving in that position. I am from Brown County and I am for Brown County. I want to take Brown County from good to great.”
Blevins, who works as an insurance adjuster, said he's been "actively engaged in numerous local civic clubs and community projects, and I’ve even spearheaded a few. I have started, built, managed, grown and eventually sold several local businesses. I have managed large numbers of people during major disaster cleanups around the country and disaster cleanup contracts and as a storm manager working for various insurance companies.
"I have proven to be unparalleled in my work ethic. Many of those years I had all of the irons in the fire at the same time. My platform is simple: In all things and at all times, do the right thing. I’m making only three promises: availability, accountability and commitment.
"I am committed to our community and focused on our community. I would like to cultivate a return to the past when citizens served the community and politics was not a career path.”
Britton, who currently serves as Brown County attorney, said, "qualifications matter. Brown County is a business and you own the business. The money the county spends is your money and that money doesn’t belong to Judge Lilly, that money doesn’t belong to the commissioners, that money doesn’t belong to the county attorney.
"This is your money. This is your business. You own this business. You should decide who runs your business. You should decide how the money’s spent. You should decide how we collect taxes. Every decision that we make in Brown County needs to be made by you.
"If you were hiring someone to run your business, qualifications would matter. You would look at education. You would look at experience. You would look at certifications. You would look at all of those things. Make no mistake about it, the Brown County judge is a judicial position that has administrative duties. We have to reopen the Brown County Court that has been closed the last three years."
County commissioner Precinct 2
Incumbent Joel Kelton faces challengers Bo Allen and Jeff Hoskinson.
Kelton, who runs a mechanical machine shop in May, said, “I bring a commonsense approach to local government, which also means I’m a strong conservative. I’ve continuously served to help those of our precinct and the community as a whole. I’ve worked with North Lake community.”
Kelton said he has continued to oversee the improvement of roads in Precinct 2 and has worked to improve water systems. “I’ve always tried to do what is best for all of us as a whole," Kelton said.
Allen, a rancher, has been on the May school board for 35 years and serves as the community's fire chief. Allen said the school district's tax rate is nearly as low now as when he first joined the board. He said the volunteer fire department has built a new station and added trucks and equipment, and is debt free.
“I really like looking forward and I don’t want to get behind," Allen said. “I want to move Brown County forward. I want to make it a place that I’m proud to live in. And I am proud to live in Brown County and I cherish this opportunity that I have to make Brown County the best county in the state.”
Hoskinson, a contractor and bi-vocational preacher, said, “I drive the county roads every day. I just see some stuff that I think I could make better. I’m very conservative. I’m for lower taxes. My property taxes, every year they go up. A lot of people tell me it’s the appraisal district. No it’s not. It’s local government.
"So I will vote very conservative. My main concern is our taxes. I will always be open. I want to hear your ideas. I want to hear what the voters have to say.”
County commissioner Precinct 4
Incumbent Larry Traweek is challenged by George Huseman.
Traweek was unable to attend due to illness, and Kelton spoke on behalf of Traweek.
Kelton said Traweek is part of a multi-generational farm and ranch family in Bangs.
“Commissioner Traweek is well known and respected and has represented Bangs and Precinct 4 very well for quite a few years," Kelton said. "Commissioenr Traweek is a solid conservative and to all who know him, a straight talking individual. I know he is a gun rights advocate.He brings a commonsense approach to county government.”
Huseman is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and a pilot, and has worked in law enforcement.
“I drive the roads all the time," Huseman said. "I honestly think we can do a better job on the roads. I just think there’s a lot of money out there that’s being spent that could be better spent for our roads.
"I promise that I’ll serve, if elected, with integrity, with the honor that I served in the Army. I’m not a politician. I don’t play along to get along."
Justice of the Peace Precinct 3
Incumbent Bryan Thompson faces challenger Bryan Edwards.
Thompson, who has served as JP since 2007, said he thinks he's done a good job. Thompson noted that even though JPs are elected out of a precinct, they cover other precincts if needed.
“So you want somebody with experience," Thompson said. "I believe I’ve had the experience. You want somebody that’s fair and treats everybody equal, and that’s some of the things that I dwell on.”
Thompson said when he took office, fines for citations were higher on one side of the county than the other. “One of the first things I did when I took office was get that equalled out, to where it was the same everywhere," Thompson said.
He said his cell phone number is on his business cards, and while he can't discuss court cases, he takes calls "where people want to be led in the right direction. I appreciate serving Brown County. I wish to serve Brown County more."
Edwards, a therapist and former oilfield worker, said he wanted to "get back to a place where there was peace, people care about each other and a sense of community.”
Edwards said he wants to see a time “where we start to get to know each other once again. I’m concerned about what I’ve been seeing the past 20, 30 years. We’re starting to be pushed away from each other, whether it’s through a disease or just from general politics.
"I want to be a part of bringing a new perspective. I’m not running for any other reason but the fact that I want to make a difference the rest of my life."
Justice of the peace Precinct 3
In a four-way race, incumbent Ted Perez faces challengers Rusty Howell, H.Q. Thomas and Andre Smoot. Smoot did not attend.
Perez, who retired from law enforcement after serving with the Lubbock and Brownwood police departments and Brown County Sheriff's Office, was appointed in June to fill the vacancy created when Jim Cavanaugh retired as JP.
Perez noted that commissioners selected him from among five applicants to serve as JP. “It is my belief that my training as a police officer, my 40-plus years of law enforcement experience and being bi-lingual, along with my 6 ½ months as the incumbent, qualify me as the best choice to be the elected," Perez said.
Thomas, a retired law enforcement officer who served with the Odessa, Hutto and Brownwood police departments, said he has a degree in criminology and completed hours toward a master's degree.
Thomas, who served in the homicide unit of the Odessa Police Department, said, “I think one of the things that a justice of the peace has got to do is watch out for those types of things — suspicious deaths, decide whether there’s going to be an autopsy."
Thomas added, “people want to be heard, and you’ve got to listen and try to help people. I want to continue to serve, and that’s why I’m running for justice of the peace."
Howell, an Air Force veteran and business owner who has a degree in engineering, said he's running for JP because " I see a trend in our elected officials, and I was complaining to God about it. I see these elected officials get indoctrinated into a political process and they get changed a little bit.
"I do know that this season is not about politics, it’s about leadership. God said 'come over here and look at that man in the mirror and if you want to see change, be the change.' God has this hand on this area for a reason, and I believe that leadership will take it to a whole new level if we don’t play politics. I’m bringing a constitutional conservative servant leadership to Brown County to Precinct 4.”