By GRACE GADDY
Allyson Mitchell announced this week her campaign for Anderson County district attorney, saying she plans to deal a tough hand to crime in the community and reinstate cooperation between law enforcement agencies to best serve citizens' needs.
“I want to take my experience and dedication to the field of prosecution and my care for Anderson County to the next level,” Mitchell told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “And the next level is to be the district attorney of this county. Being a prosecutor, I have gained a lot of experience that I think will benefit the community.”
Currently, Mitchell serves as an assistant special prosecutor for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), as well as section chief and supervisor for the Juvenile Division of the Special Prosecution Unit for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD).
“I've been a prosecutor the entire time I've been a practicing lawyer,” she said. “It's all I know. It's what I love.”
Mitchell has worked in Anderson County for 13 years. Currently, she works within Cherokee, Freestone and Houston counties, but is not working in Anderson while running for office. She officially filed to run on Monday.
Mitchell said she wants to bring justice to Anderson County's citizens who have been violated by crime, whether through something such as burglary or for those affected by substance abuse crimes, as well as those victimized by sexual abuse.
“All these people have been violated, and all these people are important to me,” she said. “There's not an order of importance. They're all victims. You feel violated when someone takes something from you, whether it's innocence or something you own.”
She also underscored her passion to help juveniles chart the right path and has plans to implement programs that would benefit the youth of Anderson County.
“There's a real statewide push to put the burden of dealing with juvenile delinquents solely on the counties, and my job being the section chief statewide for all the juvenile correctional facilities has given me a perspective and an insight on different ways that I can implement programs to help youth who are on the path to end up in TJJD or TDCJ,” she said.
“I would implement different programs hopefully with the cooperation of the juvenile probation office with [Chief Juvenile Probation Ofﬁcer] Emily Lane that would redirect the youth juveniles.”
Mitchell, who earned her bachelor's in history from Tulane University in New Orleans before pursuing a law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston, said she couldn't get home fast enough. In 2001, she went to work for the district attorney's office in Anderson County.
“I love the community. I was born and raised here. And I've been thankful to be able to come back and be around the people I grew up with and know and love.”
Mitchell said she believes her experience as supervisor — through which she has overseen attorneys, paralegals and investigators — has afforded her the skills necessary to serve the citizens of Anderson County.
“I know that a lot of the responsibility of the DA is to have supervisory experience,” Mitchell said, adding that she understands the importance of communication and cooperation with “good people that you can trust and delegate to do the job on your behalf.”
“For me, the prosecutor’s office is not an island. It's not a stand-alone agency. It takes all the neighboring agencies working together in order to make things work,” she said.
“I know that I'll be able to do that because I've been doing it for a long time now.”
Mitchell will be running as a Republican candidate against incumbent Doug Lowe. On running against Lowe, Mitchell said her ideas speak for themselves on how she plans to bring change to the county.
“I believe the office has become stagnant and the fire's gone,” she said. “I can bring the fire back to the office. I want to bring changes that will bring the DA's office and the other agencies together into a positive direction for the citizens of Anderson County.”
Mitchell is currently a member of the Anderson County Bar Association and a former president. She serves on the board of the University of Texas at Tyler Development Community, the Texas Area Fund Foundation and the The Action Fund, where she also serves as charter member. She is a sustaining member of the Palestine Junior Service League and serves on the board of the William Bonner Ingram Golf Scholarship, which was established for a friend of Mitchell's who died in a car accident in 1997 and accrues funds through an annual golf tournament.
She is the daughter of Kathy Mitchell Thomas and Gary Thomas of Palestine and the late Bob Mitchell Jr. of Palestine.
Mitchell said she welcomes feedback from the community and encourages citizens to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Citizens can also follow updates on the campaign at her Twitter handle of Amitchell4da.