Candidates in the five local contested political races for the March 4 primary election answered questions from community members Thursday during a forum held at the Ben E. Keith Community Room, located at 2019 W. Oak St. in Palestine.
The Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce and KNET 95.7 FM/1450 AM hosted the event. Attendants submitted questions prior to a Q&A session, which were selected from the pool and presented by moderator Gary Richards of KNET 95.7 FM/1450. The event was broadcast live on the radio and online.
Candidates included county judge candidates Robert D. Johnston (incumbent) and James W. Westley; criminal district attorney candidates Doug Lowe (incumbent) and Allyson Mitchell; district clerk candidates Janice Staples (incumbent) and Sue Sessions; county clerk candidates Mark C. Staples and Misty Cross; and county treasurer candidates Rafael Hernandez and Tara Lambright Holliday.
To begin, Richards asked candidates how they were qualified, and why the citizens of Anderson County should trust them to receive and disburse funds for the county.
Hernandez recounted a history in military service over 30 years, as well as managerial experience that included the oversight of more than 100 persons.
“I was responsible for morale workfare and effectiveness of our organization,” he said, referencing corporate experience in Houston.
“I retired from that and came to Palestine, Texas – a place that I love dearly. Here I opened up my own business, and today I manage my business from A to Z. So as you can see, I have experience in the private sector as well as the corporate sector.”
Holliday also recounted experience, noting she had worked in the auditor’s office for the past six years, working her way up to first assistant auditor.
“I work closely with the treasurer’s office,” she said. “I believe that with my knowledge and experience working so closely with the treasure’s office is how I can bring so much to the office.”