The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

February 22, 2014

Candidates discuss issues at recent political forum



Staples said she had built up 440 hours of continuing legal education over the past 12 years and that her experience as district clerk spoke for itself.



Turning his attention to county judge candidates, Richards asked incumbent Johnston why he wanted to remain in the position.

“To continue what I’ve accomplished in the first four years I’ve been in office,” Johnston said, “and just to continue making Anderson County a better place for us to live.”

As evidence of these accomplishments, Johnston pointed to a stabilized budget and boost in area economic development since he took office.

“We have brought our budget back up to where it should be, and we’re very proud of that,” Johnston said, referencing a deficit during the first two years of his term.

Johnston said he had saved the county money through the renegotiation of an electric contract and the rebidding of insurance, and had increased the county’s tax base by bringing in two large companies that in turn enhanced the workforce.

“We’ve brought over 1,000 jobs to Anderson County,” he said. “That’s my priority, with your tax dollars… bringing in new business and new industries. We’ve been able to add over $1 million to our general fund.”

Richards then asked Westley why he wanted to be elected as county judge.

“Having been an elected official for the past 15 years, I’ve had the ability to see issues the county has from the inside out,” Westley said. “There’s no way you can understand fully what a job entails until you’re actually in that position. But our county, right now, is running at a mediocre process, where it could be doing much better.”

Westley said one way to be “doing better” is to increase benefits for county employees – “our greatest assets.”

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