Smith County Commissioner Cary Nix has a challenger for the Precinct 2 seat. But heâ€™s earned the Tyler Paperâ€™s endorsement for reelection through his hard work and valuable contributions to the courtâ€™s relatively new spirit of cooperation and competence.
It wasnâ€™t so long ago that the court was seen as a dysfunctional body, incapable of working together or getting anything accomplished on behalf of the community.
But the new court has changed that perception â€” and the reality. A soon-to-be-completed new jail and upgraded county facilities attest to this. Nix has been an integral member of the court, offering his business acumen and his thoughtful consideration of the issues.
COUNTY COURT AT LAW
An open judicial bench is a rare thing â€” elected judges in Texas tend to have long tenures. But even more rare is to have such an outstanding selection of qualified candidates running for such a seat. Thatâ€™s what Smith County enjoys as Republican candidates vie for the County Court at Law, which is being vacated by the retiring Judge Thomas Dunn.
Each of the four candidates for the seat â€” Jason Ellis, Jim Huggler, Mike Patterson and Brent Ratekin â€” would make a fine addition to the countyâ€™s Council of Judges.
All candidates have each shown a heart for community service, and we hope they will continue to bless Smith County with their skills and spirits, no matter who wins.
But of the four, the Tyler Paper endorses Jim Huggler, whose years of experience and legal specializations would make him stand out in any crowd of candidates.
321ST DISTRICT COURT
Incumbent Judge Carole Clark has been in the news in recent months about her courtâ€™s budget, as she saw an uptick of Child Protect Services cases and the county had to bear the cost of attorneys for more abused and neglected children. She maintains there was little she could do about the situation, which she said was brought on by increased use of methamphetamines.
Citing Judge Clarkâ€™s budget problems, and pointing out his own CPA designation, attorney John Jarvis is challenging Judge Clark in the March 4 primary.
Perhaps, however, Jarvis has served a valuable purpose already. Since heâ€™s announced his candidacy, there have been some significant improvements in the 321st District Courtâ€™s efficiency and procedures. Itâ€™s good for incumbents to be challenged from time to time.
Judge Clark is asking voters for another term on the bench. Should she win that term, we hope she will continue to improve her courtâ€™s workings. Those voters who wish to see Clark continue her work can send her back, but those wishing to see a change would have a viable alternative in Jarvis.
Incumbent Matt Bingham is facing his first challenge since being elected in 2004. Again, we feel itâ€™s a positive thing for incumbents to face a challenger. It can cause an office-holder to think about how he runs his department. Thatâ€™s a service challenger Austin Reeve Jackson has provided to the county merely by throwing his hat in the ring.
But Jackson doesnâ€™t offer a compelling reason to unseat the incumbent, particularly in favor of a young attorney who simply doesnâ€™t have the experience with murders, capital murders and other kinds of cases he would be responsible for trying.