Incumbent Hampton touts productive court, jail expansion upgrades

Published on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 23:22 - Written by Faith Harper fharper@tylerpaper.com

JoAnn Hampton said she has the proven experience to continue serving as Smith County Precinct 4 commissioner.

Commissioner Hampton, a Democrat, was elected to the Smith County Commissioners Court in January 2003, and is a senior member of the court, serving as judge pro-tem. She also served on the Tyler city council for six years and mayor pro-tem for one year.

She said the current court has been productive.

“We have court that gets along,” she said. “We have not always had that in Smith County. We have been able to get more things done in the last four years than we ever have before. It takes lot of compromise … to get those things done.”

“The fact that I’m the only Democrat on the court doesn’t seem to matter,” Commissioner Hampton said. “We work together to get what is needed for the citizens.”

One of those accomplishments was getting the jail expansion project underway.

“I think the jail that we have now is going to be great,” she said. “We have additional beds, but my main thing is to get an infirmary in there. It saves tax payer dollars if we can do it all in the jail.”

The county also has expanded its technology and offers video visitation for its inmates, as well as moved offices out of the historic Carlton Hotel and put it up for sale.

Looking forward, Commissioner Hampton said she would like to focus on the county’s roads, getting the jail finished and creating a master plan for the county.

“I know there are a lot of complaints about our road and bridge department, but we went into a maintenance mode for a few years,” she said. “We now have people out on those roads.”

She said the county is considering working with a consultant or hiring a county engineer to form a maintenance plan for its road infrastructure.

“(We have) 1,200 miles of roads, and this county is continuing to grow,” she said. “You have more traffic, and it’s important for us to go out and get a real good analysis on our roads.”

Commissioner Hampton said after the roads are analyzed by their condition and frequency of use, the county would be better able to make a plan to address repairs.

“We are transitioning this year to doing road overlays …” she said. “We need to make sure that the highly traveled roads are the first we do.”

Commissioner Hampton said she would like to help create a five-year plan for each of its departments in addition to the plan for road infrastructure.

“(I’d like to) focus on getting our strategic plan done, and how to move forward and make sure our technology is up to date,” she said.

Commissioner Hampton said she has the leadership skills necessary to help guide the county in a positive direction.

“I have the training, the seniority …” she said. “I’ve been there, I’ve done the job for the last three terms and we have managed to make the changes needed in county government. … It’s not about Precinct 4, its about the county as a whole.”