County Judge Candidates Face Off - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/16/06-Tyler

County Judge Candidates Face Off

Candidates across East Texas are stepping up campaigns for the March 7th primaries. And Thursday, the two candidates in one of Smith County's most contested races were getting their message to the people in a public forum.

"I'll focus on being more responsive and accountable for all the citizens of Smith County," said county judge candidate Joel Baker. Baker is a lawyer and he runs his own business.

"My goal would be to bring the leadership that I think is needed to bring the county forward," county judge candidate Gene Shull. Shull is a businessman.

At the Republican women's event, a number of public officials attended, including County Judge Becky Dempsey. She asked the candidates about one of the most pivotal issues facing smith county. "If the price is higher for a downtown jail, would you still support a downtown jail?" asked Judge Dempsey. "If it means looking at other places and other options because it's more cost-effective then I'm all for that," answered Shull. "I support the downtown jail and I stand by that. I believe from the people that I've talked to that it can be done cost effectively and there are many other reasons to keep it there," said Baker.

For Smith County resident, Ann Bennett, the forum provided a way for her to decide who's getting her vote. "I have made up my mind now," said Bennett. Sharon Guthrie says she knew who she'd be voting for before the event. "I pretty much know where each of the candidates stand and their philosophy of government so I knew before I came who I'd be supporting in the elections," said Guthrie.

Late this afternoon, Tyler Mayor Joey Seeber announced he's endorsing Gene Shull for the post. Texas Senators Kevin Eltife and Todd Staples have also endorsed Shull for the position. Joel Baker has been endorsed by Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith and District Attorney Matt Bingham.

Powered by Frankly