Early voting runs through May 25 for the May 29 Denton County Primary Election and The Cross Timbers Gazette asked Republican candidates in contested races in our area to answer a short questionnaire to help you make an informed decision at the polls. Here are their responses:
Denton County Sheriff
Benny Parkey (I)
City/Town of Residence: Krum
Current Occupation: Denton County Sheriff
Education: University of North Texas, Masters Peace Officers Certification from Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? I am a member of the Plainview Baptist Church. I have been on the board of the Denton County United Way, the board of The Heroes of Denton County. I was a founding member of the Denton Optimist Karate Club. I have been a life Member of the NRA for over 45 years.
Why should you be re-elected? Since my election my administration has brought about more training for the employees and increased the level of professionalism. We started an in-house Law Enforcement Academy which has graduated over 100 employees allowing them to become certified peace officers. We have a nationally recognized Drug Enforcement Unit works with all other agencies to fight the scourge of drug use in Denton County. We increased the Seizure Fund from the money seized from drug dealers from $80,000.00 to $2 million. This money is used for training and equipment that does not have to be paid of by Denton County Taxpayers. I am proud of the fact that the Denton County Sheriff’s Office is a progressive office and is looking to the future.
What are the main challenges facing the county, and how would you resolve them? One of the main challenges is the increase in population and addressing the needs of the citizens. We are working with the unincorporated areas such as the water districts where there is a dense population and Denton County is responsible for law enforcement services. We have developed a working relationship with the boards of these entities and have contracted with some of them for an increase in law enforcement services. This is a cooperative effort that increases the safety of those who live in these districts. Another major issue due to the growth of the County is the Denton County Jail. We have seen an increase in the numbers of inmates and we are mandated by the state not to exceed 90% of the available bed space. We currently have 1400 beds and when we reach 1260 inmates we have to send the inmates out of county. We saw this need years ago and included a new jail in a bond package passed in 2008. We are soon to begin construction on that facility. I am proud of the staff and officers of the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.
William B. Travis
City/Town of Residence: Copper Canyon/Argyle – We are considered Argyle because our zip code is for Argyle
Current Occupation: Businessman
Education Level: Bachelor of Public Administration
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong: Cross Timbers Community Church, Argyle Volunteer Firefighter, AQHA, APHA, Texas Stampede Executive Board Member
Why should you be elected? I am the only candidate that posses both a business and law enforcement background. I have been with the Dallas Police Department, The United States Drug Enforcement Administration, The United States Coast Guard and The United States Air Force. Additionally, I own two very successful businesses here in Denton County. The Sheriff’s office has an enormous budget, and it’s critical that we have someone in office with the experience in business that it takes to eliminate waste and inefficiency and safeguard, not only the families of Denton County, but their tax dollars as well.
What are the main challenges facing the county, and how would you resolve them? Our current budget for the Sheriff’s Department is over $43 million. That is a $5 million increase over the past 5 years. Over the last 10 years crime is up 43%, violent crimes are up 35%, and 34 minutes a person is a victim of a crime here in Denton County. We’re spending more and getting less for our money. As Sheriff, I will create a interdiction unit on I-35 which will stops the elicit drugs coming through Denton County and seize the narcotic proceeds returning back to the Mexican border. This money will allow us to create more units to combat crime. I will also create an I-Tac Unit to combat Internet crimes against children. Our Sheriff’s Department does not currently use this system, even though it is free for law enforcement through the state. Our county has grown by over 200,000 people over the last 10 year and our Sheriff’s Department needs to meet the new challenges that have arisen because of it.
Website: www.WilliamBTravis.com, Facebook: William B. Travis, Twitter: williambtravis1
Sheriff Candidate Jesse Flores did not respond to our questionnaire.
Denton County Tax Assessor/Collector
City/Town of Residence: Ponder
Current Occupation: Chief Deputy to Denton County Tax Assessor/Collector
Education: Licensed Tax Assessor/Collector since 1999
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Member- Northview Baptist Church, Krum Kiwanis Club, Denton Republic Women’s Club and numerous Republican Clubs, Autism Society, Ponder Lady VIP and National Association of Professional Women
Why should you be elected? With nearly 29 years of experience in the Tax Office, I have practical experience in the daily operation of the office and understand the tremendous responsibility this position requires. The citizens of Denton County deserve to have an experienced, qualified and prepared Tax Assessor who is ready to immediately step into the position. I am constantly mindful that it is your tax dollars that we are entrusted with and I take that responsibility very seriously. I also understand the challenges faced by numerous laws, limited staffing and tight budgets. However I believe it is our duty to serve our citizens with the highest level of service, integrity and efficiency and will work tirelessly to meet and exceed your expectations.
What are the main challenges facing the county, and how would you resolve them? The Tax Office has provided online services for tax payments and registration renewals for over 10 years. Legal restrictions will not allow for title transfers to be performed online. With that being said, a challenge is serving a growing county with resources that are limited due to the tight economy, particularly with regard to motor vehicle services. So we have to be proactive and creative in how we serve our customer base. I’ll launch community outreach programs to better inform our taxpayers of general rules guiding the types of transactions we handle. I’ll be working with area businesses to try to bring more registration renewal locations to our customers. We are also working on providing payment options to taxpayers. We are in the final phase of offering the ability to escrow property taxes.
We are investigating providing payment options by Wire and ACH transfers directly to the Tax Office. With our expanded technology, we are able to offer more services today than ever before. We’re looking forward to the different options we’ll be able to provide our taxpayers with little or no impact to the budget.
City/Town of Residence: Denton
Current Occupation: Senior Property Tax Professional
Education: MPA – Masters of Public Administration, Local Government Finance – UNT, BBA – Bachelors of Business Administration, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate – UNT
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Member, Denton Bible Church, Member, Rotary International, 1st Lieutenant – US Air Force Aux. Civil Air Patrol, Precinct Chair – Denton County Republican Party Executive Committee
Why should you be elected? I believe that Denton County deserves to have a better run, more efficient Tax Office; that provides professional customer service, and utilizes 21st century technology, so you can be “online, not in-line”. Denton County is becoming a very complex county, and it will be important that the Tax Assessor have not only experience, but the education to prepare them to serve the citizens of Denton County. I am the only candidate in this race that has both the education and experience to lead Denton County into the future using technology.
What are the main challenges facing the county, and how would you resolve them? Denton County has over 600,000 residents today. In the near future, we will have over 1 million residents. We need to begin preparing for that growth now, not just waiting for a crisis to occur and then be forced to make poor choices that will cost the citizens more in the long run. I propose we do this by utilizing technology properly; to create a customer focused, user friendly, and convenient environment for our customers. Just simply stating that “we got a website” is not enough. Websites need to be intuitive and user friendly, so that our customers can easily find what they need, and get things done in a simple, convenient manner.
Judge of the 16th Judicial District Court
Derbha H. Jones
City/Town of Residence: Sanger
Current Occupation: Attorney/owner of Solo Practice Law firm since 2002
Education: Licensed by State Bar of Texas: May 2002, Law Degree (Dec. 2001): Texas Wesleyan School of Law, Trained in Basic and Family Law Mediator (2003) El Centro College, B.S Degree in Radiologic Technology; Northeast La. University (1984)
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Member of the Galilee Baptist Church, Member of National Association of Counsel for Children, Member of National Guardianship Association, Special Olympics volunteer, Present Board Member of Denton Disproportionality Committee, Past Board member of Denton CASA
Why should you be elected? I am the best candidate to serve as Judge of the 16th District Court due to my experience in jury and non-jury trials, representing clients in over 400 cases within the county. In the past seven years, my Family Law and CPS trial experience far exceeds that of my opponent who has little to no recent family law, CPS, or criminal trial experience. I’m also knowledgeable in Criminal Law and criminal procedures. My opponent is married to a current Denton District Judge, and I believe the Denton County population of over 662,000 deserves an option for Judge based on experience and not on name alone.
What are the main challenges facing your district, and how would you resolve them? The challenges facing the District Courts are the number of cases pending and how efficiently the cases are handled when brought before the Court. The 16th District Court is a general jurisdiction court which hears cases that include Family Law, CPS, Child Custody, Murder and other matters. Statistics show that there are three times more Family Law Cases pending in the Denton District Courts than criminal cases. As an attorney with extensive Family law, CPS and Child Custody experience, there are several processes that I would like to implement to assist the court in handling the Family Law Cases reviewed and to reduce cost to taxpayers. If I’m elected I would require attorneys to exchange certain documents prior to appearing in court and require that hearings set for temporary orders be presented in a predefined time frame. This would allow the court to handle matters more efficiently freeing up the court resources to handle more cases throughout the year. In addition I would require that any agreement reached in matters set for jury trials, be presented to the court several weeks before trial date if possible to save the taxpayer money and time by alleviating unnecessary jury duty summons being mailed.
City/Town of Residence: Denton
Current Occupation: Attorney
Education: University of North Texas, B.A. Political Science, minor English, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, Juris Doctorate
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Greater Denton Arts Council, Denton Benefit League, The Arts Guild (Denton), Leadership Denton alumni, Denton Republican Women’s Club, Flower Mound Republican Club, Lewisville Area Republican Women’s Club, The Village Church (Denton).
Why should you be elected? The 16th District Court is a trial court and has jurisdiction over criminal, family and civil matters. Having tried 60-70 jury trials—primarily as lead counsel and in Denton County—my experience and knowledge of Denton County, its courts, and this community is invaluable. I have been practicing law for close to 13 years and am a former Assistant Criminal District Attorney in Denton County (2001-2004). Before and after serving as a prosecutor, I was in private practice in the area of civil litigation. As a prosecutor and in private practice I have tried child custody jury trials and parental termination cases where children have been abused. My experience is directly relevant to the work a district court handles on a daily basis and that, coupled with my experience as a managing partner in a busy law firm for the past 5 years, makes me uniquely qualified to be the next judge of the 16th District Court.
What are the main challenges facing your district, and how would you resolve them? Denton County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. With the growth more criminal, family law and civil cases are filed in the district courts. Being able to efficiently and effectively manage these cases with current staffing and without increasing the budget is a challenge for each district court. I will work hard to assure that court time is used efficiently to move cases through the system quickly. I will make sure that cases are not allowed to remain on the docket without a plan for disposition of those cases– whether through trial settings or alternative dispute resolution processes. I will make sure that attorneys understand that cases must be tried in a timely manner.
Denton County Constable, Precinct 3
City/Town of Residence: Lewisville
Current Occupation: Peace Officer / Contractor Dept. of Homeland Security
Education: Graduate Lewisville High School, Some College, Advanced Law Enforcement Training
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Member St. Phillips Catholic Church, Conservative Toastmasters, Young Republicans of Greater Denton County, C.A.S.A, Texas Sheriff’s association, National Sheriff’s Association, North Texas Justice of the Peace and Constable’s Association and The Masonic Lodge.
Why should you be elected? I will bring fresh ideas and a new philosophy to the office that will reflect the growth of Denton County. I will re-direct the office into a Community Oriented Policing Agency. In addition I will do more then the legislatively mandated duties of the Constable, I will implement a program that involves mentoring the students of the LISD: Truancy Enforcement, which is not offered by the current administration. I will actively participate in severing outstanding Arrest warrants would result in returning unpaid fines and revenue owed to the Citizens of Denton County.
What are the main challenges facing your precinct, and how would you resolve them? Open Records revealed Pct 3 currently houses over 1543 active warrants. In addition 37 actual arrests have been made by the current administration in the last 3 years. I will be a working Constable that shows up everyday in uniform and actively participates in the day to day operations of my office. My staff and I will be available to the community and to fellow Law Enforcement organizations within my jurisdiction.
Website: www.minoff4constable.com, Facebook: Minoff4constable
Jerry Raburn (I)
City/Town of Residence: Lewisville
Current Occupation: Denton County Constable Pct. # 3
Education: High School Diploma, some college hours, Master Peace Officers License,
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Lakeland Baptist Church. I am not currently involved in civic activities, although I have been extensively in the past.
Why should you be re-elected? I should be re-elected because I have the experience, life experiences and integrity to do the job. I have a wonderful staff. We follow the law and always follow our court orders. We are professionals. We are all dedicated to the county, to our department and to the people we serve.
What are the main challenges facing your precinct, and how would you resolve them? The main challenge is the budget and finding ways to stay within the budget but to cut costs every way we can and still be effective. Personnel will always be a challenge because every time you loose someone you have not only lost a trained individual but then you have to train someone else to take his or her place. Thankfully, I do not lose people very often.
Website: www.constableraburn.com, Facebook: Constable Jerry Raburn
Denton County Constable, Precinct 4
City/Town of Residence: Roanoke
Current Occupation: Chief Deputy Constable, Denton County Constable Precinct 4
Education: Arlington Council of Governments Police Academy, University of Texas Arlington-Business Administration, Tarrant County College N.E. Campus Aviation Maintenance & Technology-Liberal Arts Associates, Advanced Licensed Peace Officer, Aircraft Power Plant license, Certified Accident Investigator, 4000 TCLEOSE Hours –Advanced
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Cross Timbers Community Church, Member & Participant in TX Justice of Peace & Constables Association, Local & State Fraternal Order of Police, The Texas Patriot Guard Assisting in the escorting of Fallen Soldiers to their appointed destinations, Meals On Wheels, Roanoke Food Pantry, Flower Mound Senior Citizen Center, Friends of the Family, Presbyterian Children’s Home
Why should you be elected? I have built my reputation based on being readily available to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have worked hard to protect and serve the people of Denton County, and I do not limit this service based merely on precinct boundaries to go above and beyond to help a family or a child in need. I will strive to only expand my service if elected. Since 2004 Constable Hatzenbuhler has allowed me full control of the day to day operations during which time I have established myself as a proven and qualified leader and I have the distinct honor of the full endorsement of the longest tenured Constable In Denton County history.
What are the main challenges facing your precinct, and how would you resolve them? Precinct 4 has always been fiscally conservative, working within established parameters of the fiscally conservative Denton County Commissioners Court. Deputies within Precinct 4 have in actuality voluntarily provided monetary compensation for fuel usage during periods of off duty police assignments, which assist in providing a heightened measure of safety and security to the community. I have worked closely with Denton County Officials and their efforts for a combined law enforcement facility within precinct 4, having just recently approved he final plans for the Constables Office within said facility. I have enjoyed helping pioneer said project with Commissioner Andy Eads providing whatever support necessary. The working relationship between our office and the Justice of the Peace has always mirrored a co-operative, personal and highly efficient partnership. The hardships as a result of declining budget resources will make it necessary to be even more conscious of maintaining the established conservative operations of precinct 4 and always providing for training required for officer safety and education.
City/Town of Residence: Argyle, 16 1/2 years
Current Occupation: Investigator-Denton County District Attorney – 15 years
Education: Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Criminal Justice-Midwestern State University-1986, 25 years Law Enforcement experience-Master Peace Officer 1999- 3900 Training hours
To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Active Member Argyle United Methodist Church and Men’s Group; Volunteer Ranch Hand Rescue; Past Master-Boliver Masonic Lodge; Member Fort Worth Valley Scottish Rite; Eagle Scout-Boy Scouts of America
Why should you be elected? I should be elected because I have the experience to deal with the citizens of Denton County. I will be available and accountable, which is something that has been non-existent. If the current administration is allowed to continue, waste and abuse will continue. I will be a steward of the trust and tax dollars of the people. Money needs to be saved by such things as not allowing employees to work out-of-county, off-duty jobs in county vehicles or while on county time. Cuts also need to be made on budget items such as getting fuel efficient vehicles, not getting 2 new, just approved, Tahoes, which cannot be justified. Of my 19 years in Denton County, I worked 4 years at the Sheriff’s Office in the civil division, which I very much enjoyed, due to the technical nature and time constraints that are inherent in civil process service. The past 15 years I have worked for the District Attorney. I have been involved in every aspect of criminal cases. I know how to deal with the public in a direct and professional manner.
What are the main challenges facing your precinct, and how would you resolve them? I feel that the biggest challenge facing me is that, once elected, I must be a budget advocate. With the economy as it is, the money saving needs to start on the local level. Even in good times, the public officials should be frugal. This is why the public puts the trust in an elected official. Even if we can not completely control Washington, we should start locally.
Click here for more information about the May 29 Primary Election.