Given the opportunity to chime in on how their opponent goes about their responsibilities is something that candidates for the Wharton County District Attorney’s Office focused on when they went face-to-face during the first of two Wharton County GOP Meet the Candidate forums.
There was zeal and passion in the way they expressed themselves against their opponent who sat just feet from them as other candidates were near them. Among them a sheriff, two tax-assessor collector employees, a commissioner – all of them running for office, too.
This was in advance of the Republican Primary next month to represent the party come November. Voters will decide on either incumbent Dawn Allison or her challenger, John Maher.
The forums were held one week apart – the first at a restaurant in El Campo which attracted nearly a dozen candidates, most of them for a Wharton County office, and the second inside a church in Wharton, attracting nearly 20 candidates, including those running for statewide and U.S. representative positions.
Some of the things the two candidates agree on is that the D.A.’s office operates through the taxpayers of Wharton County controlled by the Commissioners Court at budget time, and through a Forfeiture Fund. The way the Forfeiture Fund money has been used since Allison became D.A. four years ago is where they have major differences of opinion. Allision has the information from the auditor’s office, he has information he produced during the campaign.
Days after the first forum, both Allison and Maher took to their Facebook pages to continue to tell anyone who would view their videos, why their opponent is not a fit leader for the D.A.
Allison produced a video a day before the second GOP forum in Wharton and said “code of criminal procedures states that the prosecutor’s duty is to seek justice not convictions. You don’t want a bully in the office that all they are worried about is convictions. You want someone who is compassionate and caring that will sit down with victims and be there for them. That’s why experience matters.”
She has been D.A. since 2016.
A month ago, Maher produced a video that explained Allison’s 2019 statistics.
Allison, he said, described it as a success rate. He on the other hand described it as a 33.3 percent conviction rate.
He explains that the D.A. office has 243 convictions, and 163 did jail time. He said 279 felony cases involving sexual assault and drug dealers were dismissed, three cases were tried in two courts, one was for a conviction.
“If this is who you want to be your district attorney, vote for her,” Maher said.
At the first forum, Maher said Allison is “prettier” than he, “sweeter” than he, and “nicer” than he, but “I guaran-damn-tee you, I am meaner than she is and I will try cases.” He admitted that his wife told him to “watch his mouth because those who know me, know I am pretty blunt about what I have to say.”
Allison has continued to say Maher is experienced in civil cases, and he has little experience in criminal cases.
The zeal and the passion exhibited between the two has far outweighed any other Wharton County race as the Primary Election nears its beginning with early voting.
Among the other races are Wharton Sheriff Shannon Srubar against challenger Robert Macek; the tax assessor-collector’s race between Cindy Hernandez, Jessica Schultz and Sarah Hudgins.
There are races for the offices of Commissioners Court precincts 1, 2, and 3; justice of the peace precinct 1.
Don Al Middlebrook, chairperson for the Wharton County Republican Party, said the questions were different from those presented in El Campo. He and Marilyn Sodalak, precinct chair 201, would once again lead the forum.
Among the statewide and national races being decided locally are state’s 85th Congressional District and the 27th U.S. Congressional District.
In the 85th, incumbent Phil Stephenson is being challenged by Abolaji Tijani Ayobami and Robert Boettcher.
In the 27th, Cloud does not have a GOP opponent, but will faceoff in November against a Democratic winner from the March primary.
Voters had a chance to hear candidates at the second GOP forum held at Grace Community Fellowship in Wharton on Tuesday, Feb. 11. For more information on this event, visit the Journal-Spectator Facebook page and website (www.journal-spectator.com).