By Lindsay Starr Platt, Correspondent
The Central Texas Tea Party hosted a forum on Tuesday night at Tenroc Ranch in Salado. More than 70 people were in attendance to hear what the candidates had to say on various issues.
The forum was hosted for three positions to be filled and the following candidates participated: Bell County Sheriff: Eddy Lange (incumbent), Fred Churchill, and Frank Hernandez.
Bell County Commissioner Precinct. 1: Richard Cortese (incumbent), Michael Moon, and Russell Schneider.
Bell County Commissioner Precinct. 3: Bill Schumann (incumbent) and Harry Macey III.
A meet and greet social was held before the forum. Afterwards the candidates were split in two groups. The groups were those running for county commissioner and those running for sheriff. The first topic was an introduction of themselves and what they have to offer the voters.
Questions asked to the county commissioner candidates were: What is your definition of being conservative? Russell Schneider answered, “Taxpayer’s money is like your money. It’s real money. If you don’t have it to spend, don’t spend it. Don’t spend the money before you get it.” Richard Cortese replied, “How much the government imposes its values on the citizens. A broad based view of what we are doing.”
What is your view on the indebtedness of Bell County, yet the county has plans for a bond for the expansion of the Bell County Expo Center? Michael Moon answered, “At this time I don’t believe we need that building. They should take care of debt first.” Richard Cortese said, “If we don’t expand it, we will not be able to have large events there. It is too small. A 1,000 seat arena is proposed and future shows will generate more money.” Harry Macey III replied, “Debt is part of life. Bell County is very strong and… growing.”
Do you currently or would you do future business with the county that would be a conflict of interest? All candidates answered no except, Harry Macey III. Macey is co-owner of Perry Office Plus and has current contracts with the county, but does not believe they will be a concern. Harry Macey III answered, “All of the business I do for the county is on a state contract. I made calls …. Talked to the Ethics Commission. I do not believe there is a conflict.”
In view of the Second Amendment rights, should we ban guns in anyplace that has a courthouse? Why don’t you trust law-abiding citizens? Do you support that ban? Why or why not? Russell Schneider commented, “I support the Second Amendment very strongly. But, why not err on the side of caution. Not test the system, make sure we get the law straight.” Bill Schumann said, “The Texas Supreme Court building is a premises you cannot carry a weapon onto.”
The county commissioner candidates closed their forum with closing remarks.
The three sheriff candidates were next to answer the forum questions. The candidates introduced themselves before moving on to the questioning.
Questions asked to the sheriff candidates were: What do you see as the greatest challenge of law enforcement in Bell County? Frank Hernandez stated, “Good comes with the bad, as the population grows. Our office is one of the best in the state. It is going to be tough and keeping crime at a minimum.” Eddy Lange said, “The best services for the lowest cost possible for Bell County. Our population has tripled in the last 20-30 years. Bring the citizens the best service we can for the best price.”
Indigent and vagrant people come into our county. What about the cost of incarcerating these people? Fred Churchill answered, “Our commissioners court has done a great thing of the indigent health care. If you don’t help them, they start hurting the citizens. Help these people and move them on their way. They will commit crimes just to have a warm place to stay and meals. Get them some help. We do not want what you see in Austin to happen in Bell County. Eddy Lange remarked, “They do not need to be in jail. They are here, they get out and they come back. A divergent program is needed to capture these special people. 104 individuals have been diverted in two years. One at a time.”
All sheriff candidates agreed on needing more magistrates in Bell County, the sanctity of human life, that marriage is only between a man and a woman and the stopping of illegal immigration. Closing remarks ended the forum for the sheriff candidates and the entire forum was over for all candidates.