Political forum held at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame

Local candidates and representatives speaking for state candidates spoke at a political forum held Monday, February 1 at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage. Each candidate had three minutes for an introductory talk, 30 seconds to answer questions from the audience, and three minutes to summarize after the question-and-answer session.
Linda Lawless, Chair of the Panola County Republicans, welcomed the group and introduced Butch Marsalis, who served as Moderator for the evening’s speeches.
 Marsalis introduced himself as a member of both the Panola County Republicans and the Panola County Conservatives. He explained the rules for the evening, noting that there would be no debating during the question-and-answer period, just 30-second questions and 30-second answers. Marsalis also explained the absence of the four candidates for the District 1 State Senate seat – a previously scheduled forum in Longview. Two of the candidates had representatives present who spoke on their behalf.
First to speak were the representatives for candidates running for the District 1 State Senate seat. Michael Bullock spoke on behalf of candidate David Simpson, “One thing really sums up David Simpson and his beliefs. He believes in liberty and limited government; if you haven’t harmed your neighbor, the government needs to get out of the way.” Bullock went on to state that David Simpson is a unique individual, not one who ‘goes along to get along.’ He averred that Simpson is a statesman, not a politician, and a man who sincerely wants to do what is right, in the right way.
Dr. Dennis Golden represented Bryan Hughes, another candidate for District 1 State Senate seat. Dr. Golden said that he was proud to speak for Bryan Hughes, saying that Hughes was a “wonderful person who would make a fine State Senator for District 1.”
Next on the agenda were the three candidates for 123rd District Court Judge. Attorney Mike Parker was the first to speak, stating, “Whoever you elect as Judge for the 123rd District Court will preside over that court, and it is a very important court. The leadership that is provided or not provided by that judge will set the tone. For law enforcement in this county, it will set the tone for the safety of the citizens of the county. It will also set the tone for the rights of the citizens’ rights in the district.” Parker shared that he had been an attorney for 34 years, arguing cases in both the criminal and civil courts.
LeAnn Rafferty was the second to introduce herself and her qualifications for the office of 123rd District Judge. “I am a Republican and a true Conservative,” she began. “I’m a proud sixth-generation resident of East Texas and I am proud to have returned here to raise my two children…Briefly I’m going to share with you the reasons I’m running for this position and the reasons I’m qualified.” Rafferty said that after law school, she worked for an appellate court in which she worked with nine justices, offering opinions, reviewing trial court judgments and rulings in both the civil and criminal context. Rafferty continued, “That gave me the experience and skills I needed to practice trial law, and now I can use those skills to be a good judge…I have the academic and professional skills to serve as your District [123rd] Judge.” Ms. Rafferty is 37 years old.
Moderator Marsalis then introduced the incumbent candidate for 123rd District Court Judge, Judge Charles “Brick” Dickerson. He began by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am the present District Judge. I have three minutes. The two previous candidates each got three minutes, so I feel I should have six; but I’m not going to get it. I don’t talk as fast as they do, either…I’m a lifelong resident of the county, and I practiced law for 39 years and 3 months before taking the bench.” Dickerson informed the audience that he had tried every kind of case in his career, from a dog fight to a capital murder.
The following candidates for county offices then spoke, some of whom were running unopposed: Bobbie Davis for County Clerk; Kevin Lake for Sheriff; Debbie Crawford for Tax Assessor/Collector; two candidates for Precinct 1 Commissioner – Ronnie Lagrone and Pete Commiato; three candidates for Precinct 3 Commissioner – Frank R. Langley, Jr., Carlton Wall, and Craig M. Lawless; and Bryan Murff, who was running unopposed for Constable, Precincts 1 and 4, was in the audience, but declined to speak.
A short question and answer period followed.
By Col

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