Breckenridge Texan

Candidate Profiles for Stephens County Runoff Election

May 14
13:29 2018

Candidate Profiles: Justice of the Peace

Below you’ll find the Candidate Profile Questionnaires that were returned to the Breckenridge Texan by the candidates for the offices of Justice of the Peace and County Commissioner, Precinct 4, listed in the order that they will appear on the Republican Primary Runoff ballot. These are the same profiles that we posted in February before the original Republican Primary Election. At the end of this story is an editor’s note that explains how the questionnaires were distributed, compiled, etc. There are no local candidates on the Democratic Primary Runoff ballot. For more details on the runoff election, click here to read the Breckenridge Texan article.

 


LESLIE BLACKERBY


Leslie Blackerby

Name: Leslie LeBus Blackerby

What office are you seeking? Justice of the Peace

What is your current occupation? College Professor (Mathematics) for Cisco College, Southern New Hampshire University and University of Phoenix

Tell us a little bit about your family. I have been married to Paul Blackerby from Breckenridge for 39 years in April. We have three wonderful kids. They are married and live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Jason and Melinda are in Fort Worth and have an (almost) 7 year old son, Garrett. Ben and Kirsten live in Dallas. Camille and Tye are also in Dallas. They have three kids: Brooks, 6 years old, Clara, three years old and Tate, one year old. Our family includes two precious dogs, Lucy, a border collie and Mia, a shih tzu and one persnickety cat, Patch.

What are your community involvements/civic affiliations?
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Friends of Historic Breckenridge
Breckenridge Library Association
Humane Society
American Heart Association

What is your education/military service? I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Tarleton State University and a Master of Science degree in mathematics from Texas A&M, College Station. I earned the designation of Master Math Teacher with Texas Education Agency in 2007. It is my belief that education is power. I am looking forward to attending as many training schools as I possibly can, both required and non-required.

What training, experiences and characteristics qualify you for this position? I have been active in both secondary and collegiate education as a teacher/professor. I taught at BHS for 24 years and was the Mathematics Department Chairperson for seventeen years where I was responsible for mentoring younger teachers and managing the department’s finances. We have an ongoing tradition of providing calculators to students who need them. This was a daily exercise in organization. I also was the National Honor Society as well as the Student Council Sponsor. In these positions, I required students to do community service. I believe in laying the groundwork of service early in our young people’s lives. I currently teach on the collegiate level and have for several years, both online and Dual Credit classes at BHS. I served as a member of the Vestry at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church for several years. This involved the daily running of the church as well as the finances. As an educator, we trained every year on mental health issues that face our students and what resources are available to them.

As far as my characteristics that will benefit me in office, I am an organized self-starter with experience based common sense and skilled decision making abilities. I will carry these skills into the office and dedicate myself to fairness and honesty.

What do you think are the most critical issues facing the community and what would you do to address them, if elected? There is no doubt that one of the main passions in my life is helping young people. With this in mind, it is my intent to work hand in hand with BISD in the area of truancy, teen court and mentoring. There are wonderful avenues in place that address these issues. I will have an active part in the workings of these avenues. Our youth is our future.

I will work to increase opportunities for community service. This county and its inhabitants have a duty to lend a helping hand to those in need.  My office will work hard to see that needs are met in various and creative ways. Blessed are those who bless others.

I will never allow bias to enter into any ruling I make. Every person should be afforded respect and an unbiased ear. My court will strive to not be hasty in any decision, giving each and every person due process.

Describe an accomplishment of which you are proud and how it helps make you the best candidate for the office? An accomplishment of which I’m proud must be my positive influence on the many students I have been fortunate enough to teach.  I made it an everyday practice to push them to their highest limit and then beyond.  It didn’t win me any popularity contests while in the midst of it, but in the years that followed, I have been contacted by so many former students and thanked for setting the bar so high. As an educator, I had many opportunities to dismiss those students who had a nearsighted vision of the future, both in my regular classroom and also my honors classroom.  I chose to never walk away from a child, until I knew, without a doubt, I had gotten every ounce of try from them.  What a blessing it is to be able to watch young people exceed their hopes and dreams. I am so very proud of the students who walked into my classroom with doubts, and walked out as winners.  As one of my students told me, I have always been firm but fair. This accomplishment will be carried over into my courtroom as I administer my duties.

 


STEVE SPOON


Steve Spoon

Name: Steve Spoon

What office are you seeking? Stephens County Justice of the Peace

What is your current occupation? Pastor at LifeChurch and aviation assembly at R.E. Dye Manufacturing

Tell us a little bit about your family. I have been married to Carey, my wife, for 25 years. We have two children, Caleb (22, senior at Hardin-Simmons Univ.) and Courtney (20, junior at Hardin-Simmons Univ.)

What are your community involvements/civic affiliations? Breckenridge Ministerial Alliance; chaplain at The Open Door; created two program to help mentor youth in Breckenridge – Finishing Strong and FREE Lunch which is cosponsored by The Open Door.

What is your education/military service? I graduated from Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, OK. I attended Tulsa Junior College and Oklahoma State University, majoring in economics and accounting.

What training, experiences and characteristics qualify you for this position? I have been in the ministry for 28 years and have dealt with virtually every family and life crisis during those years. Our family served as missionaries for 15 years. We lived seven years in Suriname, South America and then eight years in South Africa. As a missionary, you must adapt to different cultures, languages and styles of living. I believe those lessons have helped shape me to where I can relate to and find common ground with people from any background. Three key personal characteristics that would qualify me for this position are my positiveness, passion and principled life. We have seen the impact that godly leadership has brought to this office through Michael Roach. I want to continue that and build on it. I am running to make a difference in our community. I will bring a heart of compassion and a common sense approach to every situation. I believe this is a position that not only provides an opportunity to make a great affect in our community, but it is a job that should be done great!

What do you think are the most critical issues facing the community and what would you do to address them, if elected?
Three of the key issues that I will work on if elected are:

  • Mentoring – The greatest resource Stephens County has to offer isn’t gas or oil, but it is great people.  I will start a mentoring program for youth and young adults that connects them with role model volunteers throughout our community.   Our young people have been raised in a largely fatherless generation.  By linking young people to concerned adults, I believe we can change destinies and radically reshape futures.
  • Teen Court – One of the best kept secrets in Stephens County is the work being done through Teen Court.  This program needs to not only continue, but should receive even greater exposure to the public.  My plan is for Teen Court to expand its presence and showcase its potential to surrounding counties.
  • Customer Service – Michael Roach has made customer service a priority during his term by running an office that is welcoming and professional in all of its duties.  I pledge to run an office from the same heart.

Describe an accomplishment of which you are proud and how it helps make you the best candidate for the office?
While living in South Africa, I started a mentoring program with one local school. I actually went to the principal and asked to teach leadership to their 20 worst kids. After two weeks, the school decided we should also teach their leader core. We did this once a week for the school year. The next year, the school asked us to teach the same lessons to every sixth grade class, which was over 200 students. We continued the program for the second year. After the second year, three more schools in our city requested the mentoring program for their schools. Within three years we had a presence in each primary school and made plans to take the program into the high schools. When I say I want to start a mentoring program for our youth and young people, it isn’t some whim. I’ve done this before and seen the great results it can bring.

Candidate Profiles: County Commissioner, Precinct 4


JAMIE WHITLEY


Jamie Whitley

Name: Jamie Whitley

What office are you seeking? County Commissioner Precinct 4

What is your current occupation? I own and operate an oil and gas company and have for the past 21 years.

Tell us a little bit about your family. I have lived in Stephens County my entire life, my parents also reside in Breckenridge, Linda and Randy Whitley.

What is your education/military service? I graduated from Breckenridge High School in 1991. I then attended Cisco Jr. College.

What training, experiences and characteristics qualify you for this position?

  • I have owned and operated (“personally”) heavy equipment for over 28 years.
  • I have owned and operated an oil and gas company for the past 21 years. I’ve managed the payments of Royalty to interest owners and managed lease-operating expenses.
  • I have ranch management experience; I have owned and operated my own ranch properties.
  • I listen well, and that has served me well in making sound decisions.

What do you think are the most critical issues facing the community and what would you do to address them, if elected?

  • To ensure county roads are consistently well maintained for safety and ease of travel.
  • Work with law enforcement to provide necessary funding to clean up our county and protect our citizens.
  • To be a voice of reason and develop a “Team” mentality in working relationships with our county and city leaderships.
  • To be responsive to not only the people in my precinct, but to assist my fellow commissioners in helping all of Stephens County residents.
  • Having ran my own business for over 20 years, I want to bring my business skills that I have learned through not only living on a budget, but to manage a budget successfully for the entire county
  • Manage expenses: Analyze immediately precinct expenses for fast simple cost saving measures.
  • Actively research grant money opportunities to manage expense stability without passing cost to tax payer.
  • Response time, I will make myself available to the citizens of our community in a prompt manner and address the problems that arise.

Describe an accomplishment of which you are proud and how it helps make you the best candidate for the office?

  • I believe my leadership and management style will bring the necessary morale boost with county workers that is always welcomed.
  • I’m approaching this position as a full time job, fully focused on the needs of the precinct and county.
  • I will work with the other commissioners and county judge to make wise financial decisions for the taxpayers of the city and county.
  • Making myself available for the needs of the public.

ERIC O’DELL


Eric O’Dell

Name: Eric O’Dell

What office are you seeking? Stephens County Commissioner, Precinct 4

What is your current occupation? I am currently employed with Stephens County, Precinct 4, and have been for the last 32 years.

Tell us a little bit about your family. For 35 years, I have been married to an amazing woman, Mary. We have made Stephens County our home for all of those thirty-five years. Together, we have faced many obstacles but have overcome them all. We have raised two sons, Dustin and Dillon. We have had the pleasure of watching both our sons graduate from Tarleton State University.

What are your community involvements/civic affiliations? Member of Texas Cattle Raisers Association

What is your education/military service? I graduated from Woodson High School in 1977 and attended Cisco Junior College.

What training, experiences and characteristics qualify you for this position? I have made a career of working for Stephens County. I know how to operate and maintain all county-owned equipment. During my years of working for the county, I have attended many hours of safety training meetings at TSTC Breckenridge, and have also received my pesticide applicator license.

I know the laws pertaining to working between private land owners and county road ways. I believe this is a considerable advantage over my opponents.

I have been involved with farming and ranching my entire life. I know the importance of working and staying within a budget. I will use that knowledge to put my budgeted funds to good use while maintaining roads in Precinct 4.

As your Stephens County Commissioner, I will use my combined knowledge, of all the areas in which I have experience, to make the best decisions for the county. I will place the interest of the county and its residents first and foremost.

What do you think are the most critical issues facing the community and what would you do to address them, if elected? The most critical issue that I have discussed with the people of Precinct 4 is road repair. I will address those issues while staying within my limited budget. My extensive experience gained while working for Stephens County will be used to perform those repairs.

The county budget and taxes are also a very important issue on everyone’s mind. With the low oil prices, the county has much less tax money to work with. Until the jail debt is paid off in 2023, all officials will have less money to work with. I will work with other elected officials and members of commissioner’s court to have a budget that allows each department to perform their duties while trying to keep the tax rate low.

Citizens deserve a completely open, transparent, and ethical county government. I will listen to your concerns and be your voice.

Describe an accomplishment of which you are proud and how it helps make you the best candidate for the office? I believe my greatest accomplishment is my family. I know what it takes to care for others. I know how to listen, and how to make decisions for the betterment of those around me. I know the hard work it takes to be successful. I am always looking for new ideas and better, more efficient, and cost-effective ways of completing tasks. I have strong work ethics, expecting myself and those around me to do the best they can do. Over the past thirty-two years I have experienced and feel I have a good understanding of what is required to function efficiently as a commissioner. I would be proud to serve as your County Commissioner.


Editor’s Note:

Each candidate in a contested Stephens County race in the 2018 Primary Election was contacted by phone and was presented with a list of questions via email or U.S. Postal Service or in person, depending on the candidate’s ability to receive the questions.

All of the questionnaires were exactly the same. We asked the following questions:

  • Name:
  • What office are you seeking?
  • What is your current occupation?
  • Tell us a little bit about your family.
  • What are your community involvements/civic affiliations?
  • What is your education/military service?
  • What training, experiences and characteristics qualify you for this position?
  • What do you think are the most critical issues facing the community and what would you do to address them, if elected?
  • Describe an accomplishment of which you are proud and how it helps make you the best candidate for the office?

The candidates also were asked to provide the Breckenridge Texan with a photograph.

If a candidate’s profile does not include a specific question, it is because they didn’t answer that question.

The only editing we did was to run a basic spell-check on the files and to put the questionnaires in a standard format.

If you have any questions about the profiles or our procedure, please send an email to:
news@breckenridgetexan.com.

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