The Leader’s Endorsements for the Local Primary Election

Published 8:21 am Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Orange Leader met with several local candidates for the March 1 Primary.

Each candidate running for County Commissioner was asked the same questions and over all, each showed a concern for growing the county economically and for the county budget. A budget, which in recent years has been in the red but currently, is a zero balance budget, the first in 20 years, according to the Orange County Commissioners Court.

Citizens have shown a desire to have their voice heard as approximately 7,000 voting in the Early Election as of Friday morning.

Deciding who is the best person for the position was not an easy choice as we interviewed each candidate during the endorsement process.

While all, save one, local election is exclusively between Republican candidates, we also choose to endorse a Democrat race. The numbers as the poll show there are Democrats in the county who want to be heard. Without more Democrats on the ballot, only one side is being heard. With approximately 1,000 residents voting thus far in the election, it shows a desire to be heard.

County Commissioner Precinct One

After careful consideration, our choice is Shirley Zimmerman. Shirley exhibits the qualities of one who will dig into the details and look for the waste and frivolous use of resources. Eradicating resource mismanagement is a priority for her. She recognizes the need for financial transparency and the skills to dig into the details. Like her competition, she realizes the assets this community possesses and has the same strong desire for economic development. Her experience as an employee of the Economic Development Corporation should prove to be an asset for the community.

This race is likely to end in a runoff. There are five good choices on the ballot. The others are Johnny Trahan, Ryan Peabody, Gary Hinote and Bobby Manshack.

County Commissioner Precinct Three

Our choice is John Gothia. John has shown an ability to harness resources across a wide spectrum to bring together big events. We need that ability at the County level. John is a communicator, motivator and visionary. He is quick to credit others but his ability to succeed where preparation meets opportunity will beneficial.

His opponent is incumbent, John Banken.

Orange County Sherriff

Our choice is current Sherriff Keith Merritt. Keith recognizes his role and the relationships he must maintain with municipalities within the County. He runs a transparent operation with an open door. He recognizes the need to keep our citizens safe, the need for community involvement and is able to manage department resources within a limited budget.

His opponent is David W. Smith.

Democrat Party Chair

Our choice is current chair Debra Mitchell. Debra is a focused, resourceful and patient person who recognizes the challenges facing the Democrat Party. With the shift in party allegiance in recent years competition has diminished. The county is the worse for it. Elections should not be determined in the Primary. Debra is focused on the local area, local elections and local people. If the Democrat Party is to be resurrected in Orange County she will be the best choice to lead that revival.

Her opponent is Don Brown.

For more information on local candidates, see the Local Election Guide in today’s edition. Republican or Democrat, exercise your right to vote on March 1.