Voters in Precinct 4 got a chance to hear from different candidates during a free forum Tuesday night at the Woodson Center hosted by the Gaven Norris Law Office. Justice of the precinct 4 candidates Elizabeth Baeza, Jesse Porras and Alford Littleton took questions from a moderator as well as a few from the audience.
Savannah Morales, who is running for Ector County’s Precinct 4 commissioner’s seat in the Democratic primary also spoke and took questions at the event. Incumbent Armando Rodriguez did not attend.
Democrat Luke Warford, who is running for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, was also present at the forum.
The primaries will take place on March 1.
Early voting begins Monday and will last until the 25.
The event started with Warford speaking to the audience.
The 32-year-old former Texas Democratic Party staffer is challenging Republican incumbent Wayne Christian.
Warford began the evening by asking how many people in the audience had lost power during last year’s winter storm in February.
“I live in Austin, it got to 30 degrees in my apartment and we had it pretty good compared to a lot of folks during the storm last year,” Warford said. “There were billions of dollars wasted. It comes back to why I’m running. … Fundamentally, one of the main reasons why I’m running for Texas Railroad Commission is I just got frustrated after the grid failure last year. I learned that the Texas railroad commission which regulates the Texas oil and gas industry knew that from the 2011 storm that our gas producers were susceptible to failure if the temperatures got too cold. They could’ve prevented it from happening and they didn’t. They didn’t do their jobs. The result was the grid failure and hundreds of people losing their lives. I’m running for Texas Railroad commission because we need someone who has a vision and who understands from an economic background where our economy comes from and where it’s going and what the future of Texas energy looks like. We need someone who’s going to do everything in their power to keep the lights on.”
Morales is running against Rodriguez, who is running for his fifth term. Morales is seeking her first political office.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know that there’s help out there for them,” Morales said. “We have to be able to provide that. … To me a true leader doesn’t sit on the seat. You have to get off your seat and go and see what your precinct needs. It’s not about budgeting. It’s more than that. You have to lead and get out there. That’s something I want to do. … I want to fight for our precinct.”
One of the questions Morales took was about representation issues and how she plans to fix that.
“I’m a people person,” Morales said. “I love talking to people. I love talking one on one but if we can sit down and talk to the other commissioners and see eye to eye. …. I feel like I’m able to sit there and talk to both parties and negotiate things to do better. I don’t have all the perfect answers but I’m willing to go in there and get what I need to get to improve this precinct.”
The winner of the March election between Morales and Rodriguez will go up against Billy Hall who is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
The rest of the evening then belonged to the Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 candidates.
The Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 race will be a winner-take-all in March since there are no Republican candidates running.
The race will determine who replaces the current Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 Eddy Spivey, who is retiring.
The Justice of the Peace candidates were asked why they were seeking the office.
“The reason is that I have dealt with the community on a one-to-one basis,” Porras said. “I understand about making decisions. I’ve understood that from serving in the Marine Corps. This is something I want to do for community.”
Baeza said this is a position she had dreamed of having.
“When I started my career, Spivey was my neighbor. … I got to work with Spivey as well as the other precincts. I told him I want his seat one of these days. I’m staying true to my word. 21 years has taught me to serve in Precinct 4 … I think I have a great repertoire with the community. I think it’s time to be the judge that they can come to.”
Littleton said he had grown up wanting to serve.
“My experience in business and working with people one on one, I have a passion with treating people fairly,” Littleton said. “That passion has driven me to compete for justice of the peace. I will help you solve that problem. I’ll be available.”
Another question that was asked of the candidates was their experiences and whether that would hurt or help.
None of the Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 candidates have held an elected office before.
“Doing the events and being a part of the community as I have and will continue, the best thing I can do is understand what the community needs,” Porras, who owns Auto Oasis, said.
Baeaza is a Master Peace Officer.
“All that I have dealt with for the last 21 years has prepared me for the job that the justice court deals with on a daily basis,” Baeza said.
Littleton is an Intertek PSI lab technician.
“None of us can talk about our resume as far as JP experience,” Littleton said. “We can rely on life experiences. We’ve all had interesting lives. I can talk about experience where I’ve had to make good and bad decisions. I’ve made decisions that I always thought were fair. You can’t show favoritism. What you can do is have some empathy and resolve some issues. You have to be available and ready to help them. There are so many things that I’ve done that I think have helped me.”