We invited the candidates in a couple of primary runoffs with big implications to answer one broad question: what do you think are the three biggest issues in this campaign?
Mark Conlee, a Republican running for Brazos County judge, said these are the biggest issues on his mind:
ISSUE #1: Experience
"The county judge is like the CEO of the county. He's chairman of the board. He's chief budget officer. You need somebody with experience in that job, who's got the business experience, that has run businesses, and I have that experience. I sat beside the mayor for three years. My opponent has sat beside the county judge for seven years. Sitting beside those positions does not create experience at those positions. When I moved over 24 inches into that middle chair, it was a huge difference. Now you have lead. You have to formulate policy. You're the guy where the buck stops here. You don't get that experience sitting next to the judge or next to the mayor."
ISSUE #2: Budget
"I think the budget and the economy are a huge issue for us now.
"You have to cut back, and we watch it closely. That's what needs to be happening at the county. County's added $70-80 million worth of debt recently. More county buildings...and that means more maintenance in those buildings and more employees to fill it up, those kind of things. Maybe all those were worthwhile projects, but maybe we should have spread them out over a few years and not done them all clumped up here at one time."
ISSUE #3: Courthouse Culture
"Every department should be looking at ways to save money. They should be looking at ways to improve service, to use technology better. There's all these ways that private business has to do that the county should be looking at doing also. The culture now is "if we don't do it, we won't spend any money, and that'll be good because we didn't spend the money." I'll go back to that you've got to invest in your future every year whether you're a family or a city or a county or whatever you are. If you're not investing in your future, you're not going to like your future in a few years. We've got to continue investing in these kind of things. We've got to create this culture where people are striving to do the best they can do, but that's got to start to at the top."
Video of the full answers can be viewed above.
Conlee, the mayor of Bryan, is facing Duane Peters in the GOP runoff. The winner will face independent Doug O'Brien. No Democrats are running for the office, and Republican incumbent Randy Sims decided against seeking another term.