Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Precinct 2 candidates talk experience, serving public

The three Republican candidates for Precinct 2 constable touted their long experience in law enforcement as reasons voters should elect them in the March 4 primary races.

The candidates, incumbent Jeremiah Gunter and challengers David C. Bailey and Harold Hass, are running for the Republican nomination. Because no Democrats are running for local offices, the winner of the primary will run unopposed in the November general election.

Last week, the Orange County Republican Party held a public forum at Mauriceville Elementary School with the candidates so the public could get to know them. Questions were submitted before the forum and candidates were given the questions.

A similar forum for the four Republican candidates for Orange County sheriff will be this Thursday, February 8, 6:30 p.m. at Little Cypress Elementary School, 5723 Meeks Drive in Orange. Candidates are incumbent Jimmy Lane Mooney, who is seeking his second four-year term. He is being challenged by veteran law officers Ron Dischler, Mike Sanchez, and Bobby Smith.

In Precinct 2 Gunter is finishing his first four-year term in the office. He said he moved to Mauriceville with his parents when he was a child in 1986. He has 23 years of law enforcement experience.

Hass said he and his wife moved to Orange County 48 years ago when he took a job with the Orange Police Department. He is now in his 70s and has also worked for the Orange County Sheriff's Office under different sheriffs and has years of training. He has never held public office before. Records show he has previously run for office, including the constable's position.

Bailey said he has been in the Mauriceville area for more than 60 years with he and his children graduating from the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School. He has served in various positions in the Orange County Sheriff's Office through the years, including serving as chief deputy, an administrative position.

Records also show Bailey has run for public office in the past and won a seat on the Orange City Council three years ago. He has not filed for reelection to that spot and his term expires in May.

On a question concerning the roles of a constable in Texas, Bailey said the constable serves as bailiff for the precinct's justice of the peace court and serves papers for the JP court. The constable also works patrol, does traffic stops, helps in school ones and works with all other law enforcement agencies. He said he is retired and will not need to take outside jobs. However, as constable, he can take on extra pay to work for security at events like football games or provide funeral escorts.

Hass said Orange County has full-time, not part-time constables and he will be a full-time constable. He will quit his construction job in Beaumont if elected and work more than 40 hours a week to the constable's work.

Gunter said he, as constable, not only serves warrants and legal papers for Orange County, but also for other counties and law agencies. Last year, he served more than 870 legal papers, from about 300. He said he works 40 hours a week and is available at any time for people who need him.

However, Gunter, who is the youngest of the candidates and the only one not retired, said the county does not pay for his car expenses in the job and he spends $288 a week for the car. He said that leaves him with $648 to support his family of wife, two sons and two stepdaughters. He said he will continue to do extra jobs to support his family and has never asked the county for a larger salary.

Concerning one question about having a criminal record, Bailey said he has never been convicted of a criminal offense and is up-to-date on his Texas law enforcement certification. He said he was not fired from the sheriff's office in the past, but retired after a new sheriff was elected and took office. Bailey served as chief deputy in the 1990s.

Also, Gunter denied an accusation that he had sued Orange County and used up years of work from the county attorney's office. He said he filed a grievance with a previous sheriff after he was terminated when a supervisor lied about him. The grievance went through the legal process with the deputies union and the opinion came in his favor that he was wrongly terminated. He said he has never sued the county.

Hass said he worked under Sheriff Huel Fontenot, who took office in 1989 and served until 1997. Hass said under the next sheriff, he went from working as a narcotics investigator to being on patrol. He said he doesn't know why, but the mechanic for the office told him about a request to turn back the odometer of a vehicle owned by Texas Parks and Wildlife for game warden patrol.

Hass said he followed protocol by reporting the complaint to the chief deputy at the time and later talked to the FBI about it. He said officials in the sheriff's office blamed him for talking to the FBI, so he resigned. He said he was not fired.


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