Candidates for Jeff Davis County Judge
This morning we speak with the two candidates for Jeff Davis County Judge - Democrat Fred Granado and Republican Jeannette Duer.
Granado is a lifelong Fort Davis resident and current countywide Justice of the Peace. Duer is a longtime lawyer from Odessa who lives in Fort Davis and periodically teaches at schools in the region.
They joined us on the lawn of the Jeff Davis County Courthouse to talk about a variety of local issues, ranging from the ongoing budget struggles at Fort Davis ISD, to law enforcement and the oil and gas industry booming just to the north in Reeves County and the rest of the Permian Basin.
Both candidates agreed that education is vital to the success of the entire community, and that building a stable financial footing for FDISD is essential.
Duer: The school district is the heart of the community. Hopefully these kiddos are going to stick around, they’re going to be pillars of our community. We want them to have the best opportunities available to them.
Granado: We cannot afford to lose the school. We need our children to be educated, to be prepared to go to the next level.
However, both candidates also suggested the district could have handled its decision to raise taxes differently.
D: We have to be careful about increasing taxes too much in a short time…to tackle the problem, we’ve got to have community support. We don’t have the oil industry in here pouring a lot of money into the community, so we’ve got to seek other avenues.
G: Taxes so much so quickly puts a hardship on a lot of people. I think if it would’ve been done gradually, it would’ve been more acceptable by the community and the citizens of Fort Davis.
On the issue of maintaining the quality of the area’s dark skies in order to protect research at the McDonald Observatory, Duer said she would work to educate oil and gas companies in the Permian Basin about ways to prevent light pollution.
Granado echoed that sentiment, saying the observatory’s research is important, largely because of the jobs it brings to Fort Davis.
Both candidates were asked how they would communicate with state law enforcement leaders about concerns raised in part by Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor, current Chairman of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition.
McIvor has previously said he’s not satisfied with the way the state handles border enforcement surge efforts, and that local departments want more of a seat at the table.
Duer said she’s not familiar with that particular criticism from McIvor, but did say law enforcement agencies have to work together:
D: We have to have a working relationship with all of them – with the troopers, with Border Patrol, with ICE, Homeland Security – everybody needs to have a seat at the table. Before you go off and ask the state for money to go into a certain direction, you gotta have all the facts, and you have to now what the needs are of the community.
G: Though some of these monies from the state are an asset - at some point we need them - we need to be looking at what we have here to work with. I’m not against receiving any state funds to help the sheriff’s department, but we can look at how we can handle our own here in Jeff Davis County.
Granado did, however, say he’d take a close look at any state funding the local sheriff’s department is qualified for.
Both candidates agreed that if the City of Fort Davis or the county were to move forward with selling their water supplies to private oil and gas interests in the basin, the community as a whole would have to carefully consider the consequences. They both said water is a “precious resource” in the county.