Voters decide on two Houston County commissioner races at the po - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Voters decide on two Houston County commissioner races at the polls

Jerry Bobbitt (D) Pct. 4 candidate Jerry Bobbitt (D) Pct. 4 candidate
Comm. Willie Kitchen (I) (D) Pct. 2 Comm. Willie Kitchen (I) (D) Pct. 2
Comm. Kennon Kellum (R) (I), pct. 4 Comm. Kennon Kellum (R) (I), pct. 4

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) – Voters in two Houston County precincts are deciding whether to keep their commissioner or vote a fresh face into office.

The incumbents are touting their experience and their opponents want to show how new ideas will make a difference.

Willie Kitchen (D) has served precinct two for the past 12 years.  If he's elected this time, it will be his fourth term in office.

"We're very effective operating county government. We're always trying to find ways to save money," said Kitchen.

He's facing Todd Baker in the commissioners race, but did not respond to KTRE's repeated requests for an interview.

In precinct four, Kennon Kellum (R) hopes to be re-elected. He says two terms hasn't been enough time to finish the improvements to his precinct.

"Eight years ago when I run - I said I would improve the roads and make sure that the tax dollars are spent right," said Kellum.

But his opponent, Jerry Bobbitt (D), believes he's had long enough.

"Seems like nobody opposes anything right now. I want to bring fresh ideas in," said Bobbitt.

County voters usually associate their commissioners with the work they do maintaining and improving county roads in their precinct.  That's especially true in rural Houston County.

The incumbents in both races say their experience working on county roads helps residents see progress, faster.

"The last 12 years I have been able to hard-surface at least one per year and I will continue that process," said Kitchen.

"I've put down 40 miles of road base, and I've changes out about 40% of the culverts," said Kellum.

However, precinct four challenger, Jerry Bobbitt, wants a chance to do it better.

"We need to outline a county program to begin to oil-top and black-top some of those roads so we can get to town," said Bobbitt.

Another challenge Houston County commissioners deal with is the budget.

Commissioner Kitchen says he's proud of the way his court has spent tax-payers money, which, he says, isn't like what they're doing in Washington.

"We're actually not part of the problem, but we're part of the solution here in Houston County," said Kitchen.

Commissioner Kellum says he takes spending tax-payer money very seriously.

"Our tax base is the cheapest of any tax base in the region," said Kellum.

Kellum's opponent, Jerry Bobbit, says increasing the efficiency of county government is key.

"Combine things that maybe where we don't do two steps when we can do one," said Bobitt.

For voters, this means, deciding between experience and fresh perspective for the future.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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