Shelby County, optimistic about financial future, determining co - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Shelby County, optimistic about financial future, determining county judge race

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Benny Russell Benny Russell
Rick Campbell Rick Campbell
SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) -

By Donna McCollum - email

SHELBY COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Next week's election is best understood if you learn a bit about the Shelby County judges preceding the candidates of 2010.

For years, a budget-poor Shelby County was led by Democrat Floyd Dock Watson. He often got his way with little question, a bonus to his loyal support for education and historic preservation.

In 2006, the aging judge was defeated by John Tomlin, the first Republican to hold the office. He brought new ideas to the table, but suddenly became ill with cancer and passed away in 2009.

Another Republican, Rick Campbell, was appointed as judge.

"There's never a boring moment," Campbell said.

Primarily, for the first time, Shelby County has money due to the oil and gas revenue. Both Campbell and his opponent, Democrat Benny Russell know they're living in a county much different than what was seen by their predecessors.

"It's unprecedented and I feel like the future is bright and the opportunities are great and I really feel like if we position yourself in such a way to take advantage of those that will translate into better roads and services for all of Shelby County," Russell said.

"And yes ma'am, we're going to be able to do some things we haven't been able to do in the past 50 years," Cambell said.

Shelby County voters must select someone to manage a tax base exceeding $1.3 billion. Campbell says in county government he'll draw on his experience of starting and selling the multi million dollar business of port-a-cool.

"Growing a company by 40 percent, four years in a row and living through it and managing it and I believe that's what happening here today," Campbell said.

Russell, a longtime school board president from Akin and manager of a social service agency, speaks about his people skills.

[TAKE SOT] {RUSSELL/NOT REALLY RUNNING AGAINST RICK/AGENDA}

"I tell everybody I'm not running against Rick," Russell said. "I'm running for the office and I'm trying to go out and push my agenda."

He sees a divided court that he wants to unite.

"United you can do a lot of things and that's what I'll like to see happen," Russell said. "I think if we get in and united and everybody really works together then we could see some good things happen and that's basically what I'll like to do."

Campbell says he set out acquiring cooperation from the court from his first day in office.

"There was not a coming together when I first got here," Campbell said. "I felt like it was going to take me some time get everybody on the page."

The hazards of local politics is probably the constant, but soon voters in a soon-to-be nouveu rich county will be making one of the most important decisions in Shelby County history. Local leadership will affect the county's direction.

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