LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Whitney Grunder - email
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Five elected officials in Angelina County have decided to switch to the Republican Party. The Party made the announcement in a press release on Friday.
"They're fiscally conservative and their belief system really lines up a lot more with the Republican Party," said Bob Flournoy, Angelina County Republican Party Chairman.
Making the switch are District Clerk Reba Squyres, County Clerk Jo Ann Chastain, Tax Collector-Assessor Midget Sherman, Commissioner Pct. 1 Rick Harrison and Constable, Pct. 3 Belton Havard.
"Starting the new term, I wanted to start out as a Republican," said Squyres. "It's something that I was going to do even if i was doing it on my own."
Flournoy believes the big switch has a lot to do with the New Year.
"The law basically says that you can't switch during the year in which you are elected. Several of these were elected actually in November," he said.
"We the undersigned office holders in Angelina County, Texas are changing our party affiliation from Democrat to Republican," read a document signed by the five. "The Democrat Party no longer reflects our values and our conservative principles – it moved, we have not. We are more aligned with the Republican Party principles and platforms and wish to be identified with them. Our decision is not based on a disagreement with the local Democrat Party or its members. We feel abandoned and disenfranchised by the liberal State and National party. Our friends and most of our constituents have already changed their party affiliation to the Republican Party – we join them."
"We are proud and honored to have these five individuals affiliate with the Republican Party in Angelina County," stated Flournoy in the press release. "Like most of us in East Texas, they are unhappy with the ultra liberal agenda of the National Democrat Party. The Republican Party represents their values and principles. We are glad to have them come over to our side and continue to work for a more conservative county, state and nation."
The move comes three months after Republicans won every contested race in Angelina County.
In a telephone interview Friday afternoon, Sherman admitted part of her decision was based on the November election, in which more than 6,000 voters elected to vote straight-party Republican.
"It's always going to have something to do with how people vote in the future," she said. "But I want people to vote for the person, not the party, whether that means I win or lose."
Sherman said a political party has little to do with a local office.
"If you ask me, I feel like party affiliation should not be required for a local race," she said. "Each person has a job they have to do for their constituents. You need to vote on honesty and integrity and everything it takes to do a job right."
Sherman said she has mixed feelings about the switch.
"I feel excited in one way, sad in another," she said. "It's too early to tell how I feel. Who knows, maybe I might be in the wrong party for the next election."
Flournoy said he believes more change is on the horizon.
"November was really a national referendum," he said. "Across the East Texas area and probably all of Texas-- there will be quite a few more of these switches soon."
She no longer relates to the Democratic Party, but Squyres maintains everything else will stay the same.
"As a party affiliate, one way or another, it doesn't change the way i'm going to do my job," she said.