Your Voice, Your Vote: Thomas Kerss, Nacogdoches Co. Sheriff's Race
Candidate's Name: Thomas Kerss
Date of Birth: January 30, 1961
Education: Graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, BAAS, Criminal Justice
Graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy, Quantico, Virginia
Graduate of Kilgore College, East Texas Police Academy, Kilgore, Texas
Graduate of Cushing High School, Cushing Texas
Family: Thomas is the son of James Thomas and Sarah Minter Kerss of the Trawick Community. After losing a spouse (the former Debra Murdock Kerss) to breast cancer shortly after taking office as sheriff, Thomas met and eventually married Codi Holeman Kerss on July 27, 2003. Thomas and Codi share five children together: Bryan, Craig, Aaron, Allison and Ashley. Thomas is the proud grandfather of Colt and Clay Kerss and Debra Beathard. Thomas also has three sisters, Tena Kessinger, Mary Burchfield and Melissa Duncan and a host of extended family.
Religion: Thomas is a born-again Christian who believes in the virgin birth, life, death and resurrection of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and he has followed Him in believer's baptism. Thomas believes that the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God given unto man.
Thomas grew up attending the Trawick Presbyterian Church, where his parents attend and where he still visits regularly. Thomas and his family were active members of Fredonia Hill Baptist Church in Nacogdoches for about 15 years when married to Debra. He and his current wife Codi are now members of the Apostolic Lighthouse Church in Central Heights, where he routinely attends.
Re-election contact information:
Campaign Telephone # (936) 652-0414
Facebook: Re-elect Sheriff Thomas Kerss
Mailing Address: 4188 State Highway 204, Nacogdoches, TX 75964
Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office information (professional use only):
Office Telephone # (936) 560-7794
Office Address: 2306 Douglass Highway, Nacogdoches, TX 75964
Facebook: Nacogdoches Sheriff
BIOGRAPHY: At 51 years of age, Sheriff Thomas Kerss is a lifelong resident of Nacogdoches County. Thomas grew up on a small rural farm in the Trawick community that has been in his family for five generations, and where he and his immediate family currently reside. Thomas graduated from Cushing High School and obtained a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Stephen F. Austin State University. A career peace officer with more than 30 years of service, Thomas joined the Tyler Police Department as a patrolman in 1981. Thomas soon realized that law enforcement was his God given calling in life and he has pursued that passion ever since. Thomas was eventually elected as Sheriff of Nacogdoches County in 2000 and is currently seeking his fourth term of office as Sheriff.
A Past-President of the Sheriffs' Association of Texas, Thomas has testified on our behalf many times before the State Legislature in Austin. He has also represented our state nationally on key federal legislative matters. Sheriff Kerss currently serves on the Immigration/Border Security and Legal Affairs Committees for the National Sheriffs' Association and is one of only two dozen sheriffs from across our Nation that is invited on a bi-annual basis to meet with the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to discuss critical border security and Illegal Immigration Enforcement reform issues. Thomas has also been appointed to represent all of Texas' Sheriffs on the Board of Directors for the National Institute of Justice (Rocky Mountain Region) Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Assessment Center and the Texas Association of Counties CIRA Board of Directors.
A graduate of the FBI National Academy (Quantico, VA) and the East Texas Police Academy (Kilgore, TX), Sheriff Kerss holds a Master Peace Officer's License, a Master Jailer's License, and a Law Enforcement Instructor's Certificate issued by the State of Texas. Sheriff Kerss received both national and international recognition for his instrumental role during the Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster and he displayed key leadership functions during hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike, as well as the Angelina River Bottom Fire of 2011. Using those experiences, Thomas has taught a variety of criminal justice related classes at several colleges and universities throughout East Texas and he has trained many first responders from across the nation and state on a variety of topics regarding multi-media events and disaster preparedness and response.
What qualifies you for this office?
Training and education are very important to any career and law enforcement is no different. Thomas Kerss has trained, studied and prepared for the role of Sheriff. But there is a level of knowledge and understanding that comes from experience gained on the job that cannot be learned in a classroom. Sheriff Thomas Kerss draws that knowledge and understand from his education and training, coupled with:
- Over 30 years of law enforcement experience
- Over 19 years of experience as a top Law Enforcement and Jail Administrator
- Performing the job of Sheriff of Nacogdoches County, Texas for the past 11 years
- Having taught law enforcement, public safety and public administration related courses at colleges, universities and law enforcement academies throughout East Texas.
- Having provided information and testimony to our legislators regarding various public safety aspects, including criminal justice related concerns regarding mental health issues in Texas and the United States
- Serving as Area Operations Chief, for NASA's Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster of 2003
- Serving as Incident Commander/Operations Chief, during FEMA Disasters: Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav & Ike
- And serving as area Command Operations Chief, during the Angelina River-bottom Fire, 2011
Sheriff Thomas Kerss gained part of his job qualifications through has rich work history as a peace officer in Texas. Thomas came up through the ranks of law enforcement. His work on patrol and as an investigator exposed him to virtually every type of criminal investigation imaginable. His years as Chief Deputy and then Sheriff afforded him valuable on-the-job administrative law enforcement and jail experience that cannot be learned elsewhere.
2001 to Present, Sheriff of Nacogdoches County, Texas
1994 to 2001, Chief Deputy Sheriff of Nacogdoches County, Texas
1992 to 1994, Lieutenant, Criminal Investigation Division, Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
1991 to 1992, Patrol Sergeant, Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
1990 to 1991, Patrol Deputy, Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
1985 to 1990, Patrol Officer and FTO, City of Nacogdoches, Texas Police Department
1981 to 1985, Patrol Officer, City of Tyler, Texas Police Department
Licenses and Certificates:
Master Texas Peace Officer License
Master Texas Jail License
Texas Law Enforcement Instructor Certificate
Other Career Highlights:
- Past President, Sheriffs' Association of Texas for 2009 and 2010
- Current Immigration/Border Security and Legal Affairs Committee Member, National Sheriff's Association
- Committee Member of the National Institute of Justice, Rocky Mountain Regional Technology Assessment Center Representting all sheriffs in Texas.
- Board of Directors, Texas Association of Counties
- Chair of the Nacogdoches County Mental Health Advisory Council
- Past President, East Texas Peace Officers' Association
- Past President, Nacogdoches County Peace Officers' Association
- "Lawman of the Year" by the Sheriff's Association of Texas in 2003
- "Law Enforcement Officer of the Year" by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Texas in 2004
- "Citizen of the Year", 2003 by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce
- "Leadership Award" 2003 by the East Texas Peace Officers' Association
- "Leadership Award", 2003 by the Nacogdoches Rotary Club
- "Law Enforcement Officer of the Year" by Nacogdoches VFW Post 3893 in 2004
- Past Master and Golden Trowel Recipient of Swift Masonic Lodge AF&AM
- Coached a Little Dribblers Basketball Team to a National Championship in 2007
What are your plans if re-elected?
Sheriff Thomas Kerss is deeply honored to serve the citizens of this great country and state, and proud to represent the wonderful people of Nacogdoches County. He has worked hard to represent Nacogdoches County with honor, integrity and professionalism while being mindful of the needs of others. Most of all, Thomas has surrounded himself with many competent, caring individuals that are equally dedicated to serving others. Together, they have fostered a team effort dedicated to serving the citizens of Nacogdoches County. If re-elected, Thomas and his staff will continue to work hard to serve you in a positive, professional way.
Sheriff Kerss recognizes that the duties placed upon a sheriff are many. A sheriff is the chief law enforcement administrator for a county and must be capable of effectively managing all areas of responsibility. Sheriff Kerss is well versed in each aspect required of the job, not just a few. Whether it is solving crimes, operating a jail, leading emergency management operations, overseeing mental health and inmate transports, or one of his many other duties, Sheriff Kerss and his staff will continue to ensure that the job is satisfactorily performed to the best of their abilities.
During Sheriff Kerss tenure in office the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office has produced a 100% clearance rate on murder investigations. He and his staff have documented more than 300 criminal gang members within Nacogdoches County and Sheriff Kerss has targeted strong enforcement efforts to combat their illegal activities. The Sheriff's Office has also broken up human smuggling operations, made countless arrests for burglaries, thefts, illicit drugs, sexual assaults, including those of children, and more. In an effort to help protect our citizens, Sheriff Kerss has (and will) maintain a hard line on pursuing sexual predators and his office will continue the proactive, unscheduled compliance monitoring of all registered sex offenders within Nacogdoches County. Thomas and his team of officers will also continue to heavily focus on protecting life and property by solving crime, arresting assailants and combating the illegal gang and illicit drug activities that plague our communities.
Working with others is important too. County budgets and employee positions are determined by the County Commissioners' Court, not the sheriff. Throughout his tenure in office, Sheriff Thomas Kerss has demonstrated the ability to work well with others, including the County Judge and Commissioners. If re-elected, Sheriff Kerss will continue to maintain a positive working relationship so that the needs of our County Government are met while avoiding unproductive arguing and in-fighting. During these tough economic times we must strive to sustain a high level of efficiency while avoiding unnecessary tax increases. Sheriff Kerss has practiced a conservative, frugal business approach to operating the Sheriff's Office. If re-elected, Thomas will remain a good steward for the County taxpayers by continuing to seek grant opportunities and by maximizing the effectiveness of our law enforcement resources through the implementation and improvements of strategies, technologies and training. Thomas will continue to work equally hard to ensure that the best job possible is done with the resources made available to him.
As sheriff, Thomas Kerss has written and implemented sound administrative policies that help to protect our County and our employees from unnecessary law suits. Sheriff Kerss will continue to ensure that efficient operating policies remain in place to guard against unwanted legal actions and he will see that they are fairly and properly enforced.
"Voters of Nacogdoches County, I am Sheriff Thomas Kerss and it is an honor to serve you. I ask for your vote on May 29th so that I may keep working hard for you and our great county. Thank you."