TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The candidates for Sheriff in Trinity County believe leadership is crucial for a safe and thriving community.
Challenger Woody Wallace says law enforcement in the county is need of change but Sheriff Ralph Montemayor says his record speaks for itself and his opponent's experience level doesn't match up.
After serving precinct one in Trinity County for six years, Constable Woody Wallace is looking to take on more responsibility.
"The old saying goes if you don't like how its running, run for the office yourself," said Woody Wallace, Trinity County Constable Precinct 1.
The Republican candidate says he wants the county to prosper and for that to happen he believes the Sheriff's role is to run the county like a business.
"I don't like the way things are going there, I don't think people are getting the service they deserve," said Wallace.
Sheriff Ralph Montemayor has been in office for nearly four years and says in that time he's made improvements to keep residents safer.
"I have a good base here, a good knowledge of the people and of the county and I think I bring a lot more experience to the office," said Montemayor.
Some of the changes the Democrat is most proud of: bringing in experienced deputies to work cases and upgrading the jail's technology, all while staying under the county budget.
"A new software system that was over eighty thousand dollars which gives the people, my officers, more time on the streets and less time in the office doing reports," said Montemayor.
Both candidates claim to have a cordial relationship but this past September the two disagreed on the status of two inmates.
Montemayor released Rodney and Walter Overbeck who were in jail for deadly conduct after allegedly pointing a shot gun at several people.
Montemayor said he released them on PR bond because he didn't feel like they were a danger to their neighbors.
"I went to the Overbeck residence and visited with them on that afternoon and advised them of the concerns that the neighbor had, and they said they would have no problem with them," said Montemayor. Wallace arrested the pair and says the decision to release them was irresponsible and believes there needs to be better communication between each law enforcement agency.
"There's very poor relationship between each agency and if you're not working together, you're not sharing information. If you don't get some of these drugs dealers under control and some of the thieving under control then you're going to see an escalation in violence," said Wallace.
Montemayor says Wallace has done a good job in his precinct but doesn't have as much experience.
"I brought professionalism to the office, I know how the judicial system works, the different judges and handling prisoners in our jails. This is my home, I just love the people here, and its an area that I want people to feel comfortable in their own home," said Montemayor.
But Wallace believes Trinity County is ready for a new face.
"I just don't think his heart is there to provide the service this county needs to manage a sheriff's department like it needs to be managed," said Wallace.