LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By the end of Super Tuesday, residents in Angelina County will know who the next district attorney will be.
Last December, current District Attorney Art Bauereiss announced he would be retiring at the end of his term. Bauereiss won the position after Clyde Harrington retired four years earlier. The race for Bauereiss' successor has come down to two candidates; Katrina Carswell and Joe Martin.
Carswell has been involved in the legal field for over two decades.
"I've spent over 12 and a half years or more than half of my career in Angelina County," Carswell said. "I think my experience in this office as opposed to another office is really critical. I understand how this court system works. I am familiar with the judges I work with."
Martin is no stranger to the legal system. Martin has been involved in several different ways in two counties.
"Since 1981 until now I have been in the criminal justice system," Martin said. "I served five and a half years as the assistant Angeline County attorney, then in 1986, I was elected to the county court at law here and served 12 years there. After that, I was in private practice for eight years I was the first assistant in the Polk County district attorney's office. "I've served as a judge, a defense attorney, that gives me a broad perspective to evaluate cases and which cases need to be tried."
Each one took a different way of getting involved in the race to replace Baueriess.
"I was hopeful that Mr. Bauereiss would run for another term or even more," Carswell said. "I have enjoyed working under him throughout these last 12 years. When he decided at the last minute that wasn't a decision he wanted to mak,e I felt compelled to continue on with the good work this office has done."
Martin had been enjoying retirement when he was approached about the position.
"I retired at the end of 2014, and I was enjoying retirement, and I was approached by a group in the criminal justice system and I felt compelled to get back in it and I take that duty serious."
The Angelina County DA office has an estimated 1,200-1,500 cases a year come into the office. Carswell said she has several ways to make sure the cases are being heard and are taken care of.
"If elected, I will not fill my spot with another prosecutor but will actually fill it with another investigator," Carswell said. "We currently have one and are in need of a second. One of the things I want to focus on is strengthen the aspect of our office that focuses on victims. We get a lot of help from Harold's House volunteers and women shelter volunteers, but we need to be fed up and put a lot more emphasis on the victims."
Martin said a better work staff would be noticeable if he is elected.
"What you are going to see is better communication with law enforcement, better selection of cases to go to trial and better training of the young prosecutors we got here. They are talented we just need a better leader."
The race may come down to endorsements with Joe Martin proudly displaying his endorsements from Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches and the Lufkin Police Officers Association.
"The situation that was described to me by the people that talked to me was there wasn't a lot of communication between the agencies and the district attorney's office," Martin said."
Carswell believes the use of those endorsements is showing dirty politics.
"It's not all law enforcement," Carswell said. "I have talked to several officers who support me. I think it is unfortunate that people will divide this community in such ways by forming some sort of alliance because of regardless of who wins, we will all have to work together. "
The winner of the Republican Primary will go on to be the new DA since there is no one signed up in the Democratic Primary.