Four candidates vying for Nacogdoches County judge

Greg Sowell, a police sergeant and former Citizen of the Year wants a sound budget for expensive needs, such as county jail improvements. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Greg Sowell, a police sergeant and former Citizen of the Year wants a sound budget for expensive needs, such as county jail improvements. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Elton Milstead, county commissioner for Pct. 4 says property owners pay way too much in property tax. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Elton Milstead, county commissioner for Pct. 4 says property owners pay way too much in property tax. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Nacogdoches County Judge Mike Perry decided late to run for re-election. His goal is to establish a debt free county. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Nacogdoches County Judge Mike Perry decided late to run for re-election. His goal is to establish a debt free county. (Source: KTRE Staff)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Four candidates are in the Republican Primary for Nacogdoches County Judge. There are no county judge candidates in the Democratic Primary.

East Texas News talked to the candidates to see why each one wants the job.

Nacogdoches County Judge Mike Perry is the incumbent who surprised opponents by submitting his candidacy late in the game.

"It took me a while to decide that I needed to do another term," Perry said with a chuckle.

Perry took office on April 1, 2014. The former city commissioner and well-known automobile dealer said his "to-do" list isn't complete. A debt-free county is the goal.

"I think our payments are a million six or a million eight a year on our debt," Perry said. "If we could get rid of some of that debt we would be in shape to build a jail."

Perry knows a replacement of an aging jail has been on the list since before he took office.

"They said we would need $18 million or $23 million, and that's more money we can come with unless we get out of debt," Perry said.

County Commissioner Elton Milstead sits five seats down from his opponent. He describes himself as a "pay-as-you-go" kind of guy. His voting record reflects his no new taxes stand.

"I am a firm believer of conservative values, and I believe we pay way too much in property taxes,' Milstead said. "I believe government should tax people for only the services they provide."

Milstead said he knows a reserve fund is necessary, but he placed a limit on how much it should hold.

"I'm not a big fan of saving or keeping property taxpayer dollars in a fund because I have found the government doesn't do well with large sums of money," Milstead said.

Chris Cagle's campaign points to his political science degree and business experience.

"My youth might energize the court to look in new directions to make the county better," Cagle said.

Cagle described himself as fiscally conservative and a strategic thinker.

"I would like the county to be more pro-active on strategic issues that might come up," Cagle said. "And I do think sometimes it's a little more reactive."

The former political staffer said having a plan is most important in government.

"My desire to do strategic planning, think down the road," Cagle said.
A longtime city employee with the Nacogdoches Police Department, Greg Sowell is looking ahead to county politics.

The former Citizen of the Year for Nacogdoches County has been in law enforcement since age 20. The police sergeant said he recognizes county jail needs must be addressed.

"We've got a choice," Sowell said. "We've got a choice to either fix it, build another one in the future or have to have our prisoners somewhere else and you certainly don't want to do that.">

Sowell has served on boards of directors and has had budget responsibilities, including the Nacogdoches Senior Center. He said places importance on striving for a sound county budget. It's an essential component for costly jail improvements.

"Your financial stability, your financial health of any government that directly relates to what type of credit you have, your credit rating," Sowell said. "We want to be in a position, in years from now or whenever that the county can get the best shake, the people can get the best rate for their money."

All four candidates said they're committed to the race. The voters will decide on March 6.

There are two more days of early voting. It concludes March 2.  On Thursday and Friday, polls at the Nacogdoches County Annex will open early and close late. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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