For the past year, when Joe English wasn't managing the laboratory at Nacogdoches County Memorial Hospital, he was educating himself about county government.
"I participated in the commissioner court meetings for the last year. I try to make all those and I feel like that's important for me to be able to understand the finances of the county, where they raise their one and how they spend it," said English. English was unopposed in the primary, so he substituted costly campaigning with preparation to take office.
English thought he had the county judge's race won and then, suddenly, Harlon Brooks stepped into the picture." Brooks slow cooks his briskets that made him a successful business man, but when it comes to politics he entered the fast food mode as a write in candidate. Brooks said, "We have put out close to 300 signs, we spent over $20,000 and plan to spend some more because we are serious." Brooks, who is an African-American says he's supported by a diversified group, but he's most proud to have the support from the black community. "That's been a sleeping community that has not in history been knows to vote very much, but they are beginning to come out. It makes me proud, makes my family proud."
Brooks wants to run county government like a business knowing it takes money to make money. He says he can do it without a tax hike. Brooks said, "We should take the oil and gas resources that's coming in and look at that very seriously and plan on how we can work that down. But as long as our town continues to grow we are going to have some debt." Meanwhile, English says he follows the philosophy of a conservative mentor. "I do consider myself as a Christian conservative. I definitely believe the Reagan economic philosophy is the best way, and that's to keep our tax base low."
Both men are wanting to bring in clean industry with good paying jobs. Brooks who left Nacogdoches to begin his business in Houston as a younger man said, "Young people shouldn't have to leave. That's what we had to do back in the '60's because there no other way." English says economic development occurs, "When your tax base is low you bring industry into your community."