Trinity Co. commissioner controversy cleared-up

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Trinity County Precinct 4 Commissioner Travis Forest retired in May in the middle of his term. County Judge Mark Evans appointed James Alford, the county's first black commissioner, to hold the office until an election could be held.

But according to the county's Democratic Party chair Freddie Chapman, "No one knew it. None of the political parties knew it.  Everyone was caught off guard. We found out afterwards."

So the controversy started when the county's Democratic Party decided on whom to submit for the next election and Alford wasn't chosen.

"We can only by law submit one name. We would have preferred it be all five on the ballot and let the public decide, but this is not what the law states," says Chapman.

He says they previewed all five candidates seeking election, including Alford, and chose Jimmy Brown by vote.

"We held a vote and each person had submitted their names requesting to be considered and we held a vote. There was no tie vote and Jimmy Brown got the majority and that's where it ends."

But Alford says the entire nominating process could have been handled differently.

"There are some personal things that bother me. One is location. Why couldn't it be held at the county courthouse?  And I thought it would have been good, law or not, for the election judges to visit with candidates and see what their plans where for this precinct before the decision was made."

And Chapman says that any other allegations regarding the process are false.

"They tried to place the race card in here and say it was a tie and I made the determining vote, but that is totally untrue," says Chapman.

Alford AGREES.

"I would like to think in 2008, I hope not (race being a factor).  But no I don't think it had anything to do with it.  I'm going to finish out the term and as my wife said, 'I'm going to be the best commissioner this precinct has ever had and that's what I plan to do.'"

Although Alford can be a "write-in" candidate this November, he says he won't be doing that. But, he will run for a full term in the next election.