While all four Brazos County precincts have races on the Nov. 6 ballot, only in Precinct 4 are they contested. Voters there will decide between good incumbents and strong challengers for commissioner and justice of the peace.
Three of the four candidates accepted the invitation of the Editorial Board and we spent an hour or more with each of them, getting to know them and their platforms.
Our recommendations are but one source of information voters should use when making their decisions. Other sources could include candidate forums, news stories, advertising, campaign literature and friends and co-workers.
Here are The Eagle's recommendations in the two contested Precinct 4 races:
Timothy Delasandro, Republican, vs. Commissioner Irma Cauley, Democrat -- Delasandro is a familiar name, having run unsuccessfully for several offices in the past, and we have gotten to know him well. At a time when too few good people are willing to run for office, we admire Delasandro for his persistence. His dogged determination gives voters a choice, one they don't have in many other races.
But Delasandro is more than just a name on the ballot: He has many good ideas. He advocates beefing school safety by tripling the number of deputies assigned to College Station schools. He would rotate those school resource officers to have a greater depth of experience when needed.
Delasandro would like the county to create a program to award a $1 million grant annually for school safety. Delasandro said he would limit tax increases, using growth in the county to pay for his school safety ideas. He also said the county needs more mental health resources.
"People feel no one has their back," Delasandro said, noting that he includes his personal cell phone number on his campaign materials so people can contact him. He also said he would host Saturday-morning breakfasts with residents of Precinct 4 as a way to communicate.
Cauley was named commissioner to replace her husband, longtime Commissioner Carey Cauley, who died in office. She is completing her first full term and is seeking a second. Although she is not the natural politician her husband was, Cauley works hard for the people of Precinct 4. She has started the Lee Chapel 4-H program to bring new skills to the children of the precinct.
She is passionate about education, saying, "Every child in public school should learn a saleable skill." She said she is excited about the new RELLIS campus -- which is located in her precinct -- and its ability to train the workforce.
But Cauley isn't just interested in Precinct 4 -- she works hard for the county as a whole, serving on the Area Agency on Aging and the Veterans Park Board, among others. She is out and about in the community at an almost frantic pace. Her interests and her efforts are many and they are varied.
While we admire both candidates and believe either would make a fine commissioner for Precinct 4, Cauley's years of experience and service to the precinct -- on the Brazos County Commissioners Court and elsewhere -- give her the distinct edge.
The Eagle recommends a vote for Irma Cauley for re-election as commissioner for Precinct 4.
Justice of the Peace
JP Louis Garcia, Republican, vs. Celina Vasquez, Democrat -- The people of Precinct 4 have the opportunity to elect Celina Vasquez, one of the most exciting candidates for a JP post we have seen in a long time.
Judge Garcia did not meet with the Editorial Board during the primary process or for the general election. He is a 1966 graduate of Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan. He served in the National Guard for nine years and then became Precinct 4 constable, the first Hispanic elected to office in the county. He turned that part-time office into a full-time position, expanding the staff to three full-time deputies and two clerks.
Garcia's son, Gabriel Garcia, is unopposed in his bid to become Brazos County district clerk.
After meeting with Vasquez in the spring and again for the general election, we are convinced she would an exceptional justice of the peace. She raises concerns about the accessibility of the Precinct 4 JP office in the courthouse because that building closes at 5 p.m. and is closed weekends. She said Precinct 4 Constable Isaac Butler is willing to work with her to extend office hours.
She also is concerned that all school truancy cases are heard by Precinct 3 JP Rick Hill. She feels that truancies from Precinct 4 should be heard by the Precinct 4 JP.
Vasquez said she would like to create a justice of the peace citizens academy similar to police and fire academies in both cities. She also would like to produce a Precinct 4 newsletter one or two times a year.
Vasquez's personality and enthusiasm are engaging and she would bring a zest to the office, while still maintaining the necessary decorum and seriousness of the position.
The Eagle recommends a vote for Celina Vasquez for justice of the peace for Precinct 4.