Race to watch: Wichita County Judge

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 7:14 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Three fresh faces will face off this election season to be the next Wichita County Judge.

Businessman Rick Hatcher, former Chief of Staff for State Senator James Frank - Jim Johnson, and paralegal Janaye Evans are all looking to replace longtime Judge Woody Gossom.

Hatcher and Johnson are running as Republicans, while Evans is running as a Democrat.

Below candidates answer three questions about why they believe they deserve your vote.

What are your qualifications to be Wichita County Judge?

Rick Hatcher - “I’ve been a businessman all my life, I have run our family business for over 35 years, I have started five other businesses during that time. I have been elected three times to the Wichita Falls city council, served as your mayor pro-tem, been involved in Leadership Wichita Falls and countless other organizations over the years and I am ready to do this on day one.”

Jim Johnson - “My experience working as the Chief of Staff for State Representative (James) Frank will bring an important skill set to the jobs of knowing how to navigate what’s coming down to us from the federal government and the state government. It’s a huge part of what the county judge does is navigating those challenges and I feel like I have the unique experience and background to do that well.”

Janaye Evans - “I’m currently a paralegal, I have been for seven years, it will be eight this September. I know the law, I know pretty much every area that the county judge covers. I know people, I know Wichita County, I know the things that we need to get done, the changes that need to be made so I am not the one that is scared to do it.”

What changes would you like to make as County Judge?

Rick Hatcher - “I get a lot of people asking about the tax rate and all that, well you know we do have a high tax rate and we are going to have to try and hold the line on taxes, cut taxes if at all possible, that will be one of my biggest objectives is to try and find a way to do that, but we do have the law enforcement center which is a big chunk of that tax rate because of the bond on that, but it is one very nice facility and we are going to turn that into a revenue producer by housing other counties’ inmates.”

Jim Johnson - “The first thing that I want to do is work with our county commissioners to make sure that our budget is protecting the taxpayer, that we are focused on what our core functions are. Another big part of what I would like to see us do is be more open and welcoming to folks who live here as far as if they’ve got ideas for how to solve problems. I want them to feel like they are part of the solution. I’d love to have town halls around the county, just be pretty open.”

Janaye Evans - “I want every street to be repaired, I want lights in every neighborhood, I just want everyone to know what they are being cared for and looked after, especially the little smaller towns like Electra or Burkburnett. I just want everyone to be taken care of.”

How would you better serve the community as County Judge?

Rick Hatcher - “You know I’ve got a servant’s heart so I’m always going to be there, helping other people.”

Jim Johnson - “What I feel like what I would bring to the job is that attitude of it’s my job to help the county run with excellence, not to run your life.”

Janaye Evans - “Holding meetings, allowing the public to go through me or the commissioners court in order to get their concerns out and make sure there is another platform for them to be informed of the public meetings, not everyone is always informed of that and that is something that I want to change.”

The last day to register to vote is Jan. 31, and early voting starts on Feb. 14.

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