Crowded field of Tarrant County Precinct 1 Democratic candidates discuss jails, partisanship

dfwnewsa | February 9, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Crowded field of Tarrant County Precinct 1 Democratic candidates discuss jails, partisanship

Candidates for Tarrant County Precinct 1 address attendees of the Fort Worth Report’s primary debates held Feb. 8, 2024 at Texas Wesleyan University. (Camilo Diaz | Fort Worth Report)
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Democratic candidates for federal, state and local office discussed top issues and pitched themselves as the best nominee to vie for key offices during the November general election. 

The Fort Worth Report hosted its second candidate debate on Feb. 8 at Texas Wesleyan University in partnership with fellow nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations KERA, SteerFW and the League of Women Voters. Democratic primary candidates for U.S. House District 12, Texas House District 97, and Tarrant County Precinct 1 discussed key issues, including education, criminal justice and the economy. 

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The March 5 primary election will decide the Republican and Democratic candidates who will face each other in the general election Nov. 5. Early voting for the 2024 primary starts Tuesday, Feb. 20. Texas primaries are open, which means residents may vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary in March.Residents can find voter information about nearby polling places, sample ballots and acceptable voter IDs here.

Longtime incumbent Roy Brooks announced in September he would not seek reelection. Four Democrats, Mia Hall, Kathleen Hicks, Roderick Miles and Darryl Brewer, are competing to replace him on the Tarrant County Commissioners Court. 

All four candidates said they have deep roots in Fort Worth and shared similar sentiments about the need to work with Republicans, who currently hold a 3-2 majority, on the commissioners court. 

The candidates also agreed that commissioners are responsible for preventing deaths of inmates in Tarrant County custody, although another elected official, the sheriff, is formally in charge of the jaiI. In the past two years, 22 inmates have died in Tarrant County custody.

Miles works in Brooks’ office as the executive administrator over Programs and Outreach. He said the key to reducing the number of deaths in Tarrant County jails is reducing the number of nonviolent inmates awaiting trial in jail and reducing recidivism. He currently leads a county program that provides job training to Tarrant County inmates to ensure they can find a job after they are released, he said. 

“We need to be able to create a pipeline for individuals to get a job so that they can take care of their families,” Miles said. 

Miles said he will focus on health care, infrastructure, criminal justice reform and responsible tax cuts as commissioner. 

Brewer, a veteran and business owner, said he is running because he believes Precinct 1 is regressing. 

“Whether you’re talking about education, whether you’re talking about income … I’m running because I’m going to change this,” Brewer said. 

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He emphasized the importance of transparency and communication when working with other members of the commissioners court. 

“I’ll bring the facts, I’ll have a presentation so that the truth will be clear,” Brewer said. “I will use my bully pulpit to make a difference in this community.” 

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Hall, an educator and Crowley ISD board member, said she wants to support affordable housing, expand access to health care, and improve infrastructure and manage growth in Precinct 1.

With growth comes pollution issues. Hall said she believes the county has a responsibility to address the negative environmental impacts associated with industrial growth. 

Hall said she sees many of the county’s issues, like criminal justice and infrastructure, as nonpartisan issues and she is prepared to work with her Republican colleagues. 

“No one is naive to the political climate of a court,” Hall said. “I truly believe that there’s more that unites us than what divides us.” 

Hicks touted her experience as the youngest elected Fort Worth City Council member representing District 8. She said she has a proven record of creating jobs and housing while serving on City Council. 

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Despite Democrats being a longtime minority on the five-member Tarrant County Commissioners Court, Hicks said, she has the experience to work with colleagues from the opposite party. 

“I will work hard with anyone if they want to do the right thing for our Precinct 1,” Hicks said.  

Air quality and industrial growth have disproportionately impacted communities of color, Hicks said. Tarrant County is behind when it comes to building and maintaining public transportation as an alternative to cars. 

“We are way behind and, if we don’t get it together, we’re going to regret this and it is going to affect each and every one of us,” Hicks said. 

Missed the candidate forum? Here’s where to watch the recording

The forums were open to the public and livestreamed on the Fort Worth Report’s YouTube channel. To watch the forum, click here.

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