By DMN - Thursday, February 21, 2008
Education: Bachelor's degree from Trinity University; law degree from University of Tulsa
Occupation: Attorney for Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant
Years living in Denton County: eight
Total campaign contributions (including in-kind contributions): $22,049
Money spent: $16,211
Education: Bachelor's degree from University of North Texas; work on master's degree from UNT
Occupation: Precinct 1 county commissioner since 2000
Years living in Denton County: 22
Total campaign contributions (including in-kind contributions): $28,849
Money spent: $15,735
WHITE, COLEMAN ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE ROADS
Republican candidates for Precinct 1 commissioners clash on cash, structure
By Dan X. McGraw - Denton Record-Chronicle Staff Writer - Wed., Feb. 20, 2008
The local spotlight has turned on the Precinct 1 county commissioner’s race as the Republican candidates continue to one-up each other and the March primary draws closer.
Through campaign fodder and forums, Commissioner Cynthia White and her opponent Hugh Coleman have criticized each other, both for their campaign contributions and for their philosophies on the county’s road and bridge system in a mostly rural precinct.
White, 45, who serves as an ex-officio road commissioner, has contended that the system should remain as is because it provides residents more benefits than the old system.
“This [change] has been phenomenal for residents,” White said. “We finally have a system that puts an elected official directly responsible for the roads. We have also paved more roads and increased customer service.”
Coleman, 40, a former Denton County assistant district attorney, has advocated for returning to a county engineer system that would centralize the department under one building. He would also put a certified public engineer in place.
Under that system, Coleman said, the department would be free of influence from developers and campaign contributors, and run more efficiently.
Precinct 1 Commissioner's Race
“I want to take the politics out of roads,” he said. “My opponent de-evolved the system. I want to take this county into the future. We need someone who is certified by the state. We don’t need amateurs.”
By putting a county engineer in place, Coleman said, the county could save taxpayer dollars by eliminating contracts to Teague, Nall & Perkins and Innovative Transportation Solutions.
The county pays more than $14,000 per month to Teague, Nall & Perkins for engineering work, and Innovative Transportation Solutions has a yearly contract for more than $300,000 for consulting work.
White has said that Innovative Transportation Solutions is invaluable for the county, and that the county is working to hire a county engineer.
While the road issue has become the most debated topic, the candidates have exchanged blows to one another about political contributions.
Coleman has pledged not to take money from developers or vendors to ensure that his decisions wouldn’t be influenced if he is elected. Coleman has criticized White for taking $7,000 from developers and vendors.
“It colors your opinion,” he said.
Responding to allegations that she is too close to developers and vendors, White said her decisions are not affected. The county works to partner with those developers, and they get no benefits from her or the rest of the Commissioners Court, she said.
White pointed to a developer’s request to change the name of Byran and Fields roads, which she voted against.
Using the same argument on contributions, White has criticized Coleman for being backed by court-appointed attorneys. In past forums, she has called it illogical to not see a problem with those contributions.
However, Coleman said the judges, not the Commissioners Court, determine the attorneys’ pay, so those contributions could not influence how he served as commissioner.
Coleman has also questioned White’s desire to increase public safety in the county, and if elected, he said he would like to increase patrols and extend them to freshwater supply districts.
White refuted that comment by pointing to dozens of positions allocated to the sheriff’s office, but she cannot force how the sheriff uses them, she said. Coleman criticized that argument.
While the race has taken its twists and turns, it won’t end in March. Whoever comes out of the Republican primary will face Democratic candidate Phyllis Wolper in the general election.
The winner of that race will take office Jan. 1, 2009.
DAN X. McGRAW can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Trinity University; law degree from University of Tulsa
Occupation: Attorney for Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant
Years living in the county: Eight
Education: Bachelor’s degree from University of North Texas; work on master’s degree from UNT.
Occupation: Precinct 1 county commissioner
Years living in the county: 22
Through the first months of their campaigns, Hugh Coleman and Cynthia White have gone different directions to build their campaign war chests. Here is a breakdown of how much money the candidates have, who their biggest contributors are and how much they’ve spent.
Fund total: $31,369.19
Total contributions (including in-kind contributions): $22,049.59
Money spent: $16,211.07
Top contributors: $1,500 from Bruce Isaacks*; $1,000 from Douglas Coleman; $900 from Randall Hearne; $850 from Leslie Hudson; $500 from nine others
* includes an in-kind contribution
Fund total: $15,180.09
Total contributions (including in-kind contributions): $28,849.50
Money spent: $15,735.25
Top contributors: $2,500 from Phil Huffines; $2,500 from Don Huffines; $2,000 from the Texas Realtors Association; $1,000 from eight others
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