Voters to decide county judge race
By 11/02/2006 00:00:00
WAXAHACHIE -One of this year's most hotly contested races in Ellis County is for the position of County Judge.
Incumbent Republican Chad Adams and former Waxahachie Mayor Chuck Beatty are vying for the county's top elected official seat.
The biggest issue facing the candidates was their positions regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Several cou-nty residents said they were opposed to the proposed toll road which would cut directly through the heart of Ellis County if built according to current designs.
In August, the Ellis County Commissioners Court approved a resolution to support a route westward of Ellis County paralleling Interstate 35 northward toward Texas Highway 360.
Adams and Commissioner Dennis Robin-son voted against the resolution citing the fact that they wanted to hear from the public at public hearings being held locally on the issue.
'We wanted to first hear from our public before we decided on our position,' Adams said.
After hearing the public outcry over the issue at the public hearings and during commissioner court meetings, Adams said he supported the court's decision to study a western alignment of the TTC to push it toward Johnson County.
He said as the county and state continues to grow more infrastructure would be needed, but all options need to be considered.
Beatty said he was totally opposed to the TTC noting right of way corridors along Interstates 35 and 45 could be expanded.
'And once the farms and businesses are destroyed, what will be left of air quality and our way of life?,' Beatty said in a campaign flyer. 'For that matter, what about homeland security ?'
Both candidates said they supported homeowners property rights.
'Through the efforts of Ellis County citizens to educate the court regarding changes in condemnation laws, I believe that these issues merit further review,' Adams said.
'I will oppose anything that is intended to relax condemnation proceedings and infringe upon property rights.'
Beatty said it was important that government be transparent allowing citizens to see what happens at every step of the progress.
'We are going to bring that openness back where people know what is going on in the county,' Beatty said.
Adams said he has worked hard to regain the public's trust, but noted there was more work to be done.
Established four years ago to reduce the backlog of cases in county's judicial system, Ellis County Court at Law No. 2's seat has also come up for re-election.
Judge Gene Calvert Jr. currently presides as judge in Ellis County's newest court, but was facing opposition this year from Cindy Hellstern, a veteran of the Ellis County District Attorney's office for more than a decade.
In four years Calvert has presided on more than 25,000 cases with only one pre-trial motion being overturned on appeal.
'My court is consistently rated among the most efficient courts in the state,' Calvert said.
'In the four years I've been on the bench, my staff and I have successfully reduced the large backlog of cases this court inherited while increasing the speed with which cases are resolved.'
While Calvert is the only candidate with judicial experience, Hellstern has worked in appeals courts as a briefing attorney on the First Court of Appeals in Houston and as a staff attorney for the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas.
'I believe my extensive experience in criminal law will serve the citizens of Ellis County well,' Hellstern said.
'As their judge, I pledge to be ethical, efficient, and fair.'
Both have deep Ellis County roots as Calvert's family hails from Waxahachie and Hellstern was raised in Ennis.
Before being elected as judge Calvert worked as a prosecutor and defense attorney in criminal cases.
He also has specialized training as a mediator from the National Mediation Academy, SMU and Baylor University.
Hellstern said she has extensive experience in handling misdemeanor criminal cases, juvenile cases, mental health cases and family violence protective orders. She was named 'Best Prosecutor' in Ellis County by Texas Lawyer in 2004 based on a survey of local attorneys.