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Obamas effect could bring upset

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TREVOR O’MEARA

and JOEY DAUBEN

The Ellis County Press

PALMER – National implications have turned the race for Precinct 1’s commissioner race into a closely watched contest featuring incumbent Dennis Robinson, R-Palmer, and Democratic challenger Brod-erick Sargent, D-Waxahachie.

With Barack Obama topping the Democratic ticket, political observers in the county predict an upset with Sargent – who, like Obama is also black – coming out on top.

Early voting begins

Oct. 20 for the Nov. 4 race

Sargent’s reasons for seeking the seat for the second time – he first ran in 2004 as a Republican against Robinson and three others – include bringing new leadership to the commissioner’s court.

"To serve the county," Sargent said.

"To work hard to improve the leadership of the commissioners’ court by leading our county’s economic development [while] bringing Ellis County into a new era of prosperity."

A former Dallas Cowboys fullback, Sargent served on the Waxahachie City Council, losing several months after his bid for county commissioner failed.

When asked what problems were regarding the current commissioner, Sargent answered, "refer question to current commissioner."

Sargent also wants to have a role in overseeing the county’s zoning rules and regulations – a platform plank he publicly supported in 2004 – and having an open door policy of communication with voters.

Robinson, meanwhile, will have to answer to his constituents’ concerns over roads and a recent elected official’s pay raise. Though Robinson voted against the most recent 4 percent raise that upped commissioners’ salaries to $75,276, he voted for the one last year, a $10,000 increase.

"I have four years of experience that I believe will be very valuable to me in administering our $1.5 million road and bridge budget here at Precinct 1," said Robinson, whose uncle, Hallie, served eight years before him. "This budget is used for the construction, maintenance and improvement of our county roads. Over the four years that I have been in office I have gain valuable knowledge on the issues and concerns that we are faced with today, and that we will be faced with in the future."

Asked about the status of Precinct 1 being the county’s "minority" district, both candidates said they were seeking to represent all of the voters.

"It is true that when the precinct lines were drawn up in the year 2000 Precinct 1 was drawn up to have a large block of minority voters," Robinson said. "I do not believe that it will have any implications in my election; as an elected official I work for all citizens in my district regardless of race, nationality or political party. I hope that the voters will look at my record, and my opponent’s record and past, and vote for the candidate that they can trust and who is qualified to serve and represent all citizens in Precinct 1."

Sargent could benefit, however, from the Obama candidacy in Precinct 1.

"The mission of the commissioner court is to serve the community and goals above and beyond that mission everyday by providing life-saving services for the rich and the poor and the young and the old while embracing the beauty of diversity to the next generations," Sargent said.


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