Four-way race begins to replace retiring sheriff

Posted 12/17/19

Four hopefuls have thrown their (mostly cowboy) hats into the ring to replace retiring Madison County Sheriff Travis Neeley, all Republicans.

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Four-way race begins to replace retiring sheriff

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Four hopefuls have thrown their (mostly cowboy) hats into the ring to replace retiring Madison County Sheriff Travis Neeley, all Republicans.

The four hopefuls for Madison County Sheriff include Les Neeley (cousin to the current sheriff), Jon Stubblefield, Billy J. Reeves and Bobby Adams. Because each candidate is a member of the same party, the March 3 Republican primary could potentially determine the overall winner. If nobody wins outright, a run-off election will be slated for May 26. The general election, which will include state and national office, is Nov. 3.

Other offices on the county slate are tax-assessor collector, two county commissioner seats and two constable openings. All candidates who filed for the open positions are Republican, moving the deciding election to the primary.

For tax assessor-collector, incumbent Karen Lane of Midway will face Shanah Grisham, also of Midway. For Precinct 1 county commissioner, incumbent Ricky Driskell of Madisonville will run against Matt Post, also of Madisonville.

In the Precinct 3 county commissioner race, incumbent Carl Cannon will run unopposed. Jim Jackson is unopposed for Constable Precinct 1, as is Charles Turner for Constable Precinct 2.

With four candidates seeking the party nomination, the race for sheriff is arguably the most competitive in the county.

Travis Neeley, who held the position from 1988-97 before returning for another stint in 2011, will retire at the conclusion of his term.

Les Neeley

Les Neeley brings 42 years of law enforcement experience to his candidacy. He was an investigator with the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office in Houston and worked on the Crimes Against Children task force before retiring July 31.

He owns a Master Peace Officer Certificate from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) and is a certified Cyber Crimes Investigator, Sexual Assault-Family Violence Investigator, instructor and field training officer.

“I want the citizens to know that, if elected your Sheriff, I will be a faithful steward of the tax-payers’ resources and I will never squander your money,” Neeley said.

While expressing admiration for the current department, Neeley outlined examples of changes he would like to see made if elected.

These included increased visibility of patrol personnel on county roads and neighborhoods. He expressed a desire to continue to expand the community policing philosophy of his predecessors.

“I want our deputies to know the folks in our communities and for the community to know them,” Neeley said.

He would also focus on working with county officials to obtain grant funds to continue upgrading county technology and training.

“I want our deputies, telecommunication and detention personnel to receive the best training available,” Neeley said. “I want them trained so well that they can go to work for any law enforcement agency in this state and I want to treat them so well that they won’t want to leave.”

Neeley has owned a house in Midway since 2007 but has roots in the county dating back to the 1800s.

“I would like for the public to look at the candidates and their qualifications and make their choice based on who you think would be best to run this department,” said Neeley. “I am ready to work with our judge and commissioners to bring this county the best law enforcement that we can.”

Jon Stubblefield

Jon Stubblefield, currently a deputy with the Leon County Sheriff’s Department and formerly a member of the Madisonville Police Department, has worn many hats during his 13 years in law enforcement.

He is also a Master Peace Officer. With the MPD, Stubblefield worked as a patrol sergeant, instructor, field training officer, Sex Offender Compliance investigator and was a member of the Child Abduction Response Team. He also oversaw property and evidence and was involved in code enforcement. He is currently involved with the Madison County Domestic Violence Task Force.

“Burglaries are really bad in this county and that goes hand-in-hand with drug users,” Stubblefield said. “I want to set up some new policies to target burglaries and also focus heavily on the drug activity in our county.”

Stubblefield also expressed a desire for change in certain policies regarding how crime scenes are processed, how evidence is handled and the paperwork that goes to the courts.

“I would like to work on receiving more grants for our county across the board,” Stubblefield said. “I would like to ask for another deputy as well as heavy emphasis and resources to drugs right off the bat.”

As a father active in Future Farmers of America, he also stressed a community involvement theme for his campaign.

“I have been on the Domestic Involvement task force for nine years,” Stubblefield said. “You really do not see the current sheriff involved in much of the school functions and other stuff throughout the community. That is one of the things I would like to change.”

Billy J. Reeves

Billy J. Reeves worked in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for 34 years with the Ferguson, Ellis and Eastham Units before retiring as an assistant warden three years ago.

His past positions include sergeant, lieutenant, investigator, main supervisor, captain, major (chief of security), assistant warden and maintenance supervisor.

“Building teams is my specialty,” Reeves said. “I have always been good at putting people in the right places. I know how to find the experts in each field and put them to work.”

During his career, he has handled millions of dollars’ worth of resources and made structural improvements to jail facilities. After over three decades in law enforcement, he is looking to add Madison County Sheriff to his resume.

“If you always do the same things you have been doing, you will always get the same results,” Reeves said. “I think we need a different approach to several things.”

Among these different approaches included traffic in the county as well as certain aspects of employment regarding law enforcement. Reeves states that most of the issues facing the sheriff’s department are administrative.

“We have employment issues with jailers and deputies that need to be addressed as far as things like pay or how those jailers are hired,” said Reeves.

Reeves, who has lived in Madison County for 45 years, stressed that he is running with a resident-first mentality.

“The voters need to know that I will put the citizens first,” said Reeves. “Because of my previous position, I also have access to state resources that may or may not be available to others. I stand firm when it comes to supporting the residents of this county. I am determined to make this a sanctuary county for good people.”

Bobby Adams

Bobby Adams worked in the TDCJ from 1982 until 2002 and currently works for the district attorney’s office as Chief Criminal Investigator. He has been involved in investigating every-thing from class C misdemeanors to homicide cases.

He worked for the TDCJ for 20 years before retiring as a lieutenant. He then obtained his peace officer license and worked as a volunteer officer in Houston before joining the Madison County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy.

Adams has investigated areas such as human trafficking, rural organized crime and child abuse. In 2004, he was awarded the Madison County Family Violence Advocacy Program Officer of the Year distinction. He is a member of the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association and the Sheriff’s Association of Texas.

“I would like to make the streets safer for all citizens,” Adams said. “This includes partnering with parents to keep our children away from drugs and eliminating drug dealers by seizing their assets. I will assure that no deputy works alone while maintaining 24-hour patrol, even if it means answering calls myself.”

Adams also highlighted the need of jail renovations and expansions rather than spending tax money on a new building, a thought was also expressed by Les Neeley.

“I am the only candidate that has worn a Madison County badge,” Adams said. “I know the citizens of this county and they know me. I have always been approachable and always will be. I am uniquely qualified with experience in corrections, patrol and prosecution.”

Adams was involved in the case that resulted in two life sentences without parole for Felicia Mulkey, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her own child.

The candidates convened at the Kimbro Center for a forum to meet the citizens of the county on Tuesday. Further information regarding each candidate can be accessed on their individual campaign’s Facebook pages.

March 3 voting will take place at the Madison County Courthouse, Midway Community Center, Elwood Baptist Church, North Zulch ISD and Sand Prairie Baptist Church. Early voting, which runs Feb. 18-28, will be located at the Madison County Courthouse and North Zulch ISD.

Voters wishing to vote in the primary face a Feb. 3 deadline to register.

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