Justice of the Peace candidates Mitchell Dill and Steven Cole will face each other in the May 22 runoff election.
The two were the top vote-getters in the February Republican primary out of six candidates that filed for Precinct 2, with Dill garnering 245 votes to Cole’s 310.
The runoff was set since neither candidate picked up the necessary 50.1 percent of the vote. And since no Democratic candidates have filed, the runoff could mean the winner becomes the next JP.
The position of JP, which for this race encompasses County Commission Precincts 3 and 4, handles offenses that are punished by no more than a $500 fine only. There also is a limitation of $10,000 on civil actions, with the exception of real estate.
The former law enforcement officer said that should he be elected, he will spend the first months learning the job, and until the, could not comment on how to improve it.
He said the primary, and the time leading up to the runoff, has been a positive experience, and has been talking with county residents and most of the feedback is encouraging.
“I think I’m prepared for the position by virtue of my employment history,” he said. “The office is a logical progression for me. Also, in my position as bailiff, I was able to learn a great deal from the judges.”
Dill said he was a former employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, and after retiring, he became the Madison County bailiff for district and county courts, and stayed in that position till March of 2017.
Dill said any elected official is a steward of the public trust, and would try every day to be worthy of the trust the voters have placed in me.
He also said he will offer fair and impartial treatment, and plans to promote public safety issues.
“Everyone will be on a level playing field, and each case will be taken on its own merits,” he said. “Everyone will get an equal slice of the justice pie.”
Steven Cole, who was the top vote-getter in the primary, said he, like Dill, would need to learn the job in the first few months, but plans to seek input from everywhere.
“I plan on shadowing (retiring JP) Lew Plotts to see how he does the job, and see how the two JPs intermingle,” he said.
One plan Cole does have is to seek any type of funding in the form of grants that he can.
“I’m going to get everything I can out of the federal government, hopefully if we don’t have to jump through hoops to get it,” he said.
Cole is working at the TDCJ Ferguson Unit as a program supervisor in the mop and broom factory and the saddle shop, and has been in the law enforcement field for 24 years.
He also is a lifelong Madison County resident, has a degree in in business administration from Sam Houston State University and has attended Ten Mile Church for years, where he serves as a deacon.
"The rule of law is key, and should be applied to everybody," he said. "I will always be firm, fair and consistent."