Fast forward: Election 2018

Tim Funchess, Mitch Templeton, Bailey Wingate, Annette Reedy

Early voting is barely underway for 2017’s Constitutional Election, with Election Day over a week out, but candidates are already looking forward to 2018.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Mitch Templeton told an audience in the Jefferson County Courthouse Impaneling Room there to hear the 28-year veteran attorney’s official announcement of intent to run for 172nd District Court Judge in 2018. Templeton, running onthe Republican primary ticket, has no announced opponent in his own political party – yet. But he does have contention from the Democratic Party, with former Beaumont ISD attorney Melody Chappell already tossing her hat into the ring for the position opening up as longtime 172nd District Court Judge Donald Floyd retires.

Official filing windows have yet to open for the 2018 primary races, but candidates are already letting county officials know their intent at the beginning of fundraising season with an official campaign treasurer already secured. Filing for the 2018 primary election opens Nov. 11 and closes Dec. 11.

In 2018, state offices will draw a crowd, with the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller of public accounts, commissioner of the General Land Office, commissioner of agriculture, and railroad commissioner all on the ballot.

United States representative for District 14 – a position currently held by Republican Randy Weber – is also up for a vote, as are various Supreme Court and Appeals Court seats at the state level.

Locally, Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry’s Office reports District Court judicial benches including the 172nd, Kent Walston’s 58th, Raquel West’s 252nd, Randy Shelton’s 279th, and Larry Thorne’s 317th are all up for a vote, as is Judge John Stevens’ Criminal District Court, the criminal district attorney position, Jeff Branick’s county judgeship, and all three County Court at Law benches.

Justice of the Peace Court judges, the county treasurer, two county commissioners, the district clerk, Republican and Democrat Party chairs, and even her own seat could see contests, the county clerk reports.

Guidry, a longtime public servant from the Democratic Party in the County Clerk’s Office, has not publicly declared her intent to stay in her job. However, she has already drawn an opponent in Republican Bailey Wingate, a young attorney who announced his intention earlier this month.

“We need fresh leadership in there,” Wingate said at his official candidacy announcement. He is running on a platform not of only change, he added, but of transparency, accountability, balanced budgeting and across-the-aisle cooperation. “We all have to take part in our community to make it the best it can be,” he said. “Good government starts on a local level, and working with everyone for the best outcome available is definitely the way to go.”

Templeton, who shares many of the same philosophies as his fellow hopeful, said that whoever takes up the 172nd District Court seat should possess the skill set necessary to perform the job well and also be free from the confines of the good ol’ boy system of Jefferson County politics.

“I’m beholden to no one but the community I serve,” Templeton said. “What we need in the courthouse now are public servants who aren’t part of the ‘regular’ system.”

Primary elections will be held in March for the Nov. 6, 2018, election.