Q and A with Erath County Judge Candidate Heath Allen

Photo courtesy of Heath Allen

Rachel Snyder

ERATH (March 3, 2018)– This article is part of a series on Erath County judge candidates. All interviewees were asked the same questions, and the interviews will be presented in Q and A format.

Q: What is your current career?

A: “I’m a lawyer here in town. My practice has been here for 13 years.”

Q: Do you have a degree? Where from?

A: ” I have a criminal justice degree from Tarleton in 1996, a juris doctor degree from the Texas A&M school of law in 2004.”

Q: Are you married? Do you have children? What school district do they attend?

A: Allen is engaged to Leah Owens. His 11-year-old daughter, Cadian Allen, attends Stephenville ISD.

Q: Where are you involved in the community?

A: “I’ve practiced law here for 13 years. I’ve represented children as an ad litem before every court in the county, serving as an advocate for their best interests. I am a member of Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the Texas State Rifles Association. I attend church at Edna Hill Baptist Church. I spend time with my daughter.”

Q: How long have you lived in Erath County?

A: “45 years. Well, 45 years and eight months. All my life. I came home from the hospital to Erath County.”

Q: What area of the county do you live in? Do you own the property you live on?

A: “Between Dublin and Stephenville — pretty much right in the middle. Yes.”

Q: Why are you qualified to be the county judge?

A: “I’ve answered to my own bottom line for 13 years in a business that, if you don’t operate it right, you don’t get a paycheck at the end of the week. In my law practice, I have seen a wide variety of management scenarios and every kind of governmental issue you can imagine. I’m an eighth generation Erath County resident. I care about my home county.”

Q: Why are you running for county judge?

A: “Over the summer my daughter and I had a garden. As we would be working in the garden in the evenings, different neighbors would stop by and mention that the incumbent was not seeking reelection. They would ask me if I would be interested in doing it. So, that is how I made the decision to do it is being asked by members of the community.”

Q: What are the responsibilities of the county judge?

A: “The county judge’s main obligation is to preside over the commissioners’ court. You’re virtually the county’s CEO. In Erath County that would be managing an annual budget of 13 million, and you have jurisdiction over emergency management. You set the agendas for the meetings and break ties if there is a tie. That’s about it.”

Q: Do you view the county judge as a full or part-time job?

A: “By statute, it’s not a full-time job. You are not precluded from having outside interests as long as there is not a conflict. So I will continue to operate my cattle ventures and things like that but nothing that would compete or conflict with the county’s best interests.”

Q: How would being elected affect your current career?

A: “Under Texas law, an attorney cannot practice if he is the county judge in courts that he would have jurisdiction over. So that would be every court in this county pretty much from the 266th on down to JP courts. It would be arguable if you could do it in municipal court, but I wouldn’t practice in Erath County.”

Q: How do you view the pay scale of the county judge position?

A: “I don’t have any issue with it. It is what it is. I don’t believe that it’s too far on either end of the spectrum. I think it’s about right.”

Q: What would your number one priority be if you were elected?

A: “A unified dispatch system. Currently, each law enforcement entity and fire department operate with their own dispatcher. Under a unified dispatch system, that would be unified where a single dispatch unit would have all calls from the county. When your house catches on fire in Duffau, every fire department in the county would know about it. It makes us a safer community. If we had any necessity for all the law enforcement to respond to, they would know as soon as the first one knows.”

Q: Are you a conservative or liberal?

A: “Conservative.”

Q: In the last statewide primary, did you vote in the Republican or Democratic primary?

A: “Republican.”

Q: What are your credentials in the Republican party? Have you read and do you agree with the party platform?

A: “In order to be on the Republican ticket, you have to swear to an oath to the platform. I have done that. You go through the proper channels to announce your candidacy and things like that, which I have done. I vote Republican all the way up the ballot. I do [agree].”

Q: Rank the following levels of government by importance: federal, state, county and city.

A: “In order of importance, I think state first. Our legislature is under tremendous pressure to create a system of ad filum taxation that is fair and all of the laws that we have to abide by. Under that is the county because that is how that money is spent and how our roads are maintained and how those funds are managed. City next because that is an integral part of economic growth and the way planning and zoning issues are taken care of. If a city looks at a potential business and says, “Here is what you are going to do if you come to our community,” that business is going to go to Granbury or Brownwood. If you say, “What can we do to bring your business here?” then the business is going to come here. We have seen that far too long here. Then the federal government is what’s left. They are what they are. I think the core of who we are is not on the federal level at all.”

Q: Confederate war monuments continue to be an issue across the nation. What is your opinion of the Confederate war monument in the courthouse square? If there were an initiative to remove it, who should decide?

A: “I am adamantly opposed to rewriting history. If the decision were to be made under my watch, it would have to be by voter referendum.”

Q: Texas passed a law to move from concealed handgun licenses to licenses to carry. What is your opinion of this change?

A: “I don’t have any issue with it at all. I am an avid gun owner and hunter, and I believe in our second amendment rights. They should be unfettered by all means.”

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