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: “Well my current job is I am a retired captain from Dallas PD and am in the reserves division. So I go up one or two days a month. I am in the reserve division. I am the captain over the interface with the police academy. Occasionally I will teach a class. I do work with the DYE team. I am no longer the commander. I am just one of the guys that helps out. I also participate and serve with the community service response team (CERT) in Dallas. It’s a program where we work with the Red Cross. That’s part of my nonpaid job that I do. Then I teach at Midwestern State University – criminal justice— and I teach at Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian University in the school of government.”
Q: Do you have a degree? Where from?
A: Bragg has an undergraduate degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal justice with an emphasis in administration from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Q: Are you married? Do you have children? What school district do they attend?
A: Bragg is married to Juanita Bragg. He has five adult children. Jack Richard Bragg the Third died as an infant. His other children are Melissa Ann Bragg, Richard Bragg, Jackelyn Bragg and Erie Price.
Q: Where are you involved in the community?
A: “I cook for the Tarleton rugby team. I’ve cooked ad hoc for FFA. At the Huckabay Baptist Church, for a while, we were working with Texas Baptist Men where we were working on this water well initiative, and they sent us a drilling rig that they had it built. We took it over and about four or five of us worked to get it up and running. I cooked for the 125th anniversary of Huckabay Baptist Church and for the community anniversary. I’m pretty busy.”
Q: How long have you lived in Erath County?
A: “We moved here about three and a half years ago.”
Q: What area of the county do you live in? Do you own the property you live on?
A: “I live on 121 just north of 1188. Yes.”
Q: Why are you qualified to be the county judge?
A: “I am uniquely qualified for this position because I have the education, the training and most importantly the experience in government of getting things done under extraordinary and unusual and sometimes very dangerous circumstances. I have a proven track record in delivering services of all kinds to the community.”
Q: Why are you running for county judge?
A: “I’ve spent my whole life in public service. So now I am at a point where I can go back and contribute. The county judge position is kind of the mayor of the county. It’s probably the position I am best qualified for and have the toolset to do. As a police commander, I was in charge of all the functions of my division and over the years I was involved in a lot of things related to the community whether it was midnight basketball or getting children inoculated or dealing with rundown houses and code enforcement. I interfaced with a lot of different people to address problems. I spent my whole life preparing to do a great job. I will work as hard as I can to address the issues that Erath county citizens are concerned about. Why do I want to run? Because I am still young enough and virile enough and still interested. I still enjoy teaching. I enjoy going to the police academy and teaching. I feel like I am at a point in my life where I can’t outdo God. The ability to be able to give back is a blessing. I had neighbors tell me that there was nobody in this county who had the experience that I do; we need you to run. I have never run for anything before.”
Q: What are the responsibilities of the county judge?
A: According to Braggs’ website, “In Texas, the county judge is both presiding officer of the commissioners’ court (Tex. Const. Art. V, Sec. 18) and judge of the county court (Tex. Const. Art. V, Sec. 15). As such, the judge is often thought of as the chief executive officer of the county. The duties of the county judge vary depending on the population of the county. In most rural counties, the judge has broad judicial responsibilities and is often the principal source of information and assistance. The judge’s duties as part of the commissioners’ court are detailed in the section on the court. It is incumbent upon the judge, as presiding officer of the commissioners’ court, to carefully abide by statutes requiring that meetings of governmental bodies be open to the public. Additional specific statutory charges are enumerated in the following: elections, finance, bonds and sureties, court operations, mental health, special districts, and general administration. In plain English, the County Judge takes care of the business of the county, provides leadership and vision to conduct business for the citizens in Erath County.”
Q: Do you view the county judge as a full or part-time job?
A: “This is absolutely a full-time job.”
Q: How would being elected affect your current career?
A: “I will just grade papers at night and, if I continue to do reserve policing, I will just do it on the weekends. It won’t be any different than when I was an active duty police officer.”
Q: How do you view the pay scale of the county judge position?
A: “That is absolutely a full-time job.”
Q: What would your number one priority be if you were elected?
A: “My first priority would be to meet all the people that work for and around the county judge. After I had met all those people that work for you or with you, I would want to reach out to the community and find out what the community stakeholders think is the number one problem. So, it’s kind of a two-tiered process. You find the bathroom and meet the staff. Then you hold community meetings and meet with people and they can tell you what is number one. That community is comprised of what I call homeowners and renters. Then there is the business community and the institutions in the community. I’ve done this many times in many divisions. You need a plan to find out what the resources are and what the needs are.”
Q: Are you a conservative or liberal?
A: “I am a conservative.”
Q: In the last statewide primary, did you vote in the Republican or Democratic primary?
A: “I have voted Republican for the last 30 or 40 years.”
Q: What are your credentials in the Republican party? Have you read and do you agree with the party platform?
A: “Yes, I have read the Republican party credentials. I have not been a participating member of any Republican groups.”
Q: Rank the following levels of government by importance: federal, state, county and city.
A: “In the words of Tip O’Neill, “All politics are local.” The local government determines the quality of life. Federal government should provide defense, health and welfare and things that cannot be provided at the local level. I think the most important level of government is the local level – municipal and county. They are the ones that interface with the state and federal governments.”
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 think decisions like that should be made in referendum by the voters. That would be my professional opinion as the county judge. The other issue is that as a police captain and a police officer I don’t have a lot of public opinions. The reason is that when people call the police or come before the commissioner’s court, they are looking for a professional person, an administrator who will dispense justice not someone who dishes their own philosophy about current events. I may have personal beliefs on things like Confederate monuments or welfare that I would not share as an administrator of the county.”
Q: Texas passed a law to move from concealed handgun licenses to licenses to carry. What is your opinion of this change?
A: “My wife and I taught concealed handgun classes for seven and a half years and ran a gun range. We were both active licensed carriers at that time and we taught hundreds of people to carry under that law. My wife and I are both benefiting members of the NRA and I support the second amendment. I don’t have any issue with the new law. I think that it’s probably nicer and more civil and polite to carry covertly. That’s only a personal preference. Legally I support the second amendment.”