Q and A with Erath County Judge Candidate Shelby Slawson

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 do a few different things. I am a licensed attorney. I primarily have represented businesses, property owners and estates. I’ve been licensed since 2003 and have been in practice here my entire legal career. I first worked for a law firm downtown but since 2008 have worked for myself. I am also a director and vice president of Slawson Roofing. My husband and I have owned Slawson Roofing since 2006. My responsibilities include finance and personnel. I am also the CEO of our rental property business, Erath Rentals. I am responsible for our budgets and finance, mission and goals, the structure of the company. I don’t do the day-to-day calls. I am also the CEO of Stephenville For Rent, which is a rental marketing company. It’s an online classified that works with several dozen different landlords in town to feature their listings.”

Q: Do you have a degree? Where from?

A: Slawson’s undergraduate degree is in government and politics from UT Dallas. Her law degree is from UT Austin.

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

A: Slawson is married to Joe Don Slawson. She has a 24-year-old son, Jeremy, a nine-year-old daughter, Sophie, and a four-year-old, Etta. Sophie attends Stephenville ISD.

Q: Where are you involved in the community?

A: According to Slawson’s website, she is involved in the following:

  • First Baptist Church Stephenville – Member; Ministry Advisory Council Member
  • Stephenville Type B Economic Development Authority – Director; Board Secretary
  • Stephenville Annexation Committee – Vice Chair
  • Stephenville Education Foundation – Director (2014-2017); current volunteer member
  • Stephenville ISD Facilities Planning Committee – committee member
  • Backpack Buddies of Erath County – Chair
  • Heritage Hills Neighborhood – Chair of volunteer streetlight program for community safety
  • Community Columnist, Stephenville Empire-Tribune (2010 – present)
  • Erath County Bar Association – Member (past President)
  • Leadership Stephenville, Class of 2017 – Class President
  • Guest Lecturer – Landlord/Tenant law, Tarleton State University, Business Law II (Fall 2016 & 2017)
  • Presenter, Erath County Bar Association’s Community Estate Planning Seminar (2009)

Q: How long have you lived in Erath County?

A: “My family moved here in 1988. Other than the time I was away getting my college degrees, I have lived here.”

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

“I live just outside the city limits of Stephenville. Yes, we own numerous properties.”

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

A: “I think I am uniquely qualified because of the combination of executive business experience, community leadership experience and being a licensed attorney. The law license is not a requirement for the office. The only requirement is that the judge be well-versed in the law. I do think a degree is beneficial.”

Q: Why are you running for county judge?

A: “I have been as you can see very involved in the community for many years. I care a whole lot about how we are addressing some of our growth challenges and opportunities. Since the 2010 census was done, the county has seen a little over 5,000 people move into our county. We know that there are a lot of people coming in. We know that there is a lot of challenges associated with that. We know that our people, if you listen to them, really want more opportunities for good paying jobs to support their families. They want their basic infrastructure needs to be consistently met. They want good roads that are safe to drive on. They want law enforcement that is appropriately staffed and equipped to keep us safe in our community and to have that good family focused feel to it. After participating in a variety of different committees and activities that have that same focus, my passion and drive for working in those areas has continued to grow. Our county judge serves as the CEO of the county and has a lot of responsibilities that are relevant to the committees that I have been involved in. So knowing the transition that is coming to our courthouse with the retirement of the county judge, I decided to run because I believe I have a background that will provide relevant experience to how we approach these challenges. I want to be proactive in addressing economic development, infrastructure, our budgets. But, at the root of it, I have a passion for service and making a difference.”

Q: What are the responsibilities of the county judge?

A: “The county judge functions as the chief executive officer of the county and has a variety of administrative and judicial duties. It’s a pretty broad range and encompasses everything from presiding over the commissioners’ court and ensuring that those meetings comply with the open meetings act, which is a pretty critical responsibility for ensuring transparency for the citizens. The judge is the primary budget officer for the county and is responsible for working with different departments. We have over 50 different departments with different budgets. The county judge is responsible for working with those departments in compiling what their budget will look like for the ensuing year. The county judge then presents that to the commissioners’ court. The four commissioners and the judge have a vote on that budget. The judge serves on the juvenile probation board with the district judge and the county court-at-law judge. The county judge and commissioners are responsible for development and implementation of rural development and subdivision ordinances. Those are pretty critical because a lot of the growth that has happened around here occurred outside the city limits. The judge receives economic development incentive applications and he and the commissioners’ court administer those. That is important for our local industry. The judge is the emergency management policy coordinator working with the emergency management coordinator. The judge administers the indigent health program and is the signatory on county contracts. There is a variety of judicial functions from small claims to JP appeals to magistrate responsibilities.”

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

A: “It’s a full-time job.”

Q: How would being elected affect your current career?

A: “My law practice would close. The roofing office would continue but I would not be performing those functions that I have been. The same is true of the rental businesses. But the law practice would close because I am the only one who can deliver the legal services.”

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

A: “I think it’s about right. ”

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

A: “Conservative fiscal management. Our county is very fortunate to be in exceptional financial health. We have a very minimal amount of debt that is related to the expansion of our jail. Not all counties can claim that. So, conservative financial stewardship is very important.”

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: “I have voted in the Republican party primaries as long as I can remember. I pulled my voter history going back November of 2004 and I have voted in the Republican party primary at least since then. I usually am an early voter.”

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

A: “At some point, I had supported the national party, sent a check. But I didn’t feel like that was necessarily the best way to make a difference. So I have not continued to do that. Instead, I have engaged locally in the volunteer aspect.”

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

A: “The way I define importance is what has the most influence over day to day life. The city part depends on whether you live inside or out of the city limits. So, I would put county, city, state and federal. The decisions that are made at the local level affect us every single day from the roads we drive on to the water we drink. I think for most of us those have the greatest impact on our quality of life. It is also where most of us can make the biggest difference in protecting that quality of life.”

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 don’t support removing any of our monuments. They were placed there to honor those who served. If there were to be a movement to remove any of them, that should be decided by the citizens in 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 support it. I am a CHL holder.”

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