Ector County residents of Precinct 2 will be without a justice of the peace for a short time longer as two candidates remain in the race for the vacant position for the May runoff election.
Following a March Republican primary, the field of candidates for the Precinct 2 seat was dwindled down from seven to two: Missi Walden and Matthew Stringer, who received a little more than half of the vote combined. The other five candidates were Gary Dunda, Marvin Jennings, Jet Brown, Sheryl Jones and Steven Westfall.
The seat has been vacant since Judge Christopher Clark vacated the position in early January to fill the vacant seat of County Court at Law No. 2 judge.
Justices of the Peace handle class C misdemeanor cases, like traffic tickets, and small claim civil cases with a jurisdictional limit of $10,000, like land lord and tenant disputes.
Walden and Stringer, who are both Republicans, come from two different backgrounds. Walden has nearly 30 years of legal experience, working as a court coordinator for the past 13 years, and currently serving in that role for the 161st District Court.
Stringer has a small business background, working as a jeweler for his family’s business and was a Republican national delegate and as a presidential elector of the Electoral College during the 2016 Presidential Election.
For Walden, it’s her experience in the courtroom that she said makes her the best candidate for the job.
“I’m the only candidate with any type of legal experience, and most officially, experience working in a court, so I obviously feel like I’m the most qualified person for the job,” Walden said.
Walden said that one change she plans on making should she be elected to the position, which she has done working in the 161st District Court, would be to make the court as paperless as possible, which she said would help increase efficiency and cut down costs.
Stringer said his background gives him experience with the duties and jurisdictions of the office, and said his small business background will help him address the county’s criminal justice infrastructure, dealing with issues such as the Ector County Courthouse.
“I not only want to provide an efficient and accountable court where due process is observed, but I want to help address some of the major issues that our community is facing.”
Stringer said he wants to set a new standard of accountability in the office as well, producing annual reports detailing what his office did, how many cases were processed, and what their budget was.
The runoff election for the position will take place on May 22, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting will begin May 14 and conclude May 18. Whoever wins the runoff will be the de facto winner, as there is no Democratic challenger for the position.
There will also be a forum for both candidates held by the Ector County Republican Women for Stringer and Walden to discuss their platforms and talk with constituents at noon Wednesday at the Odessa Country Club, 1 Fairway Drive.
- What: Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Forum.
- When: Noon Wednesday.
- Where: Odessa Country Club, 1 Fairway Drive.
- Last day to register to vote: April 23.
- First day of early voting: May 14.
- Last day of early voting: May 18.
- Election Day: May 22.
- What: Justice of the Peace Precinct 2
- How long: Four years.
- Salary: $63.712; auto allowance – $5,050; fringe benefits – $28,578.