Three people have chosen to run for the vacant Gregg County Pct. 4 commissioner post.
John Mathis held the office through December with his retirement becoming effective the last day of 2017.
Shannon Brown, G. Floyd and Kasha Williams have all filed for the upcoming election to represent the people located in precinct 4, which includes a portion of Kilgore.
Brown and Williams will face off in the primary election March 6 before that winner takes on Floyd in November.
Brown previously campaigned for the office, opposing Mathis’ re-election.
Brown now serves as mayor of Easton and has been a member of the Easton City Council since 2007 – as a council member and then as mayor pro-tem.
A UPS driver, Brown is a native of Kilgore, graduating from Kilgore High School in 1990 before going on to attend Kilgore College and then Wiley College. While delivering packages throughout the community, Brown said, he has seen many areas of the precinct.
Even beyond the need for road and bridge improvements, he said, “I want to be a leader that brings more jobs to the precinct and leads people out of poverty.”
He has interacted with the county through his leadership positions in Easton.
Since filing for the March 6 primary as a Democrat, Brown said, he has been meeting voters and talking with them about their opinions and what changes they want to see in their communities.
“I think I’m the most qualified for that position,” he said, citing his work in annexing land, creating a sales tax in his community and working with grants and the city’s budget.
Growing up in Kilgore and now living Easton, Brown said, he understands the needs of both communities.
“You kind of get an idea of what it’s like,” he said. “I want to bring more jobs to precinct 4 and lift the people out of poverty… Really give people an opportunity to change their lives.”
Brown wants to see the city and county working together to bring more companies to the far side of the county and develop employment opportunities.
Some other areas he wants to focus on are police relations and expanding the Interstate 20 corridor.
“I think that’s a great idea,” Brown said about the I-20 expansion. “We just need to make the steps to make it happen.”
He also has an idea of the roads and bridges in the precinct that need attention due to conditions or drainage problems.
Brown also wants to continue work being done by Judge Bill Stoudt (who is also up for re-election and running unopposed) on mental health issues.
When people find out Brown is running for the commissioner seat, he said, they will come up to him and want to talk to him about concerns they have.
Brown said he learned from the last campaign and said if he is elected his concern will be precinct 4, but when it comes to making decisions that affect Gregg County as a whole, he will be satisfied as long as precinct 4 is not hurt by the choices.
A member of the Longview City Council, Williams decided to run for the position of precinct 4 commissioner as a way to expand her work to the county level to serve the citizens of Gregg County.
“I believe that we have to elect candidates who are committed to the constituents and the most qualified to do the job,” she said.
Williams was elected to the Longview City Council in 2011 and has been a liaison for streets, beautification, public housing, public transportation, Longview Economic Development Corporation, East Texas Council of Governments and the comprehensive plan commission.
“I’ve been intimately involved in all of those area and all of those areas we’ve seen successes that have affected district 3 but also the city of Longview at large,” she said.
The campaign for the commissioner seat has been similar to the one she ran for the Longview City Council position, but more intense because of the larger scale.
“The campaign so far has been full of energy and enthusiasm… The difference is now we have more ground to cover,” she said.
In meeting with people throughout the precinct, she said, she has met with many voters and has found each family and each community have their own individual needs.
“I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the constituents in each city and where the direction each city is headed,” she said. That includes learning how the cities and counties work together, noting she has read budgets for each city in precinct 4 to see how they each work with the county and together through various agreements.
Williams, the first to file for the position, will face off against Brown during the March 6 Democratic primary.
Williams is hesitant to make any promises now about what she hopes to change in the office, saying her first priority if she is elected will be have a clear understanding of what is currently in place and the allocation of taxpayer dollars.
“It’s important to first evaluate the current situation, a deep dive, and then take the necessary steps to implement changes if they’re necessary,” she said.
One thing she has committed to do if she is elected is host two town hall meetings per year in each community in precinct 4, including Kilgore, Longview, Lakeport and Easton.
“I want to hear from the constituents,” she said. “That will help me to be able to be a better elected official once I have an understanding of their needs… I will keep an open door policy.”
Born and raised in Longview, G. Floyd has become a semi-regular attendee of Gregg County Commissioners Court, Longview City Council and Longview ISD meetings.
With an associate of applied science degree from Texas State Technical College, a political science bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and a masters of business administration in financial analysis from DeVry University, Floyd said, he has the educational background to represent the citizens of Gregg County precinct 4, noting he also completed one year of law school at Texas Southern University.
After leaving East Texas for his education and to teach closer to the Houston area, Floyd, a master teacher, moved back to Longview in 2010.
During 2013 and 2014, Floyd traveled around the precinct with John Mathis seeing first-hand the work he did as commissioner.
“That got me an idea about this might be an opportunity for me to be able to do that,” Floyd said.
Floyd previously ran – ultimately, unsuccessfully – for Longview City Council, district 3 in 2014 and then for mayor of Longview in 2015.
“I’m not scared, and I’m not afraid of not being successful either… A part of success is not to be successful, so I feel like that I have a lot to offer to this position also, again because of the numerous amount of times that I’ve actually attended the meetings, the time that I actually spent with Mr. Mathis actually doing the job and being familiar with it,” he said, noting he understands the statutes, codes and laws the Commissioners Court reviews.
As the only Republican in the race, Floyd will face the Democratic candidate elected during the March 6 primary election.
The winner of the Democratic primary – March 6 – between Brown and Williams will move on to the November general election against Floyd.