It was a great night for Kerr County on Wednesday as the candidates to replace retiring Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer touted their credentials and experience.
While it wasn’t the liveliest of events, the forum that was moderated by Hierholzer demonstrated that there’s high interest in seeing who is best prepared to replace the sheriff of 20 years.
Firstly, the forum was organized by the folks at website Kerrville United, Hill Country Community Journal, Jam Radio and Schreiner University. Kerrville United provided a live video stream of the forum, while Jam carried it live on its radio stations. Held at Schreiner University, the forum attracted a standing-room-only crowd of supporters, law enforcement officers and other elected officials to see the responses from Wayne Funk, Elias Garcia, Tommy Hill, Mitch Lambdin, Larry Leitha and Carol Twiss.
The candidates answered 13 questions, including 12 that were vetted by the committee that planned the event. It was a fairly wonky night of policy positions and questions versus some theoretical ideas about law enforcement.
Hierholzer routinely provided context about the challenges of running the department, including his biggest duty, which is supervising the jail. While a lot of people think law enforcement is all about arresting bad guys, Hierholzer spent plenty of time explaining state and federal laws about how the county can handle prisoners.
He also provided plenty of commentary about what he had not done, including adhering to federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, which would require the county to provide more careful accommodations for transgender inmates.
While there was some dullness to the evening, it was an important discussion for the public to hear about the challenges facing those who want to succeed the veteran sheriff, who has worked hard to manage a small department that is increasingly pressed by the forces of urban creep and modernity.
In the end, it was a job, well done to all those who participated and left us with the feeling that we have six people who believe in this community and raised their hand to serve. No matter the outcome of the election, we are grateful for all of them deciding to enter the race.
MISS: Factual claims
We admit that we need to do a better job of fact checking some of our letters, but once in a while a whopper will slide by us. On Thursday, a writer said there were more than 18,000 people in Kerrville in 1968. The 1970 Census tells a far different story and that 19,454 people called Kerr County home, including 12,672 in the city of Kerrville.
In fact, it’s interesting to note that from 1960 to 1970, the city of Kerrville grew by 42% — the second biggest bump in the city’s history, based on the decennial Census. Kerrville’s population didn’t top 20,000 until either the late 1990s or 2000, according to the Census.
HIT: Reconnecting to the past
If there was one event that proved to be uplifting, it was last Saturday’s Doyle School Black History Month Celebration, where the guest speaker was Sylvia Doyle — the great-granddaughter of school founder Annie Doyle.
It wasn’t just the power of the Doyle connection coming home to Kerrville, but the powerful remembrance of a time when separation based on race was the norm. However, the powerful memories of that time and the school tell another story.
“Doyle students were taught the importance of respect and love,” said Mabel Neal, who attended the school in the 1940s. “And the importance of giving back to the community. This we would do.”
Attending the Doyle School was the reality for black children before Kerrville Independent School District was integrated in 1964. For Neal, however, the school represented something greater.
“Above all, our teacher’s loved us, and they did not shrink in showing us that they loved us, and what they expected of us,” she said during her remarks on Saturday.
“All of these things happened because a lady named Mrs. Doyle had a vision, and this spirit still lives on. May we always continue to carry this spirit.”
We would have to agree with that vision and spirit.