LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Five candidates went in front of Lubbock County Commissioners Court Monday to interview for the vacant sheriff's seat. The men have more than 120 years of combined public service experience and the court expects to make an appointment Tuesday.
The commissioners say all five candidates are qualified and that they have a tough decision to make. They say Monday's interview process was about maintaining transparency and the candidates agree the process was fairly unconventional.
"We are looking at who will be the best for Lubbock County and who will get the job we need done," says Commissioner Patti Jones after Monday's interviews. The five candidates vying to be Lubbock County Sheriff each had one hour to put their best foot forward during an interview in front of the commissioner's court. "It was unusual because most of the men have not interviewed in front of other people before," says Jones. Each candidate took close to 40 minutes and appeared in order on the agenda, only Lubbock Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Kelly Rowe filled the full hour.
"My leadership style I firmly believe in the golden rule of leadership which is you set an example. When you do that you give a clear picture of where you want to be," says Rowe who left after his interview.
Animal Services Director Kevin Overstreet was the second to appear in front of the court. "I think it went well. There are five qualified candidates," says Overstreet.
U.S. Marshall Supervisory Deputy Ronnie O'Neal appeared before the court. He did not sit in on any of the other interviews. "I think it went really well. I expected more questions. I tried to put everything in writing before hand," says O'Neal.
Former Major, Deputy Don Carter also made his case for his candidacy. "I'm excited about the possibilities and that the commission wanted to ask a few more questions in public that had to do with my recent reassignment," says Carter. But when asked by the court about his recent reassignment he says Chief Rowe was involved, "I indicated the only thing in my file which is a memo for file that's authored by him. A recommendation by him for me to be relieved of my duty as Major," adds Carter.
Lubbock-Cooper Chief of Police Jesse Pena, Jr. was the last candidate to speak. "I expressed myself and they had some good questions and I hope they heard what needed to hear," says Pena.
"The one thing we can pride ourselves on is we've tried to take the politics out of it," says Jones about the process. The candidate interviews were consistent and conducted by the Commissioner's Court and the county Human Resources Director Greg George.
They were each asked a series of questions and all five say they want to use effective leadership to get the new jail opened quickly and to re-examine communication within the sheriff's office.
NewsChannel 11 contacted Chief Rowe for a comment after Deputy Carter's interview but did not hear back from him. The commissioners will continue discussion Tuesday during executive session behind closed doors at 10:30 a.m. Once the court appoints the new sheriff he must run for the position in the march primaries. If he loses, he'll continue to serve the remainder of the term until the newly elected sheriff is sworn in after the November 2010 election.
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