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Republican Primary, Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Gregg County Races

Gregg County District Attorney

• Represents the state in prosecuting felony and misdemeanor criminal cases.
• Works with law enforcement officers in the investigation of criminal cases.
• Presents cases to the grand jury.
• Represents victims of violence in protective orders and represents the state in removing children from abusive households.
• Provides legal advice to the Commissioners Court and to other elected officials.
• Brings civil enforcement actions on behalf of the county
This office is budgeted for 32 employees and has an annual budget of $2.64 million.
The District Attorney is elected to four terms in a county wide election. Incumbent Darl Dorrough, who has held the office for ten years is seeking re-election.

Tom Watson


Carl Dorough


For Gregg County District Attorney we believe it is time for a change and support the candidacy of Longview native Tom Watson. Prior to pursuing the practice of law, Tom spent several years as a Kilgore Police Officer, Detective and Agent with the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force. During his law enforcement career, Tom took night courses and was able to complete his Bachelor Degree graduating magna cum laude in 2002. Shortly thereafter, he was encouraged by District Judge David Brabham and former District Attorney Bill Jennings to pursue a career in law. In fact, Jennings made a phone call to the Chancellor of Texas Tech School of Law recommending Tom’s admittance.
After completing law school, Jennings recruited Tom away from a Lubbock law firm to come back home to work as a prosecutor in the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office. Tom worked as a prosecutor for approximately three years before entering private practice with Phillips, Watson & Gilchrist, LLP in Kilgore.

Watson and his wife Chandra have two children and are members of New Covenant Church in Longview.

We join the members of law enforcement who, in an unprecedented move, have publicly endorsed Tom Watson over the incumbent D.A. Those include Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano, the Longview Police Officer's Association, the Kilgore Police Association, the Police Chiefs of White Oak and Kilgore and CLEAT (Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas). The mere fact that a united front of law enforcement is turning their back on the incumbent District Attorney and publicly supporting a challenger should make voters take pause.

Law enforcement officials voice numerous complaints about Dorrough and how he conducts his office. They must get an arrest warrant approved by the DA before they can arrest violent offenders under certain circumstances and they allege Dorrough has so tightened the process and is requiring so many conditions being met that it is interfering with their ability to do their job effectively. They also complain about dismissals of cases and refusal to prosecute cases by the District Attorney without giving them any explanation. They are concerned about the number of "soft" plea bargain agreements and disturbed by the very low conviction rate in domestic abuse cases.

Many feel that the current District Attorney has not been aggressive enough and efficient in prosecuting criminals. One of the main complaints is the fact that many offenders have languished in the county jail for years at taxpayer's expense awaiting trial. It costs the taxpayers $30.94/day to house an inmate. That totals $11,293.00 per year. (And that does not include medical and dental treatment costs and costs of paying attorneys to represent indigent criminals.)

Last year at one time there were four criminals charged with serious violent crimes who had been held in the Gregg County jail for OVER FIVE YEARS without going to trial and having their cases resolved. The cost to the taxpayers of incarcerating just those four prisoners was over $225,000! Numerous others had been there over two, three or four years.

An additional cost is that of paying attorneys to represent indigent criminals charged with felonies. Those lawyers are paid $85/hour for their services. It seems reasonable to assume that the longer a case drags on, the more billable hours accrue. One local attorney received over $327,000 over the last 3 years! The total spent is in excess of $1.1 million annually. Is it more than coincidence that many criminal defense lawyers are supporting Mr. Dorrough and contributing thousands of dollars to his campaign while none are supporting Watson?

It is easy to see how the delays, whatever the reason, have over time cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once the criminal defendant has been convicted he or she is transferred to the state jail system and costs of incarceration shift from the County to the State.

It should be noted that since Tom Watson announced his intention to run, the current District Attorney has become much more visible and is rushing to diminish the backlog of prisoners held for many years. Too bad he did not do that years ago.

Below are links to newspaper articles relevant to the above:



Gregg County District Clerk

• Serves as clerk and custodian of all records for the District Courts.
• Indexes and secures all court records, collects filing fees, and handles funds held in litigation and money awarded to minors.
• Coordinates the jury panel selection process.
• Process passport applications.
• Manages court registry funds.

There is a budgeted staff of 20 employees and an annual budget of just over one million dollars. This is an open seat as the current District Clerk Barbara Duncan is retiring.

Trey Hattaway

Jhazmyne Johnson

Britnie Minor

For District Clerk we give the nod to Trey Hattaway. At 51, he will bring to the job the maturity and managerial experience that is needed. Hattaway has stated that if elected to the District Clerk position, his goals for the Clerk’s office would be to continue to improve and advance customer service, increase record-keeping efficiency and accuracy of fee collection, maintain evidence and protect record privacy, and keep pace with evolving technology. He also vows to reduce the high turnover rate among the employees of the District Clerk's office.

With a deep background in higher education administration and registration, Hattaway is currently the Director of Enrollment Management/Marketing at Kilgore College. He has also held the position of Registrar – Tyler Junior College, Director of Recruitment – Tarleton State University, and Director of Orientation and Development Officer – Texas Tech University. Hattaway has also served as President of the 1,000-member Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admission Officers (TACRAO), 2010-2011.

Hattaway is a proven leader with a record of service that features professional and community commitments. At present, he is an elected member of the Kilgore Independent School Board and a member of the Kilgore Education Foundation board.

Hattaway was also a sports journalist for the San Antonio Express News.

Personally, Hattaway is an active member of First Presbyterian Church and family man. He is married to his wife of 15 years, Jennifer Hattaway, and is the proud father of 14-year-old twins, Abby and Thomas.

Born in Marshall, Texas, Hattaway graduated from Kilgore High School in 1984 and went on to earn a Bachelor of the Arts degree in journalism and a Master of Science in Agriculture Education from Texas Tech University.

His years as a college administrator and as an elected member of the Kilgore ISD board will serve him well in this office with 20 employees and an annual budget of over one million dollars.

His opponents are 28 year old Jhazmyne Johnson and 32 years old Britnie Minor who both currently work in the District Clerk's office. Both stress their ability to do the work at every desk in the office but their relative youth and lack of senior management experience is problematic. One is reminded that while someone may be a great auto mechanic that person may not have the skill set to run the dealership.

Most people consider voting not only a privilege but an obligation of citizenship. Gregg County voting records reveal the following about these three candidates' voting record over the last decade in the Republican Primary and General Elections.


Name 2010
2014 General 2016

Gregg County Clerk

• Serves as clerk and custodian of records for the Commissioners Court, Constitutional County Court and Statutory County Courts.
• Acts as a recorder and custodian of important public records, including all bonds, deeds, birth and death certificates, assumed names and livestock brands, ensuring that records are maintained in a secure, archival manner.
• Issues marriage licenses.

This office is budgeted for 22.5 employees and has an annual budget of $1.35 million.This is an open seat since incumbent County Clerk Connie Wade is not seeking re-election.

Michelle Gilley

"Dugg" Burks



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For County Clerk, Michelle Gilley is clearly the better choice for voters. She has 13 years experience working in the Gregg County Courthouse. Three years of that time was spent as Civil/Probate Clerk in the County Clerk's office. For the past ten years she has served as the Court Coordinator of County Court at Law #1 for Judge Becky Simpson and now Judge Kent Phillips.

She knows her way around the courthouse and the County Clerk's office and is widely respected for her knowledge, work ethic and overall demeanor.

She and her husband Shane have three children and they attend First Christian Church in Kilgore. She is an avid outdoors person and an incredible bass fisherwoman, entering and winning big time bass tournaments over the years.

Little is known about her opponent, "Dugg" Burks. An internet search produced no results. No photo of Mr. Burks is available. He is the only candidate for county wide office who reported zero contributions to his campaign.

Paid for by Texas Bipartisan Justice Committee;
John Coppedge, M.D., Treasurer
1725 FM 2751 Longview, Texas 75605