The Facts- Oct 22, 2016
A Fort Bend county deputy and Brazoria County narcotics supervisor are competing to replace Precinct 4 Constable Fred Kanter in the upcoming general election.
Angleton resident and Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant of Narcotics James Brawner defeated P.R. “Pete” Gamboa during the Republican primary election and will now face Democrat Lance Willis for a job that carries a four-year term and $81,050 annual salary.
Raised in Danbury, Brawner and his wife Holly Amason Brawner, who graduated from Columbia High School, have two children, Gavin, 10, and Brooke, 6.
Brawner, 43, is a U.S. Navy veteran and volunteered five years with the Danbury Volunteer Fire Department. He also has donated time providing law enforcement security for numerous events, including working with the Women’s Center. Most recently, Brawner served as the little league board president and coach.
He is a member of the Danbury and West Columbia Masonic Lodge, a board member of the Mattson Ringgold American Legion Post and board member of the Sweeny Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.
Additionally, Brawner is part of the following organizations: Justice of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas, Texas Narcotic Officers Association, Texas Tactical Police Officer Association, Texas Municipal Police Association, Brazoria County Peace Officers Association, Texas State Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association.
He is a lifetime member of the Brazoria County Fair Association and part of the Republican Party of Texas.
A graduate of Danbury High School, Brawner attended college at at Alvin Community College, College of the Mainland and Rio Salado College.
A Manvel resident and Fort Bend County deputy, Willis was born and raised in Houston.
The 32-year-old is married to family nurse practitioner Daunay Willis and has three children.
He is a little league football coach as well as volunteers with Alvin ISD and the Watchdogs.
Willis received a bachelor’s of science in criminal justice from Lamar University, an associate of arts from Houston Community College and attended the Bill Blackwood Texas Constable’s Leadership College Graduate at Sam Houston State University.
Neither men have previously sought or ran for public office.
Early voting begins Monday and ends Nov. 4 with Election Day on Nov. 8.
The winner will be sworn into office on Jan. 1 and will oversee the constable’s office that serves west Brazoria County, from south of Jones Creek and along the left side of Highway 288 up to the Harris County line.
Each candidate was asked identical questions and submitted their responses in writing. Only grammatical errors have been corrected.
Why should someone vote for you?
BRAWNER: Citizens of my precinct should vote for me because I am a man of my word. I am a true leader in the way approach my career, as well as my personal life, with honesty and integrity and have good morals. I have verifiable experiences in law enforcement, and I am known as someone that persons from the community and other law enforcement agencies can depend on.
I have a vast knowledge of law and have experiences to bring to the office. I am the only candidate in this race that has actual leadership and supervisory experience in law enforcement. I have been a proven productive leader. I believe in progressive leadership and know that the constable’s office will be facing growth issues in the not so distant future. I am a firm believer in finding and using technology to better do the job, if officers have a better way to do the job, it makes them more efficient and proficient, which in turn translates to cost effectiveness for the citizens.
I am aware that the constable’s role not only is to motivate and supervise officers, but to be fiscally responsible and conservative with the taxpayers’ money. I am involved with the community and have spoken to the precinct’s police chiefs and expressed my desire to start a police explorer program for youth of the precinct as partners, which has been met with positive feedback.
Further, as the work load allows, I would like to expand on the senior citizen program that Chief Paul Odin has brought to West Columbia Police Department. I want to be a constable for all the citizens of Precinct 4 no matter your political party, race, nationality or section. Each citizen of the precinct will feel that they can call the office and express their concerns, in addition to being able to come in for a visit. I have a proven career and I have served with integrity, honesty, compassion and fairness.
I have been innovative in my unit’s application of law. When elected, I will continue to be all of these things and I will do what is right for the people of my precinct and county. I am the only candidate that has ties to Brazoria County and has a working knowledge of the diversity of the precinct because I have spent the last 17 years as a sheriff’s deputy in this county.
WILLIS: The current citizens of Brazoria County Precinct 4 should vote for me because I will take a sensible and wise approach to serve the citizens of Brazoria County. I want to develop Precinct 4 into a progressive, forward thinking agency with well-trained, educated deputies that will uphold the high law enforcement standards our community expects and provide exceptional leadership that promotes the safety and community cohesiveness the citizens of Brazoria County deserve.
What is the biggest challenge facing the office you seek?
BRAWNER: I believe the biggest challenge facing the office I seek is the diversity that comes with growth. As the precinct is divided, we currently are seeing an influx of new construction, both residential and industrial. With new construction comes a variety of issues that the Precinct 4 Constable will face. Court dockets in the Justice of the Peace courts will become inundated with criminal cases that the municipal, county and state law enforcement will file, as well as civil suits that will be filed either by tenants, landlords or property owners.
Due to the increase in population I anticipate a strain being put on the office and its limited number of staff and sworn officers. To keep this portion of the answer short I will say the increase in the court docket will force JP’s to hear court dockets more often, thus removing the Constable Deputies from the streets to provide bailiff duties in the two JP courts in the precinct. Removing Deputies from the street will in turn cause warrants, and civil processes to be delayed in service.
Along with the aforementioned items, it is very important for the officers of this department be accessible and approachable for the citizens of the community and continue to build relationships of trust with all citizens so they know they have a voice and can know that they will be protected from the evils that like to prey on members of the community.
WILLIS: In today’s society perception is reality to most. Changing the perception our community has of law enforcement is the biggest challenge I will face as constable.
The perception today, with the increase in violence, police shootings, and lack of cohesiveness with law enforcement and the community, is that law enforcement is extremely disconnected with the community.
While I have been on the campaign trail, I have encountered thousands of people of whom the majority have shared the common thread of a diminished sense of trust in law enforcement. My challenge will be to rebuild that sense of trust that has vanished and reshape our community’s perception of law enforcement. The great news is that I am prepared for the challenge.
You are replacing Fred Kanter. How would you run the department differently than he has?
BRAWNER: Constable Kanter has grown this office from a constable and one deputy to a constable with five deputies. I foresee more growth of personnel in the next few years due to the tremendous growth and construction taking place in Brazoria County, especially in Precinct 4.
It’s common when a new leader takes office that a different style of leadership and ideas are implemented. I would like to see more presence in the subdivisions and rural areas of the county providing more patrols in these areas, police presence is a huge deterrence in crime.
I would like to eventually work toward implementing a marine division to supplement what the Sheriff’s Office currently provides, precinct 4 has a considerable amount of waterways such as the San Bernard river that is a heavily traveled recreational area, providing law enforcement support on the waterways will enhance safety and also deter the crime that is associated with river traffic.
Criminal law enforcement on the county level is primarily referred to the sheriff’s office and is so funded through the commissioners court, however, I would like to see the deputies be proactive in their daily routines and supplement the actions of the sheriff’s office and act as a force multiplier in criminal interdiction as their time allows.
As mentioned before, I want to expand community relations to all areas of the precinct and forge a bond with the community and its youth by implementing programs such as a Police Explorer program that mentors young people and provides positive role models for those who may be interested in learning more about law enforcement or a future career in law enforcement.
I also believe that a strong reserve police division is a necessity in accomplishing a mission in today’s law enforcement. I want to grow the reserve division that currently is in place to a group of volunteers that will be available to supplement full-time officers when special events arise, such as community festivals, parades and natural disasters, such as the recent floods or hurricane evacuations, and clean up that take place throughout the precinct and county. By utilizing a strong and productive reserve division it can help to reduce overtime costs which can directly affect a departmental budget.
WILLIS: Under my leadership, I want to start a patrol division that works hand-in-hand with the other local and federal agencies to increase police presence and decrease crime. This is something that we don’t currently have, but desperately need.
I know the potential of the constable office and what it should be. I know that the constable office can serve larger purposes in our community than just serving civil documents. We should not only provide security for the courts, but we should assist in patrolling our streets, assisting motorists in need and be a visible deterrent to criminal activity. I will focus on developing community policing in Brazoria County.
After developing a partnership with the citizens of Brazoria County Precinct 4, I will work hard to maintain positive relationships with civic leaders, faith-based groups, schools and regular everyday citizens whose support is vital in the success of community policing.