Liberty County officials have talked about weighing in the role the county’s constables should play in enforcing the law locally. According to sources, there is even a possibility in the future of redistricting the six constable districts and reducing the number to four in order to save tax dollars. But what did voters say in the May 29th primary about constables?
The constable for the Liberty area, Tim Allison, won re-election easily. Those who watch politics observed with interest as voters were asked two questions. Liberty Dispatch did not post most of them, but every day at least one comment (sometimes six or seven) came in questioning Allison’s staunch allegiance to the Democratic Party as he ran in the Republican primary. But those over zealous to point this out would find out Election Day that the Liberty area had a historic percentage of Democrats and independents voting in the Republican primary. The other question about Allison was more directly related to how he does his job. That question was about Allison having another full time job, but was answered much the same way as he won his race easily against highly respected A.W. Boudain.
What appears to be the message from voters in the Liberty area about constables seems to be consistent with what voters decided in the Dayton area? The controversy surrounding incumbent Constable Chad Pafford was not about whether or not he was on the job or whether he was dedicated to his job. Instead most comments about Constable Pafford were about him spending too much time and too much of the county’s resources doing a job that was not the responsibility of the constable. Pafford was in a three man race and placed third behind Leroy Hanel and Robbie Thornton. Voters in both the Dayton and Liberty area seem to prefer a constable that is not seen or heard from too much.
The results from those two constable races are also consistent with the race for constable in Hardin. In the constable race in Hardin sources have indicated that Denise Frankum, the wife of Constable Danny Frankum, was everywhere campaigning for her husband’s re-election – even door-to-door in some areas. Most likely Frankum was concerned that voters would hear from supporters of his two challengers that he, like Tim Allison, had a full time job. Frankum may have also been concerned that both of his opponents have more training and are qualified and experienced in full time law enforcement work, while he is not. But Frankum finished first and is in a run off with Tommy Koen, Darrell Elliott finishing third. With some reports saying that Frankum is on duty as few as twelve hours a week in his role as constable, it again indicates voters may would rather not hear or see much from their constable.
Ultimately, county officials may have less opposition than some might expect if they decide to reduce the funding and consolidate the constables’ office to save tax payer money and balance the budget. No secretaries, no deputy constables, just one patrol car, and other cost saving measures besides the elimination of two constables would appear to be right in line with the message voters are sending by returning less active constables to office. Constables focused more on delivering warrants and other legal papers and being a watchman for the community with general patrol duty than traffic stops, etc.
Regardless of what happens with the constable offices, whether they are consolidated or not, Liberty County needs to make sure our constables are well trained for what can be a very dangerous job. When elections are a popularity contest sometimes voters place someone in the justice system that is ill prepared for what someday maybe on their plate.