The clock is winding down on the days left until Super Tuesday.
And with highly contested presidential candidates fighting for the big delegate prize, local candidates are hoping the expected high-turnout spills into their races.
One of those contests is the Montague County Sheriff’s race.
Incumbent Paul Cunningham is hoping to be re-elected to the position he has held for seven years.
His challenger in the Republican Primary, Marshall Thomas, has nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience.
The two candidates have respect for each other and for the experience they both add to the position.
Paul Cunningham has seen a lot of change in Montague County since he took office, seven years ago.
“My first year in office, we inherited a mess here in Montague County,” said Montague County Sheriff, Paul Cunningham. “We had to basically assault our own jail and take it back over from the inmates.”
In the following years, Cunningham says he has improved the jail system and passed inspection with ‘flying colors’.
Cunningham’s opponent, Marshall Thomas, a retired Texas Ranger, even passes praise on to Cunningham.
“Seven years ago, it was a different story,” said (R) Montague County Sheriff candidate, Marshall Thomas. “Right now there’s only about 13 jails in the state that cannot pass those inspections and I don’t see a problem with Montague County.”
Both candidates also agree that the production and the use of methamphetamine has been a huge problem in the county.
Cunningham believes the problem has improved during his two terms.
But Thomas, who is a former DPS Narcotics Sergeant, says more can be done to prevent the illegal drug activity.
“As far as actively searching for drugs, I don’t think it’s as good as it could be–there could be a whole lot more done. We’ve had a lot of citizens say they called in drug activity and those calls just aren’t being answered,” Thomas said. “I believe I could pass on my experience to the deputies down the road to know what to look for.”
“Most of the drugs now in the county are brought into the county,” Cunningham said. “It makes it a little harder to find than when they were cooking it in the open like they were when we took office. I hope to be able to curtail that.”
Both candidates agree that strides have been made in the county since 2008 but when it comes to what they think the role of the sheriff is, they disagree.
“I feel the citizens of Montague County deserve a Sheriff that takes care of business and runs the office like a business,” Cunningham said. “You don’t need a Sheriff that’s out there working the street.”
“I want to be a leader not a supervisor, I want to be out there with the guys when possible,” Thomas adds. “There are times that I’ll have to be in the office–taking care of jail, budgets, all that–but I believe I need to be out there as a leader working cases with the guys.”
Since there is no Democrat running in this race so whoever wins on Super Tuesday will become sheriff.