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Candidate questionnaire for Victoria County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4 GOP primary

By Victoria Advocate
Feb. 18, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 17, 2014 at 8:18 p.m.

Jennifer Zeplin

Editor's note: To help voters learn more about the candidates, the Advocate is printing profiles provided by the League of Women Voters in contested races in the March 4 Democratic and Republican parties' primaries. Tuesday's profile spotlights candidates for the Republican Party nomination for Victoria County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4. The winner will be unopposed in the Nov. 4 general election.

Jennifer Zeplin

Background and qualifications:

Lifelong resident of Victoria County and graduate of Victoria High School and the University of Houston-Victoria. I am the proud mother of two amazing children, Kendyl, 13, and Brenner, 7. I am currently a juvenile probation officer for Victoria County.

Why you are seeking this office?

Working for Victoria County as a Juvenile Probation Officer and dealing with delinquent conduct offenders, sex offenders, offenders with mental health issues and substance abuse issues, I make recommendations to the Court for those services that best suit the offender's needs. I work closely with the County Court-at-Law judges, the district attorney's office, county clerk's office, local law enforcement, mental health service providers and substance abuse professionals. Working in the juvenile justice field and working closely with local authorities and professionals has given me a solid foundation to make fair, but firm decisions to serve as Justice of the Peace.

What are your goals for this office?

A goal I hope to accomplish while in office would be to implement a uniformed truancy court with all precinct justices of the peace to prevent rising truancy issues in the community. There have been successful truancy courts located throughout the state that have been proven effective. I would hope to put in place an effective truancy court program that will address the rising issues that our community has seen. I hope to work closely with the other JP's and VISD to tackle this issue. As cost is an issue, I would pursue grants in helping stave off the expenses of implementing a truancy program.

What improvements would you make in the administration of this office?

As for improvements in the administration of the office, that would have to be answered once I took office. ... I'm aware that there are two full-time clerks and one part-time clerk; however, as to any actual changes that would have to be determined later. I would like the office to be run as efficiently as possible and would like to see the office be ran as up-to-date as possible by going paperless and using the latest technology that is available.

What ways could the 4 JPs work together to improve operations and/or save money?

In regards to improving operations, again I believe that going paperless and taking advantage of the latest technology would be a great benefit to all offices. As for saving money, specifically in regards to truancy ... I think that the JP's office could work closely with VISD to fund a program and apply for grants to defray the cost of running an effective truancy court program.

What challenges does the office of JP face and what ideas do you have on how to resolve them?

Challenges that are of concern is always the budget. Again, I would hope to obtain grants to help fund programs to implement a truancy program. Working as a juvenile probation officer, a major concern is truancy in juvenile offenders. Truancy leads to criminal behavior; by educating the community and holding parents and students accountable, I hope to see the truancy numbers decrease. I've made it a mission to reform juveniles to be productive members of the community. If elected justice of the peace, I hope to continue the work that I am currently passionate about.

John Miller

Did not respond

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