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Victoria County Sheriff Republican Primary candidate questionnaires

May 16, 2012 at 12:16 a.m.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor

Editor's Note: Early voting is May 14-25 for the May 29 general election. To help our readers learn more about candidates in the contested races, we will publish responses to the League of Women Voters questionnaire. Candidates T. Michael O'Connor and Scott Hornstein respond today.

• Name: T. Michael O'Connor

• Age: 57

• City/County of Residence: Victoria, Victoria County

• Occupation: Victoria County Sheriff since 2005

Background and Qualifications:

Serving as Sheriff since 2005. Nearly 40 years experience in law enforcement with thousands of hours of certified training. Earned a Master Peace Officer Certification. Current President of the South Texas Coastal Sheriffs Alliance. Graduate of Texas A&M University and the Victoria Police Academy. Fifth-generation South Texas rancher and businessman.

Why are you seeking this office?

While we have made great strides together at the Sheriff's Office, there is still much to do. Public service is more important than politics to me, and people deserve a Sheriff's Office that is the best it can be. As Sheriff, I am committed to making a positive difference as we work to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Stewardship is very important to me, and we bear a duty to future generations. This is why I work tirelessly to keep our community safe, and constantly seek new tools to help the Sheriff's Office protect and serve all.

What new crime fighting technology or methods would you like to see this office be able to provide?

While no real substitutes exist for training and good police work, emerging technologies are providing powerful tools to help officers prevent and fight crime. Top-quality forensics work and evidence testing are vital to making solid criminal cases, and I am working with others in law enforcement to establish a fully-outfitted crime lab in Victoria. This would allow evidence to be quickly tested here instead of being sent out-of-town to wait its turn. We are also exploring computer-aided tools at the Sheriff's Office to combat identity theft and cyber-crime, along with high-tech methods of targeting organized criminal activity.

What law enforcement challenges does our county face and how would you address them?

As a husband and father, I am concerned about the kind of community we pass on to our children. Crime is a serious issue in our area, and we must remain vigilant to keep Victoria County safe. With ongoing growth in our region, we constantly face issues with gangs and organized crime. We also grapple with crimes tied to illegal drugs, and growth in our area has increased hazards on our roadways. We will continue addressing these challenges by seeking to expand the number of deputies on patrol, and working with other law enforcement agencies in a team approach.

Are there additional opportunities for the Victoria County Sheriff's Office to partner with the City of Victoria Police or other area Sheriff's Departments?

One of my goals as sheriff is to increase collaboration among local law enforcement agencies to address problems such as gangs and drug trafficking, which reach beyond the borders of any one county. This is one reason why I founded the South Texas Coastal Sheriffs Alliance 8 years ago, which includes 22 counties along the coast and in South Texas. As a former youth sports coach, I know the importance of teamwork first-hand. I constantly seek new ways to partner more effectively with others in law enforcement, whether through collaborative officer training, enhanced intelligence sharing or combined criminal interdiction efforts.

• Name: Scott Hornstein

• Age: 53

• City/County of Residence: Victoria, Victoria County

• Occupation: Purchasing Agent CDM Resource Management, six years

Background and Qualifications:

I am a lifelong resident of Victoria County ,married to wife Martha for 21 years, 3 children, and 5 grandchildren. I received my Peace Officers Certification in 1987 and currently hold a Masters Peace Officer Certificate with over 20 years experience. I worked in all areas at VCSO.

Why are you seeking the office?

It has been a goal of mine that started years ago and, after careful consideration, I decided to pursue the office. I want to give back to the community and, if successful, will strive to maintain an excellent fiscal balance of funds needed to maintain the Sheriff's Office. I will maintain an open-door policy for the community and employees alike. I will improve the morale of the department, which in turn will benefit everyone and this will provide a better overall service to the community.

What new crime fighting technology or methods would you like to see this office be able to provide?

I would like to enhance the special crimes unit in the areas of drug interdiction and the suppression of gangs. I believe if we keep going in the current direction, gangs will rise to an unprecedented level. I would secure special training and keep abreast of any new technology available that would enhance the ability of officers needed to move forward in a positive direction. I would attempt to have officers of this unit trained as hazmat responders to be able to secure and dismantle any meth labs located, which would benefit us as well as surrounding counties.

What law enforcement challenges does our county face and how would you address them?

The challenges are many, with illegal narcotics being on top of the list. I believe we need to embrace the community as our partner on this issue. With cooperation and information obtained, we can provide the necessary resources to combat illegal drugs. Education is the key ingredient starting at levels as early as junior high. We need to continue to work in other areas as well, due to drugs taking a wide array of crimes. Financial responsibility is one major issue that needs to be monitored closely to ensure we have the resources needed for the above issues.

Are there additional opportunities for the Victoria County Sheriff's Office to partner with the City of Victoria Police or other area Sheriff's Departments?

There are always opportunities to partner with local, as well as surrounding, agencies. In creating an information sharing network with other agencies, you can combine resources. When doing this, you initially gain additional manpower in the form of intelligence, which can enhance the ability of the offices to interact and assist each other. The issues we face in our county carries over to surrounding counties. If the trust and respect is established with the above mentioned agencies, it will benefit everyone and help lower crime-related issues.

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