Both Calhoun JP candidates have held public office
Feb. 1, 2018 at 8:45 p.m.
Updated Feb. 2, 2018 at 6 a.m.
A former Port Lavaca city councilman is challenging the longtime justice of the peace for Calhoun County's Precinct 1 in the Democratic Party primary.
In the 12 years Hope Kurtz, 50, has served as justice of he peace, she estimated the amount of fines collected has increased from $30,000 to $300,000.
"We don't collect all of that, of course, because some do community services or write a paper or this or that," Kurtz said, "but I think that's because the officers and the general public come to me for being fair and treating everyone equally."
Kurtz also said she's proud of how she's handled truancy cases, which have gone from criminal to civil matters.
"They are done on an individual basis because everyone is unique. There's no Band-Aid or quick fix," she said.
Lee Rivera, meanwhile, is vying to be the next JP with more than a decade of experience as a city councilman under his belt.
During his time in office, he helped pass ordinances banning smoking and extending drinking to 2 a.m. in Port Lavaca.
The latter ordinance was prompted by an Applebee's Restaurant wanting to come to the coastal town.
It never did.
Nevertheless, Rivera, 70, said both issues were about safety.
"Young people were traveling to Victoria (to drink), and there was a danger coming back," he said.
He said he felt inspired by Victoria Municipal Judge Vanessa Heinold, who, the Advocate reported in December, worked with defendants once a month to resolve delinquent payments for traffic tickets.
"I want to try to be a role model for people and try to perhaps lead them in the right direction. I don't want to be one that just judges them and walks away," he said.
Both Kurtz and Rivera are Democrats.
Whoever wins March 6 will face Republican Raymond Perez, who is the municipal judge in Port Lavaca, on Nov. 6.