A former Justice of the Peace is looking to make an impact in county government as a challenger to the Democratic nomination for Precinct 2 Nueces County Commissioner.

Former JP for Precinct 1, Place 1 Joe A. "JAG" Gonzalez, who stepped down last year to run for the Precinct 2 seat after incumbent Betty Jean Longoria opted not to seek reelection, is hoping to represent the Democratic Party in November against Republican Gil Hernandez.

Gonzalez, who has served in the military in both the Marine Corps Reserve and Air Force Reserve, said he has spent many years serving on various committees and boards around the area, as well as spending time volunteering for youth organizations. He and his wife have three children and four grandchildren.

Gonzalez is also a member of the American G.I. Forum, Dr. Hector P. Garcia Chapter, and the League of United Latin American Citizens. He holds an associate's degree in criminology from Del Mar College and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, along with a master's degree in counseling and education from TAMUCC.

It was a desire to change the way county government works that, Gonzalez said, prompted him to run for the Precinct 2 seat.

"I think it's time for a change, for fresh ideas, on how to bring in new revenues and work with the people," he said. "We need to do more that's going to benefit the people and this community instead of special interest groups."

Gonzalez said if he is eventually elected, he would differ from some of his fellow commissioners in one way.

"I'm the only one who has said I will not accept any pay increase as a commissioner," he said. "I think all that money should go down to the bottom and take care of their rank and file (workers) and the district attorney's office, which is underpaid. Raises should be from the bottom up, not the top down."

Other areas of concern for Gonzalez, he said, are drainage problems in the rural areas of Precinct 2, as well as the lack of public transportation available to those residents. Gonzalez said he is working with the Regional Transportation Authority to provide some form of transportation to those areas.

"One of the things I want to do is reach out to the rural areas and provide them with the things they need," he said. "I'm not waiting to be a commissioner to do something. That's going to happen, win or lose."