A retired Justice of the Peace is looking to replace outgoing Precinct 2 Nueces County Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria, while hoping to bring new ideas to the Commissioners Court.
Joe A. "JAG" Gonzalez retired from his longtime position as Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, Place 1 last year in order to seek the office of Precinct 2 Commissioner. He and his wife of 43 years, Linda, are residents of Corpus Christi and have three children together, along with four grandchildren.
Gonzalez said he opted to run for the position in order to bring a bigger focus on the needs of rural residents in Nueces County.
"Sometimes we spend so much time on the big things that we forget to work on the small things for the people," he said. "A lot of people in the rural areas are just as important as people in the larger cities. They may be simple, but they're important."
One of the main issues Gonzalez said he would like to see addressed concerns drainage in the rural subdivisions in the unincorporated areas of the county. Gonzalez said he does not support the formation of a countywide drainage district, but would rather see the county make a more concerted effort to seek federal and state grants to pay for some of the work.
"It (addressing drainage) needs to move a little faster and it should become our priority next year," he said.
Gonzalez said if elected into office, he would try to work with the other commissioners to cut unnecessary spending and make an effort to increase revenue for the county. One proposal he mentioned involved working with the local Justices of the Peace to implement a $1 administrative fee for each case that passes through the courts.
"That will bring in a lot of money," he said. "It's going to help us to not raise taxes."
Gonzalez said his experience as a Justice of the Peace and working with budgets is his strongest asset to the county. However, he took issue with his opponent, Republican Gil Hernandez citing a report by the office of Nueces County Auditor Peggy Hayes that found some instances of missing funds and improper money handling during Gonzalez's last two years as Justice of the Peace.
"It's because they're running scared or behind, so they're bringing up trash," he said.
Gonzalez said he is confident voters will side with him in November because he has worked all of his life towards his goals and understands the struggles some families may face on a daily basis.
"I have started my way from the bottom and worked my way to the top," he said. "You've got to start somewhere…and that's what I've done."