Jesse Mark Flores, the Democratic challenger in the race for Nueces County Sheriff, believes his proactive approach to law enforcement makes him the ideal candidate for the office.

Flores is a Corpus Christi native and a graduate of Carrol High School. He is single and has no children, something he counts as an asset.

"It's a good thing, I think, because I can focus on the priorities of the department," Flores said.

In 2000, he joined the U.S. Air Force, and served for five years in an administrative capacity running airport operations.

"It was one of the greatest experiences that any young man or woman could have," Flores said of his time in the military. "It required a lot of attention to detail, a lot of training and a lot of coordination."

As an administrator, Flores said he was responsible for security, transportation of classified materials, transportation of weapons, training and cargo preparation.

"The greatest thing about the Air Force mission is that everybody works together in a spirit of cooperation," Flores said. "That's what I bring to the table."

He received his honorable discharge from the military in 2004, and was hired by the Nueces County Sheriff's Department as a correctional officer.

Flores served as a supervisor in the jail until April of this year, when he was demoted following an internal investigation into alleged policy violations.

Flores said he chose to run for sheriff because he believes the department should be more proactive in its approach to law enforcement.

"I want to be more proactive. You see things that people have promised, and it never changes," Flores said. "It's time for somebody to go out there and focus on a direction."

Flores said an area of particular concern is a lack of visibility in the outlying areas of the county, such as Agua Dulce and Bishop.

"I don't think there's any excuse why a county this size does not have a larger force to go out there and target this huge area we have," Flores said. "It's mainly because we don't have the resources to do so, but you don't need resources to go out there and be visible."

Flores said as sheriff he would establish a community advisory board, made up of members of the public who live in all areas of the county, to increase the level of communication.

"Information is key, and the only way to get information is from the people who actually live in those areas," Flores said. "I think for a long time the community hasn't had a voice in law enforcement, and a lot of things are just kept under the table and none of the issues are targeted because nobody wants to speak up. It's time for the community to have a voice."

Gang and narcotic activity in those areas is rising, Flores said, and he would work to initiate programs to help direct young people away from those paths.

"We should offer programs that would distract the youngsters from the typical thing that kids do in this area, which is going out and drinking with their buddies, partying with their peer groups," Flores said. "We need to offer them some type of youth incentive programs to distract them from that way of life."

Flores also said he would work to increase cooperation with the Corpus Christi Police Department.

"I don't see us really working together, and that's something that needs to be addressed," Flores said. "We need to start communicating a lot better, find ways to information share, to share intelligence."

When asked why voters should choose him over his opponent, Flores said his experience at the jail, combined with his desire to bring change to the department should lead voters to choose him.

"I know the problems that are there, and I think the experience I have in the jail gives me the upper hand on my opponent," Flores said. "I'm just a young man who wants to make a difference."