Adolfo Contreras was born in Bishop, and spent his youth working in the cotton fields with migrant workers.

His first few years in elementary school in Bishop were still under segregation, with Hispanic students attending school on the west side of town, while whites attended on the east side.

He graduated from Bishop High School in 1969 and enrolled in Texas A&I University. He dropped out of college after one year when he and his wife, Anna Maria, were married. They have four children.

Contreras worked in the mobile home business for several years, but in 1987 he moved to the insurance field, where he has worked ever since.

He is completing his first term as justice of the peace, and said he was first attracted to the position as a way to bring fairness to the court.

"I like to be a fair person, so I thought I could do a good job in conducting myself and being fair with the people who walked through these doors," Contreras said.

And although that ideal was important to him, Contreras said the main duty of the office is to process tickets filed by the Department of Public Safety, the Nueces County Sheriff's Department, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Contreras said he quickly learned that the rules associated with the office prevent any type of community activism.

"This is not an office to try to help people. That's the number one thing that gets JPs in trouble - is trying to help people- because they get out of procedure," Contreras said. "We're not here to try to change anything, we're here to follow procedures and do whatever the law says."

Working within those procedures, Contreras said he has made an effort to reach out to the school districts to handle truancy cases, something he said his predecessors were not interested in doing.

He has also made attempts to work with law enforcement to curb what he sees as unreasonable fees charged by some wrecker services, although he admits he has little authority to address the issue on his own.

Understanding the limits of the office is no small matter, Contreras said, considering that his opponent, David Ramirez, has spoken openly about a desire to provide mentoring programs and leadership to students in the district.

"I've heard that he's saying he's coming in to help the kids. That's where you get into this 'help' thing," Contreras said. "You're not really here to focus on helping children, because of all these other things you have to do. You can work with the schools in truancy, but that's another matter.

"If you want to work part time in helping kids, well, you don't have to be J.P. to do that."