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Monday nights, focusing on the candidates

The Dallas Examiner | 9/1/2014, 6:55 p.m.
The first Monday Night Politics – Meet the Candidates forum for the general election, which is Nov. 4, was held ...
The Dallas Examiner Logo Photo by Robyn H. Jimenez

The Dallas Examiner

The first Monday Night Politics – Meet the Candidates forum for the general election, which is Nov. 4, was held on Monday. The focus of the forum this week was on the Dallas County District Attorney race. Both candidates, DA Craig Watkins and Susan Hawk were invited and offered an opportunity to talk to several of their constituents.

The district attorney represents the people of Dallas County and is responsible for investigating misdemeanor and felony crimes and prosecuting persons charged with crimes. The division under the DA’s office include: federal, misdemeanor, civil, specialized crimes, organized crimes, gang unit, juvenile, family violence, child abuse, mental health, animal cruelty, public integrity, conviction integrity, appellate, grand jury/intake and administration.

Unfortunately, Watkins was not able to attend the forum due to a previous commitment to speak to federal judges in Seattle, Washington. However Hawk, who is running against Watkins, did participate in the forum.

Matt Houston, chairman of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, moderated the forum. He did an excellent job and will hopefully be moderating more forums in the future.

The publisher of The Dallas Examiner, Mollie Belt, in her opening remarks explained the process used to invite candidates to Monday Night Politics and the practice of continuing with the forum when one candidate is not able to be present. She explained that it is not a debate, but a forum to allow people to get to know the candidates, their experiences, platform and why they feel they will be the best person for the job.

The audience is allowed to ask questions directly to candidates, there is no filter of questions. The attendees are sincere in getting to know the candidates, as they listen and ask intelligent and relevant questions.

The forum on Monday provided many with the opportunity to get to know Hawk who has served Dallas County for almost two decades as a prosecutor and a district judge. She answered questions and shared her passion for justice for everyone. Her mentor, retired District Judge John Cruezot, was in attendance and she stated she copied her mental health program after his divert court program.

The next Monday Night Politics is Sept. 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the African American Museum. Since Watkins was not able to participate in the forum this week, he has agreed to participate in the next forum. He said he wants to talk to his constituents.

The forum will also focus on the Dallas County judge race. Both candidates, Judge Clay Jenkins and Ron Natinsky have been invited and Natinsky has confirmed.

The Dallas County judge presides over the Commissioners Court, which has authority over the county’s budget and administrative operations. The county judge also oversees the truancy court system that hears cases regarding students’ failure to attend classes regularly, as well as where parents fit in the non-attendance policies for Dallas, Highland Park, Richardson, Garland and Mesquite Independent School Districts. The five magistrates who hear the cases report back to the county judge. Additionally, the county judge is responsible for the county’s disaster and emergency preparedness, and appoints the director for the local Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

As usual, The Dallas Examiner encourages everyone to become informed voters and turn out to vote on Nov. 4. Since we know our history, we know the sacrifices that have been made so that Blacks can vote. Furthermore, we know what each African American voting means to the legacy of our ancestors, but more so, to the future of our children.

Additionally, utilize The Dallas Examiner’s Voter Roll Call to see if your friends, neighbors, co-workers and community leaders have a record of voting. If you don’t see their name, encourage them to get registered, be informed and vote.

Be a part of the conversation. Send your letters to mbelt@dallasexaminer.com.