Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content

Primary election field firms up

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

Two of Denton County’s top Republicans — County Judge Mary Horn and District Attorney Paul Johnson — are facing primary challengers from within their own party in the Republican primary next spring.

Horn, who has run for re-election unopposed since 2006, is facing two GOP challengers, Corinth Mayor Paul Ruggiere and Highland Village attorney Sherman Swartz. Johnson is facing Lantana attorney Karen Alexander and Denton attorney Hank Paine, both of whom announced their candidacies months ago.

And in another surprise move, County Clerk Cynthia Mitchell pitched her hat into the ring for Precinct 5 justice of the peace to replace the retiring Mike Bateman. Five other candidates also filed for the post: Sanger businessman Paul Moore; district attorney investigator Mike Oglesby; Denton police Detective Mike Sweet; food and beverage vendor Mike Brucia; and Danny Skindle, whose occupation was not available at press time.

Republican state Rep. Myra Crownover is also facing a primary challenger from Denton insurance agent Read King in the District 64 race, with the winner facing Democrat Emy Lyons in the November election.

The candidates were among dozens who braved icy roads to meet the Monday filing deadline for the March 4 primary election. State law does not allow for late filings because of bad weather.

“Candidates are going to have a very spirited and very full primary in Denton County,” said Dianne Edmondson, head of the Denton County Republican Party. “We have in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 candidates, with lots of races contested and lots of people filing for precinct chairs, they are keeping us busy.”

Denton County Democrats have a much trimmer list of candidates, but no less enthusiasm for the 2014 elections.

“I am pleased with the quality of these men and women who are true public servants,” said Phyllis Wolper, head of the Denton County Democratic Party.


Primary challengers

Horn’s opponents turned in their paperwork Monday on the final day of filing.

“They played it pretty close to the chest,” Horn said. “That’s fine. I look forward to another great campaign.”

Ruggiere said he was dissatisfied with the current leadership in Denton County and decided to run for office, a decision he has been mulling for the past year.

“Whenever someone has been in office for a long period of time, they may feel entitled to that office,” Ruggiere said. “But I think I have as good a chance as anybody to bring change to the way this county is managed.”

Swartz, a longtime Denton County resident and attorney, said Denton County is no longer the sleepy rural community it once was with a population that has grown more than 50 percent since Horn first took office in 2002.

“County government is a large-dollar company and I think we need new conservative leaders in elected office who have the experience to manage it, and who can talk the talk in other corporate environments to help it grow,” Swartz said.

The final day of filing arrived during the fallout from a weekend winter storm. While candidates had to make some adjustments in their filing process, they still had to complete their paperwork and turn it in by 6 p.m. Monday.


Hot JP races

Edmondson was surprised by how many candidates seem to be interested in becoming a justice of the peace.

In the Precinct 5 race to replace Bateman, six candidates filed for the position.

Mitchell, who has served four terms as county clerk, said she filed because “it is time to take the next step and once again take a run for my first love, justice of the peace.”

Oglesby said that when he was 16 years old, a justice of peace process treated him fairly, when it could have gone either direction.

“If I can return the favor, I’d like to,” he said. “I just want to continue serving the community in that capacity.”

Moore, who owns a motorcycle business in Sanger and is a military and law enforcement veteran, said he has had his eye on the seat for a while. He said his business experience and military discipline and law enforcement experience make him uniquely suited for the seat.

Sweet, a property crimes detective with the Denton Police Department, said he wants to build on the foundation set by Bateman.

“With what I do for a living, I see there is a need,” Sweet said.

Brucia forwarded a political flier that said he was running to provide residents with a JP “who shares their conservative values and has a proven history of service and commitment to north Denton County.”

Skindle could not be reached for comment.

In Precinct 4, Justice of the Peace J.W. Hand has drawn three opponents — Flower Mound attorney Al Filidoro, Northlake attorney Harris Hughey and Scott Smith, a self-employed businessman from Trophy Club.

In Precinct 6, Carrollton attorney Gary W. Blanscet and Carrollton CPA Tom Washington will face off to fill the vacant seat left by the retirement of incumbent Patty Larson.

The Republicans have 10 contested races in the primary election.

No Democrats have filed for justice of the peace positions.


Democrats look toward November

Six Democrats filed for office in Denton County, but none face challengers in the primary election. They are hoping to unseat Republican incumbents in the November general election.

Their slate includes:

Alex Mendoza of Lewisville, who will square off in the November election against incumbent Republican state Rep. Ron Simmons in District 65.

David Heiman, who is challenging Republican Judge Margaret Barnes for the 367th Court bench. Barnes has no Republican primary opponent.

Patrick McGehearty, who will take on Republican U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant for U.S. Representative District 24. Marchant has no primary opponent.

Daniel Moran, who is vying for the District 63 seat against incumbent state Rep. Tan Parker. Parker is unopposed in his primary.

Emy Lyons, who will take on the winner of the primary battle for state representative for District 64 between incumbent Myra Crownover and challenger Read King.

Lisa Osterholt, who is challenging incumbent state Rep. Pat Fallon in District 106. Fallon has no Republican primary opponent.

Wolper commended the candidates for braving the weather conditions to file for office.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.


Here are the candidates facing contested races in the March 4 primary elections, according to the Denton County Republican and Democratic parties.

County Judge

Republicans: Incumbent Mary Horn, Paul Ruggiere, Sherman Swartz

No Democrats filed.

District Attorney

Republicans: Incumbent Paul Johnson, Hank Paine, Karen Alexander

No Democrats filed.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 4

Republicans: Incumbent J.W. Hand, Al Filidoro, Harris Hughey, Scott Smith

No Democrats filed.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 5

Republicans: Cynthia Mitchell, Danny Spindle, Mike Brucia, Mike Oglesby, Mike Sweet, Paul Moore (incumbent Mike Bateman is retiring)

No Democrats filed.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 6

Republicans: Gary W. Blanscet, Tom Washington (incumbent Patty Larson is retiring)

No Democrats filed.

State Representative District 64

Republicans: Incumbent Myra Crownover, Read King

Democrat: Emy Lyons

Constable Precinct 1

Republicans: Incumbent Jesse Flores, Johnny Hammons

County Clerk

Republicans: D’lynne Shelton, Juli Anne Luke

No Democrats filed.

County Criminal Court Judge No. 3

Republicans: Incumbent David Garcia, George Mitcham

County Criminal Court Judge No. 5

Republicans: Coby Waddill, Vic Rivera

No Democrats filed.

Uncontested GOP races

The following incumbents are unopposed in their Republican primaries and are not facing Democrats in the November election.

County Commissioner Precinct 2 Ron Marchant

County Commissioner Precinct 4 Andy Eads

County Court At Law Judge No. 1 Kimberly McCary

County Court At Law Judge No. 2 Robert Ramirez

County Criminal Court Judge No. 1 Jim Crouch

County Criminal Court Judge No. 2 Virgil Vahlenkamp Jr.

County Criminal Court Judge No. 3 George Mitcham

County Criminal Court Judge No. 4 Joe Bridges

County Probate Court Judge Bonnie Robison

County Treasurer Cindy Yeatts Brown

District Clerk Sherri Adelstein

158th District Court Judge Steve Burgess

211th District Court Judge Brody Shanklin

367th District Court Judge Margaret E. Barnes

Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Joe Holland

Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 James R. DePiazza

Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Becky Kerbow