Grayson County Sheriff Candidates address controversy, public's questions

SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) -- Grayson County Sheriff Candidates geared up for one of their last public forums before the March 1st Primary. Candidates responded to a recent controversy and how they'd manage the sheriff's office budget.

The Lake Texoma Rotary Club hosted a forum for candidates running for Grayson County office, including the candidates for Sheriff.

It is one of the first debates since current Grayson County Sheriff Keith Gary addressed the resignation of former Lieutenant and current sheriff's candidate David Russell, saying Russell had been the aggressor in a physical altercation with another deputy and asking Russell remove Gary's image from his campaign material on social media.

We asked Russell for his response about Sheriff Gary's comments, he said he respectfully declined. The two other candidates did address the issue.

"I think people in Grayson County really appreciate the way that he stepped up and cleared the air and had some open and honest comments about what had happened," said Grayson County Sheriff candidate Tom Watt.

"Sheriff Gary has served our community for almost 20 years now," said Grayson County Sheriff candidate Howard Day. "His support, his endorsement is, of course, important to all of us. But now it's time to focus on the campaign, focus on issues and get past some of the drama that we've had up to this point."

One question from the public: what qualifies each candidate to be the next Sheriff and how they would handle the Sheriff Office's budget.

"How about 30 years of leading men and women in both peace and war time around the world," Day responded. "Not just here local, not just at one base but international worldwide experience administrative, managerial and, of course, leadership."

"There is nobody up here that can compare with the investigations I have conducted, and the arrests I have made through them," Russell said. "I'm not a CPA, I'll be the first to tell you. Sheriff Gary is not a CPA. I can hire a chief deputy that is."

"So my nine years as a captain is where I truly got my strong experience as a budget operator and then my skills were honed as chief of police for eight and a half years with a $7.5 million budget," said Watt.

Early voting started earlier on Tuesday. The Primary is March 1st.