Steve Fryar, write-in candidate for Brown County Judge, acknowledged Republican Party nominee Paul Lilly’s law enforcement career in what Fryar billed as a debate Tuesday – which Lilly did not attend – but said his business experience makes him the better choice for county judge.
Fryar booked the Adams Street Community Center for three debates, but Lilly said repeatedly he will not debate Fryar. The time for debate was in the primary election, when Fryar chose not to run, Lilly has said.
Radio personality J.R. Williams acted as moderator in an informal event attended by less than a dozen people and read Fryar written questions.
Fielding the first question, Fryar said he’d prefer that wind farms “never show up in Brown County.”
Fryar is the president of PF&E Oil Co. and Freedom Distributors, the owner of Southside Joint Venture, a real estate holding company and a partner in Fryar Energy. “I’ll give you full disclosure: I sell a lot of lubricants to wind farms. I don’t want to sell any, not one drop p, of lubricants to a wind farm in Brown County. I don’t want them here.”
Answering the next question, Fryar gave his reason for running as a write-in candidate rather than in the primary election. Fryar said he did not expect longtime incumbent County Judge Ray West to lose to Lilly. “I never thought he would lose,” Fryar said. “Most of the voters didn’t either. They didn’t show up. … It was a dismal turnout.
Fryar said several people asked him after the primary to run as a write-in, and he initially declined. Fryar said as additional people asked him, he changed his mind. “I have a lot more business experience – 38 years worth,” Fryar said. “I know that the county judge actually is the one that overseas the commissioners court, and the commissioners court does the business of the county. If we have a businessman in there doing the business of the county, then the county will run more efficiently if we don’t.
“Key differences? Thirty-eight years of business experience versus 25, 27 years – I can’t remember the exact number – of law enforcement experience. Just because someone’s a law enforcement officer does not give them the credentials or the credibility or the knowledge that they need to run a business. … With 38 years of business experience, I’d say that’s a huge difference between us.”
On the topic of implementing a felony veterans court, Fryar said as county judge he would support implementing a veterans court. Fryar said he would first determine if a veterans court is actually needed, based on the numbers of veterans who are arrested each year. If a veterans court is needed, Fryar said, he would approach officials in Brown and surrounding counties about the forming a regional veterans court and sharing the cost.
“If we need a veterans treatment court, we’ll get one,” Fryar said.
Fryar referenced his service as a member of the then-Texas Youth Commission board. Fryar resigned along with the entire TYC board in TYC in the midst of a scandal of allegations of sexual abuse of inmates by staff, and a possible coverup. Fryar said board members received a call one morning that Gov. Rick Perry was asking for their resignations by the end of the day.
“We weren’t fired,” Fryar said. “I proudly served on the Texas Youth Commission. Loved it. From 2001 to 2007. It was a bad ending for the board, because we got thrown under the bus by the Legislature.
“ … I was kind of miffed, because we had a great board. But then it dawned on me it’s not about me, it’s about what’s best for Texas and what’s best for the youth of Texas that are incarcerated.”
Williams asked Fryar what he wants in the county judge’s office. A woman in the audience called out that she wants “fairness, transparency, openness. It seems like a lot goes on that we don’t know about or we hear about it later.”
The woman said the county judge’s election “is going to be won or lost based on (the candidates’) qualifications. The election is about what kind of judge you will make.”