Precinct 3 Commissioner Gary Fickes pushed past two challengers in his May primary, winning the Republican nomination with about 59 percent of the vote. Looking ahead to November, though, Fickes will face a longtime friend and supporter, Democratic challenger Norm Lyons.

"Norm's a good guy and he's somebody I have always had a lot of respect for; he's a gentleman," said Fickes, a 62-year-old Southlake resident.

The feelings are mutual. Lyons has for years been listed among Fickes' supporters and he had nothing but good things to say about the incumbent. Still, the two will face off this fall to represent Precinct 3 for the next four years.

"I'm not running against Gary Fickes, I'm running for the county commissioner seat," Lyons said. "It's no different than the World Series; you want the two best teams playing because if the two best are going at it, the fans win — the population wins."

Lyons, a 68-year-old Southlake resident best known for his 17-year career with the Texas Rangers organization, said he had wanted to run for this spot since now-Judge Glen Whitley left the Precinct 3 seat open in 2006.

"I live in a great county, I have the time and the want to serve and that's what I'm going to do," Lyons said.

The two candidates — both of whom moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 1979 — offer a similar list of priorities, including tackling the precinct's ongoing transportation and congestion problems, improving care for the area's uninsured, expanding health care and transportation programs aimed at senior citizens, and finding solutions for the county's rising court and jail costs.

With similar goals in mind, the men are turning to experience and personality to win over voters. Fickes, who served as mayor of Southlake for two terms before winning the commissioner seat in 2006, has focused on his conservative record. Lyons has emphasized his experience with relationship building and problem solving as the Rangers' community development director.

With widespread popularity for both and such similar platforms, Fickes says the major difference will be whether Precinct 3 is represented by a Republican or a Democrat.

"I'm conservative, I'm family oriented, I want to keep Northeast Tarrant County a premier place to live, work and raise your kids, and I want to improve your quality of life," Fickes said. "And I'm not just promising I'm going to do it, I'm telling you I've been doing it for six years, and I want to continue to do it."

Lyons has a tough battle ahead of him. The Tarrant County Commissioners Court has only one Democrat at present, Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks, and Precinct 3 residents have voted Republican into office since the early 1980s. But Lyons says the challenge has not deterred him from putting his all into the race.

"I'm a guy that has passion, compassion and commitment, one who is able to plan, lead, organize and control, and is serious about doing the people's work," he said. "Come 7:30, 8 o'clock Tuesday, Nov. 6, I'll say, 'Gary, it was a fun ride, what are you doing tomorrow?' And if I win, I expect him to say the same thing."