Hays County Sheriff Republican candidates Q & A

Gary Cutler Gary Cutler[/caption]

Gary Cutler (incumbent)

Experience: current Hays County sheriff, obtained a degree in criminal justice from Texas Tech University, more than 30 years law enforcement experience

Top priorities: ensuring the county’s justice system can accommodate the current and anticipated growth, dealing with overcrowding at the current jail

Why are you running?

I really enjoy my job. I’m surrounded by really good people: my command staff, the men and women at the sheriff’s office working here every day. I’ve got some unfinished business. We’ve got a jail, criminal justice center [and a] communications center that’s going to take a while [to address]. That’s something we’ve got to get done, and we’ve got to move forward on that.

Aside from growth, what is the biggest challenge facing Hays County’s justice system?

I think the biggest challenge is the jail and our law enforcement center and our communications center because of the age of these buildings. That’s going to be something that the taxpayers of Hays County are going to get the option to vote on in a bond. We’re talking about millions of dollars. To get that built and done [is a challenge].

What are your thoughts on a new Hays County jail?

One thing the Commissioners Court and I have agreed on—and I work very well with the court—is to keep the jail [in its current location]. You don’t want it in your neighborhood. It’s been in this location for 30-something years. What I would like to do is build one in phases. Phase 1 with ‘X’ number of beds with room for an expansion to Phase 2 if we need it later on.

Tommy Ratliff Tommy Ratliff[/caption]

Tommy Ratliff

Experience: 35 years of law enforcement experience, 21 years as a Texas ranger, former Hays County sheriff

Top priorities: improving morale within the sheriff’s office

Why are you running?

Having been a prior Texas ranger and arresting police officers in my career and elected officials and doing investigations on police departments, when you have a sheriff that doesn’t pursue cases because there are employees involved or their families and not doing something about it, that’s an honesty and integrity issue. I felt like that needed to come out.

Aside from growth, what is the biggest challenge facing Hays County’s justice system?

The area of responsibility for the current sheriff is smaller than it ever was for a sheriff. For example, San Marcos has taken in a lot more land. Kyle has taken in a lot more area. Buda, whenever I was the sheriff, we had full responsibility for law enforcement in Buda. So you have to look at the area of responsibility has diminished. [Growth is] going to cut down on the area of responsibility so we have to look at that and see.

What are your thoughts on a new Hays County jail?

The current sheriff is housing inmates in outside counties. The problem with that is we have empty beds in our own jail. The information I’m getting and being told is we have up to 100 empty beds in the jail that a lot of these people could be utilizing and saving us some money. Until I get in there and see what the problem is, I don’t understand why we’re doing that. I’d like to see why they need $160 million [for a new jail and law enforcement center] because I think that’s entirely too high and way too much money.