Charles Wagner is retiring after four terms as Brazoria County sheriff, and three candidates are competing to replace him, each with experience in law enforcement.

Richard Foreman, 56, has served many roles with the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, which he joined as a jailer after working his way up the ranks in the state prison system.

He is married with one son and lives in Lake Jackson.

Foreman’s involvement in the community includes being a past president of the Brazoria County Fair Association and a past rodeo committee member. He also has volunteered for numerous nonprofit groups, such as BACH, Brazoria County Peace Officers Association, past president of the Brazoria County Deputies Association, and coached Little League baseball and youth football. He also has volunteered at the annual Thanksgiving Feast in Sweeny and more, he said.

Foreman’s campaign website is electrichardforeman.com, and his social media page is Elect Richard Foreman for Sheriff.

With 38 years at the sheriff’s office, Randy Rhyne has been extensively involved in supervising administration and personnel. He also served on Angleton City Council for two years and was the city’s mayor for six.

He and his wife, Shelly Runkel Rhyne, have one adult son, Justin.

His campaign Facebook page can be found at Randy Rhyne for Brazoria County Sheriff.

A criminal investigator with the Brazoria County District Attorney’s office, Bo Stallman, 40, is an Angleton resident. He and his wife, Jeanna, have three children, Carolynn, Austin and Dylan.

Stallman is a Marine Corps veteran and a recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Angleton ISD Safety & Security Committee member, member for Angleton Area Emergency Medical Corps board, member of the Brazoria County UnBound United Front Coalition against Trafficking, board member for A Night in the Spotlight and an associate member of the West Pearland Republican Women in addition to many other involvements.

Early voting begins Tuesday and continues through Feb,. 28, and Election Day is March 3.

The winner of the primary will run uncontested in the November general election as no Democrat filed to seek the office.

Each candidate received identical questionnaires. Their responses are presented in alphabetical order.

QUESTION

You would replace a sheriff who has served two decades in the position you seek. What might you do differently to put your personal stamp on the job?

FOREMAN: I have worked, serving Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office for 28 years, under two sheriffs, Joe King and Charles Wagner. I have been a part of the success under both sheriffs as well as learned what does not work or is less successful. I have been a part of the growth of the sheriff’s office and stayed engaged with what is needed. The growth of our community has realized more crime and in some cases the types of crimes being committed.

While these past sheriffs have been successful in their time, it is important to recognize both managed/led the way in their own style. In some cases, I may not have agreed with specific points, but nonetheless delivered on the expectations of the leader, the sheriff. It can refer to their style as their stamp on the job; however, I will refer to my approach, methods of leadership and operational drivers as achieving the required outcomes — it is much more to me than my stamp on the job. For me, staying closely focused on the outcomes is mission, and life critical. The outcome of the “Safest Brazoria County” is the goal and failure is not an option.

As the sheriff, I owe this outcome to our people. To achieve this outcome, there are several points to evolve in our sheriff’s office, all of which are detailed in the position statement and bio I published more than two years ago.

RHYNE: I would perform a comprehensive examination on policies and procedures to ensure everything is up to date with today’s events, court rulings and appellate decisions. Yes, members of my command staff will be involved.

I would look at changing the current uniforms to something more conducive to today’s environment. It has to be more user-friendly and more tear-resistant.

I will place a greater emphasis on the education of our employees. This will include not only course specifics for their assigned jobs, but overall academics. My goal is to have every employee with a minimum of an associate degree in criminal justice. I believe this will help retain our officers as well as give them some incentive to stay with us. Better-trained employees bring about a more satisfying ending for the citizens.

STALLMAN: I appreciate all Sheriff Wagner has done in his law enforcement career and his service to Brazoria County. We are living in a county that is growing at a rapid pace. Throughout my career, I’ve prioritized building partnerships with first-responding agencies across the county. As sheriff, I will continue to have the same approach by expanding and strengthening the relationships with all agencies in our county and region.

Another high priority will be to create a team culture that emphasizes the morale in addition to the personal and professional growth of employees. Additionally, I have placed an emphasis in my career on education and training, and I will cultivate this mindset of growth and advancement within the Sheriff’s Office.

Finally, I want to bring a culture of community connection. Service to community is an important pillar of my character. I will bring this service-oriented mindset to the sheriff’s office and improve our community policing efforts to build a solid, transparent relationship with residents as stakeholders. Together we can build a safer community.

QUESTION

The sheriff oversees more than 350 employees and a $40 million budget each year. Explain your management philosophy and qualifications for that part of this law enforcement job.

FOREMAN: First, I am compelled to clarify points within the question. As of my last count, there were more than 400 employees at the sheriff’s office. Those are real people, with real families and rely on the sheriff’s office for their livelihood and growth in their career and craft. This is a responsibility that must be taken very seriously — from the employee, the supervisor, through the sheriff.

Second, while many folks see a $40 million budget, it should be recognized that close to half of that budget is based on mandated jail requirements. The Jail Commission provides for all the related regulations for the county jail, all of which come with cost. The remainder of the budget is leveraged to support the cost of all the other divisions at the sheriff’s office. Therefore, the sheriff is managing an estimated $21 million to $23 million in budget.

I published an 11-point plan more than two years ago, and over the course of this campaign, I added a 12th point. Everything done in public safety is accompanied by a cost, all of which must fit within the budget approved through Brazoria County Commissioners’ Court. However, there are many impactful methods to growing our public safety without adding cost and failing the approved budget.

For example: There were no approved funds to support the Brazoria County Tactical Officer’s Training Center, of which I founded and caused to be developed and is operational still today. I was able to work with our community, businesses, personnel and the state of Texas to be successful in bringing this expanded and critical need to our law enforcement agencies countywide. This was a savings in terms of millions of dollars.

My published plan covers the following elements:

1. Ongoing Public Education – engage the people.

2. Community Policing – increase law enforcement interaction, accountability and positive relations.

3. Employee Retention Plan – happy, secure and well-compensated employees.

4. Crime Prevention – educate citizens, businesses and community on proven crime-prevention practices.

5. Expand Mental Health – expand mental health deputies, training and facilities.

6. Expand Crime Scene Investigation Team – increase training, technologies and service.

7. Safer Roadways – dedicated traffic teams.

8. Law Enforcement Transparency – engaging Brazoria County Residents – in citizen-led committees.

9. Improved/Enhanced Resources – further establish relationships with federal/state law enforcement agencies to the benefit of Brazoria County.

10. Improved/Enhanced Tactical Response Team.

11. Develop and utilize innovative law enforcement technology.

The added number 12: immediately explore Civil Service, which we believe directly serves the sheriff’s office’s most important asset — the people.

My philosophy, as asked in your question is this:

We know, without a doubt, that the sheriff’s office requires further funding through the commissioners’ court. Designing cost and expense strategies to save tax dollars is equally important, which is why I will assure every project we approach has looked at every savings opportunity possible. This will include state and federal grants and more. Being the best steward of our community’s tax dollars is absolutely critical path — finding the balance between “The Safest Brazoria County” and use of those dollars is the absolute objective regarding cost and budget.

What qualifies me, as related to the largest agency and the budget – as asked in your question:

First and foremost, I care. I care about the sheriff’s office, not only being successful, but it thriving and becoming the No. 1 law enforcement employer of choice in our community and the wider agencies. I have the passion to make sure this happens. Additionally, I care that our sheriff’s office provides the absolute best and most impactful and professional service to our community. I believe it should be recognized, I am not asking the community to hire me to be everyone’s sheriff because I have an ego or want a big title. I am asking the community to hire me because I care. It matters to me that the community we serve gets the support they deserve — and in parallel, the employees of the sheriff are happy, make a great wage for their work and I create a place of employment where employees can “show up at their best, every single day.” Furthermore, I have been leading in some form or fashion for more than three decades. Being in a position to lead the way, in the manner I know and have seen works, will drive success to our community and sheriff’s office. In the absence of this experience, failure will follow. That is a risk our community cannot accept. Regarding the dollars and sense within the budget, that is the easy challenge of this job — designing the expansion and growth of the department and the people executing the craft is the larger challenge — and doing all of that while remaining close to our stewardship of the community’s money is the balance.

RHYNE: Since I have literally done every job in the sheriff’s office over the last 38 years, I believe my management philosophy is to make sure all employees understand the rules. Some rules might need tweaking to stay in line with current events. There might be occasions when an employee deviates from the rules (with reason). Thinking outside the box can be a good thing.

I was mentored by some very good supervisors that allowed me to make my own decisions while staying in the guidelines. They were there to keep me from making mistakes that could cost someone’s life, loss of property or dignity. Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean that it is the right thing to do.

STALLMAN: The skills and training I acquired from my service to our country as a United States Marine, my experience as a trooper with the Department of Public Safety and as a criminal investigator have taught me there is a huge distinction between a boss and a leader. I firmly believe a good leader empowers their employees to accomplish their goals by instilling a hope for success and belief in themselves. This philosophy along with an open line of communication between the deputies and leadership will help capitalize our greatest asset: the employees.

With regard to the budget, the sheriff is tasked with overseeing a $40 million budget and it is imperative he be a good steward of every taxpayer dollar. I will work diligently to ensure each budgetary decision is made with both the best interests of the department and our citizens’ safety in mind in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

QUESTION

With county growth comes more frequent crime, traffic violations and crashes. How would you lead the county’s largest law enforcement agency in this changing landscape?

FOREMAN: Again, more than two years ago, I published a position and plan on this subject. Our community has seen more growth in the previous 10 years than what many folks recognize. Our highways and county roads have seen increased risk based on the sheer number of daily drivers. With that comes more vehicle crashes, etc. When the community hires me to be their sheriff, a dedicated traffic unit is in the strategy. The professional presence of the traffic deputies will change driving behaviors, as well as, the evolution of our deputies focused on accountability of traffic violators. We will see an improvement quickly in this performance.

While this comes with costs, I have already begun efforts to design some of these costs away from our local tax dollars. The design of our telecommunications group to have specific resources focused on traffic risks and community complaints will get the needed information to field resources immediately. The tracking and trending of this data are also critical. It will drive the resources to the places where they are needed the most. More to this overall traffic strategy is the many other law enforcement agencies in the county.

My 38 years of relationships in Brazoria County will be brought to bear. I believe we can work side-by-side with these agencies and certainly impact the increased risk we are experiencing on our highways and county roads. I believe this work starts with a “One Community” approach. It matters that the south end of the county, and all the cities or towns there, understands the risk peaks/valleys of the other regions of the county. It matters that I have relationships with all the oil and gas refineries, chemical and petrochemical operators in our county. Being able to visit with all these folks and understanding upcoming projects, turnaround season, emergencies, etc. makes a difference in being prepared.

RHYNE: It is no secret that higher visibility of marked patrol cars and uniforms helps to deter crime. I would work toward increasing the number of patrol cars, possibly even to a take-home fleet. Until that can be accomplished, all vehicles, even unmarked vehicles, would have working grill/window lights with sirens. They would be allowed to stop traffic while traveling from place to place during their normal investigative shifts. During times of emergency situations, even the unmarked vehicles can be used to patrol streets. A specially trained traffic unit, educated in accident reconstruction and DWI enforcement is certainly needed.

STALLMAN: We must first address some internal needs such as the fact our sheriff’s office has been and is currently operating understaffed. First and foremost, the cause of the shortage will be identified and efforts will be focused on filling open positions. This amplified presence will allow a higher visibility with quicker response times, creating safer streets and communities, all crucial with the expanding population.

While the foundation of the agency is solid, my strategic plan to expand and strengthen our external effects in our community to address the population rise comprises several key areas.

First, expansion of the current mental health division to provide more resources to those in need of these services will be an essential priority. Second is the implementation of specialized crime specific enforcement programs with some of these including narcotic interdiction, traffic enforcement, crime reduction units, auto theft, burglary and robbery. Additionally, the jail division and staff will need to adequately grow in order to deliver the required services needed for effective operation.

It will also be crucial for us to possess a proactive mindset to the urban trends that are pushing into our communities and combat the types of illegal activity subsequently inherited by the growth of bordering counties.

Courtney Blackann is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0152.

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