FORT WORTH, Texas - Candidates wishing to become leaders in Tarrant County spent another afternoon debating, hoping to convince voters.
For many of the candidates, this was their ninth forum. So there really wasn't any debate or talking over each other like you might expect between political rivals.
Keep in mind that for Tarrant County judge and district attorney, there is no incumbent. So these races are wide open.
With early voting in the primaries well underway in Texas, the candidates for Tarrant County judge and district attorney made their pitches directly to the voters.
"I will fight for people and hardworking families," said Tim O’Hare, Republican candidate for Tarrant County judge.
"My service is to you not to anything more than that," said Robert Buker, Republican candidate for Tarrant County judge
"One thing I took with me was my work ethic," said Byron Bradford, Republican candidate for Tarrant County judge.
"Tarrant County is at a crossroads, and you need an experienced proven leader," said Betsy Price, Republican candidate for Tarrant County judge.
The election debate was held at Texas Wesleyan University Monday. The forum was put on by KERA and the Fort Worth Report was also streamed online.
Since this is a primary election, Republican candidates debated each other. Democrats did the same.
"We've got to heal our community. Fix the disparages in our community," said Marvin Sutton, Democratic candidate for Tarrant County judge.
Candidates for county judge were asked about property taxes, the governor's audit of election the 2020 presidential election results, public education and COVID-19 pandemic response.
While the two most visible county judge candidates are Former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and former Tarrant County Republican Chair Tim O'Hare, the forum gave equal time to all candidates with one-minute answers and 30-second rebuttals.
"We have to come together with shared goals and not let people divide us," said Deborah Peoples, Democratic candidate for Tarrant County judge.
It was the same format for candidates running for Tarrant County district attorney.
"I also think I have some strengths and experience that they don't," said Rep. Matt Krause, Republican candidate for Tarrant County DA.
"I've handled the most serious cases in crime both as an ADA and district judge," said Molly Westfall, Republican candidate for Tarrant County DA.
"I have 30 years of experience in the courthouse. That's my entire career," said Phil Sorrells, Republican candidate for Tarrant County DA.
Topics included experience practicing law and how candidates would handle high profile cases, specifically that of ex-Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean, whose repeatedly-delayed trial is now scheduled for May.
"You need somebody in there who has had the broad experience," said Lawrence Myers, Democratic candidate for Tarrant County DA.
"Working in the courtroom every day for 24 years," said Tiffany Burks, Democratic candidate for Tarrant County DA.
"We're going to make sure our community is safe," said Albert John Roberts, Democratic candidate for Tarrant County DA.
SMU Political Scientist Matthew Wilson says it’s important candidates show up to these debates but says the time to change a voter's mind has largely passed.
"Most of those people are already committed to one candidate or another," he said. "At this point? They're going to have very little effect on the race unless someone does something catastrophically damaging to their campaign."
Wilson says while Tarrant County is becoming a pretty level political playing field, he believes both seats will end up going to the Republican candidate come November.