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Area sheriff races begin to take shape

By Robyn Claridy
July 23, 2011 at 10 p.m.

Several East Texas sheriffs have announced their intention to run for re-election, but the 2012 ballot is far from set.

Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano, Harrison County Sheriff Tom McCool, Upshur County Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Rusk County Sheriff Danny Pirtle all are up for re-election in March, and all have expressed interest in running for another four-year term.

In two counties, sheriffs are drawing potential challengers.

In Upshur County, three people have filed campaign treasurer reports to run against Betterton, who is under indictment for official oppression and gift to a public servant. The three challengers are Larry Webb, Donald L. Willeford and Gerard "Gregg" Mandreger.

In Rusk County, Darryl Norris and Charles Williamson have expressed their intent to run for sheriff in 2012.

The treasurer reports are an indication the men are planning to run for election.

No one yet has expressed such interest in running against Cerliano or McCool, elections office and county officials said Thursday.

<strong>Upshur County</strong>

Webb, of Pritchett, works as a police area representative sergeant and SWAT team supervisor with the Longview Police Department, according to Longview police officials. He has worked as a patrol officer, street crimes unit investigator, K9 officer, field training officer and bike patrol officer. He also served as a military police officer while serving in the Army.

Mandreger is the police academy director of the Alert Academy in Big Sandy, adjunct instructor at Kilgore College Police Academy and is a reserve police officer with the White Oak Police Department. He has worked as the Upshur County emergency management coordinator and has worked for several police departments since beginning his law enforcement career in 1984.

Willeford is a security officer with Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview. Officials said he has worked for both the Gregg and Upshur County sheriff's offices, as well as for the attorney general's office.

Betterton was elected to office in November 2000 and re-elected in 2004 and 2008. He started his Upshur County career as a deputy in the sheriff's office in 1983 and stayed there until he moved to the juvenile probation office in 1997.

<strong>Rusk County</strong>

Norris, of Henderson, began his law enforcement career with the Rusk County Sheriff's Office in 1988 as a jailer. He also has been a patrol sergeant, auto theft task force officer, K9 handler and mounted patrol, and served as chief deputy under two Rusk County sheriffs.

In 2009, he was charged with assault/family violence and suspended from the Rusk County Sheriff's Office after being charged with the Class A misdemeanor.

Norris' wife, Laura, said the charges were dismissed against him, and the charge was expunged from his record.

Rusk County officials said they couldn't confirm the information or comment on the offense. Sheriff spokeswoman Viki Penny said she couldn't confirm whether he was released from employment from the department.

Williamson, of Tatum, is a retired prison warden who now as a consultant for a correctional facility, officials said.

Pirtle was elected to office in November 2008 after defeating former Sheriff Glen Deason. Pirtle worked for the Rusk County Sheriff's Office, as well as for the Kilgore Police Department before becoming sheriff.

<strong>Gregg, Harrison counties</strong>

Cerliano was elected sheriff in 2000 and re-elected in 2004 and 2008. He began his law enforcement career as a patrol officer with the Kilgore Police Department in 1978. By 2000, Cerliano was an assistant police chief.

McCool was elected sheriff in 2000, Harrison County spokesman Jay Webb said. Before being sheriff, McCool worked as a game warden for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Gregg County Election Administrator Kathryn Nealy said it was still a little early for people to be filing campaign treasurer reports.

The candidates cannot officially file for office until Nov. 12, she said. She said the last day to file is Dec. 12.

The election is in March.



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