GREGG COMISH CANDIDATES COMBO

Former Kilgore Mayor Joe Parker, left, and retired Gregg County Sheriff’s Investigator Floyd Wingo are vying to become the next Pct. 3 commissioner.

Hopefuls for seat on Gregg court tout public service

{child_byline}By Jimmy Daniell Isaac

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Two friends and longtime public servants — one in law enforcement, the other in civic service — are in a race to become the next Pct. 3 representative on the Gregg County Commissioners Court.

Former Kilgore Mayor Joe Parker and retired Gregg County sheriff’s Investigator Floyd Wingo say their friendship will be intact no matter the outcome of their two-man Republican primary election March 3. Early voting begins Tuesday.

“It’s just that we want the same position,” Parker said. “Whatever decision the citizens make, we’ll still be friends and we’ll still support each other.”

Pct. 3 Commissioner Gary Boyd has announced he won’t seek reelection after nine years on the court.

Parker is a fourth-year member of the Kilgore ISD board of trustees.

Wingo, of White Oak, has been Gilmer Police Department’s assistant chief since 2017 after he retired from Gregg County.

Both men tout business and military experience.

Wingo owned and operated a lawn care service for 15 years until 2015, and he served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Parker, a disabled Vietnam veteran, has owned and operated an upholstery business in Kilgore for about 50 years.

Neither is shy in talking about why he believes he’s the best man for the job.

When asked what separates him from his Election Day opponent, Wingo said, “As a commissioner serving the public, a lot of people would consider a public servant as a politician. I wouldn’t call myself a politician. I took an oath to protect and serve the public. I think that I’m still abiding by that oath. It would just be taking on a different aspect as taking care of roads and bridges to keep our public safe.”

Parker answered the question by saying, “I’d probably say that the difference between Floyd and I is I’ve dealt with the public on the (Kilgore City) Council, as the mayor and the Kilgore ISD board, and I think I’ve had more practical, on-the-job dealing with those individuals in that type of situation than he has, and as far as that, that would be the only difference I can think of between us.”

Parker has served the city of Kilgore 17 years, including 11 years as mayor before moving outside of the city.

Both candidates mentioned leadership on Pct. 3 roads and bridges — along with upcoming state highway projects in the next few years — as motivation for seeking office.

“There is a lot of work to be done in Pct. 3 right now,” Wingo said, “and I feel like I’m the person to get the work done.”

Parker ran unsuccessfully against Boyd in 2012 when Boyd won his first full term in office — Boyd had been appointed to the job in 2010 when the previous Pct. 3 commissioner resigned midway through his term.

Boyd “has done a good job” in reducing his budget and keeping up roads, Parker said, but Pct. 3 has “one wooden bridge towards (Liberty City) that needs to be replaced.”

Wingo lauded the court’s actions toward expanded parking options surrounding the Gregg County Courthouse, including pursuing a possible multi-story parking garage with office space.

“That’s important for our citizens,” Wingo said. “We have a lot of older people that go to court. They get subpoenaed and asked to come testify on a regular basis. There is very little to no parking up by the courthouse.”

The News-Journal asked both men what they believe that the Commissioners Court should improve upon or do differently.

“The dollars per road mile per precinct is a major cause of concern for me,” Wingo said noting that Pct. 3 has more road miles than Pcts. 1 and 4 combined.

“I’ve heard the arguments about why that’s so — that there’s more of a tax base in the city of Longview than there is in Pct. 3, which is the western side of the county – but it’s all Gregg County,” Wingo said. “We’re all supported by the same tax rate and the same tax base as far as county taxes go, so I would like to see there be a bigger distribution of road dollars to Pct. 3.”

Parker said that it was hard to answer the question “because I don’t have all of that information,” but he went on to say that he would support a resolution protecting the Second Amendment in the county.

“I think if people want to carry guns, they ought to be able to carry guns,” Parker said, adding that there are “some counties that have already passed bills to protect guns in the county.”

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Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.