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Opinion

We recommend: Tarrant County Judge

Democrat Deborah Peoples faces Republican Tim O’Hare

Tarrant County voters have a choice this election between candidates for county judge who we believe will bring starkly different approaches to the job.

One, Deborah Peoples, 70, has an optimistic and uniting presence focused on the problems that county government needs to solve for residents in this important part of our region. We fear that the other, Tim O’Hare, 53, would use the office of county judge in ways that would stoke division, with a focus on polarizing national political topics that have very little to do with running Tarrant County government.

This difference is illuminated in the way Peoples and O’Hare responded to our question about why they are running.

O’Hare, an attorney and former Farmers Branch mayor, wrote that “We’ve witnessed an unprecedented attack on our freedoms and over-reaching, power-grabbing efforts at every single level of government.” He was referring to pandemic restrictions. While we agree that schools should have opened sooner and that mask mandates stretched too long, his sense of this as a historic infringement on liberty is over the top.

Peoples, meanwhile, said she is running to show that “Tarrant Means Business.” That’s a refreshing message to people who understand that the job of local leaders needs to be attracting and keeping good jobs in Tarrant County. Peoples brings a sense of optimism and a forward-looking perspective that business leaders around this country are likely to embrace.

O’Hare’s victory in the Republican primary over longtime Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price has led to a schism among Tarrant County Republicans. Former County Judge Glenn Whitley, a GOP stalwart, has had it with the politics of division and is not supporting O’Hare. Both Price and Whitley described his primary campaign as disingenuous and misleading. Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker has said she couldn’t run in a Republican primary and look at herself in the mirror.

It’s time to send a message that this sort of politics has to stop. Peoples, a retired AT&T executive, might be to the left of us on some national political matters. But she is wholly aligned on meat-and-potatoes matters of making sure Tarrant County runs a safe jail, that John Peter Smith Hospital is among the best public hospitals in the country and that county roads are up to snuff.

If Tarrant County can do those things well, it will go a long way to making sure business thrives and people prosper. If it instead becomes ground zero for national political struggles, it will repel growth.

For that reason, we urge voters to select Peoples as the next county judge.

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