Small wins with Tom Watson, Republican candidate for Gregg County DA


Update: Watson unseated 10-year incumbent Carl Dorrough. With no Democratic challenger, Watson is set to be sworn in January 1.

Michael: Hello, friends welcome to Manufacturing Leadership: An Oil and Gas Podcast.

This is your host Michael Clements. Coming to you today, I have good friend and Republican candidate for the Office of Gregg County District Attorney Tom Watson. How are you doing today, Tom?

Tom: I'm doing great, Michael. I appreciate you inviting me to be on the show.

Michael: Since you got started on your campaign trail last year, this was something that, not necessarily the podcast, but something I was very excited about. Just knowing you from the golf course, in friendship, and also being on the Meadowbrook Classic board together.

I've been excited for you since we discussed it last year. So, when we got the podcast going it only seemed fitting that we have you on and give you an opportunity to tell us more about yourself.

Tom: Like I said, I do appreciate you inviting me on the show. You and your father have been great friends to us over the years. We really enjoy getting to know you better, and like you said, we did meet pretty much playing golf or at the Meadowbrook Classic committee meetings and our relationship has grown since then, and I really do consider you a good friend.

Michael: Well, I appreciate that, Tom. We are very excited to have you here. Tom's running for District Attorney in Gregg County. 

Early voting starts February 20. Election day is March 6. Something new here in Gregg County is that you're able to vote at any polling location. 

View a list of all East Texas polling locations here.

Tom, do you think that's going to play a factor in this election?

Tom: I think it creates a better convenience for the voters. You're not restricted to the area where you have to go and vote.

If you're in Kilgore, but you live in White Oak or Gladewater, you could cast your vote there in Kilgore if you have the time. So, I think it's a convenience thing for the voters, and it helps them to not have to worry about where they have to go to vote. They can go to any of the polling locations.

Michael: I think it's a wonderful use of technology, and if your county is not doing it, go tell them you want to be able to vote anywhere in the county.

It is wonderful, though, because if you live in Kilgore, but work in Longview, you may not have an opportunity to get over to the polling location. And not everybody does vote early; I do try to myself. 

You can also check Tom out on his website and he's also on Facebook.

Tom: Yes, it's Tom B. Watson for D.A on Facebook. We have more than a thousand followers, and it's growing daily. If you haven't gone to the Facebook page and followed it, I encourage you to do so because that's where we send out quite a bit of information, like upcoming events and different posts regarding the issues in this race.

Michael: Tom you've also gone live a couple of times, right?

Tom: Well, I've gone live once. It was actually on a block walk. We were over in the Pine Tree area. Block walking is a great way to meet people. We had a lot of fun. You get to go up and talk to people and the voters. 

You know, a lot of the people are just not informed about the issues. So, whenever you get to meet with them face-to-face, they get to ask you questions and you can inform them on the issues and your position on those issues.

It really creates a learning environment for the voters, so block walking is vital in our campaign. And, I expect to go live more on those block walks as well as other opportunities.

Michael: Your big stance has to do with prosecuting criminals. Is that correct?

Tom: Well yes, the District Attorney's Office is charged with prosecuting all the criminal cases filed in Gregg County. Currently, the district attorney has a staff of about 33 people.

Not all of those are prosecutors but there are certain prosecutors assigned to each court. You have a misdemeanor division and then a felony division. Their job is to prosecute the criminal cases presented by our law enforcement.

Michael: How is that job being done right now?

Tom: Well, I've known the incumbent for many years, and he's a great man. I didn't come out to run against the incumbent based off any vendetta or anything with regard to his character. He has a good character. He's a godly man. 

But, over the years we have seen a decline in the prosecution rates. There are inmates that have been in jail for three-to-five years just waiting for a trial. That's something the public isn't really aware about. These inmates waiting for trial are not serving a sentence. 

If they were serving a sentence, great, that's where they need to be, but these are individuals that were arrested and charged with a crime. Then they sit there two, three, four and even up to five years before they are ever taken to trial. 

It costs the taxpayers thousands of dollars. It cost about $31-a-day to house an inmate in a Gregg County jail, and that doesn't include medical conditions - like if they have to go to the hospital or if they have to have dental work. That is expense that is lumped on top of that $31-a-day for living expenses. 

I'm not a proponent of rushing to trial, and that's one of the misconceptions or pieces of information the opponent is sending out. That's not the case at all.

However, I do think the D.A. can better lead his people to be more diligent in getting those cases ready for trial in a timely fashion. That's one of the big issues. 

The second big issue is that our law enforcement agencies are really frustrated with his leadership of that office. He's lost the confidence of quite a few of our administrators. 

I'm not just talking about the rank and file officers. We're talking about Sheriff Maxey Cerliano, who has publicly endorsed me, Chief Terry Roach here in White Oak and Chief Todd Hunter in Kilgore. 

We also have the professional organizations. The Longview Police Officers' organization who voted unanimously to endorse me over the incumbent; as well as the Kilgore Police Association. They have also  unanimously voted to endorse my campaign for district attorney.

Michael: I would say that as someone running for D.A., it's very important to have the support of law enforcement.

Tom: Oh, absolutely. The district attorney is responsible for prosecuting criminal matters. If there's a disconnect between our law enforcement and our D.A., then the whole county suffers because we see crime rates go up. 

What really bothers me is I'm tired of opening a newspaper and seeing somebody say Longview is one of the most violent cities to live in per capita in the nation. We have great law enforcement agencies out there doing their best. But there is a disconnect. And I believe that disconnect is in between our law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney.

Michael: Sounds like one of the things that could be restored is that confidence in our law enforcement. That they know criminals are being prosecuted and everything is going through the correct process. 

Tom: That's correct. 

Michael: I think that's a great base for the campaign. It definitely got me excited whenever we were discussing it and it makes a lot of sense. I'll tell you, I want the person that does have the support of law enforcement in there. If anything else that's who I want in there.

Tom: Yes, and I agree. You know that's one of the questions that I've been asking people when I'm out doing the block walks. 

"Do you think it's important for the district attorney to have the support of our local law enforcement? 

The obvious question to that is, 'absolutely, yes,' and whenever you have a challenger come out with the endorsements of a super majority of our law enforcement, well, that should set off red flags to those people that are on the edge as to who to vote for.

Michael: Let's get into a little bit of background about yourself, Tom. 

Tom: Well, currently, I'm an attorney over in Kilgore at the firm of Phillips, Watson and Gilchrist. We primarily handle civil litigation; we do a lot of civil trial work and motions practice. We also have a title company, so we do a lot of real estate work as well. We represent several oil and gas companies; as well as several banks in the area. 

We're a pretty rounded law firm. We stay quite busy. 

One of the things I've had to really work with is juggling all of my responsibilities during this campaign. You know, trying to stay on top of my practice so I can keep the lights on, but at the same time, find time to come out and meet folks, like talking with you today, or going block walking or putting up signs. 

It's a lot to handle; you really have to form a team of volunteers that are equally as excited about getting out and working for you. That's been a big challenge, but it's come together real well for me.

Michael: What was your first job? 

Tom: My grandfather's name was Sonny Lee; he lived in Kilgore and was an entrepreneur. He owned Lee's Butane Service; my father worked for him as well, and then they started a company called Water Blasco, which was a high-pressure water cleaning service. 

We did a lot of contract work at a Texas Eastman and several of the refineries. So, that was my first job; it was going up and cleaning the toilets and sweeping the floors.  

Michael: Humble experience

Tom: Sure, but, I mean it puts money in your pocket so you can spend the money to go to movies or whatever. 

But, my first real job was actually at Blue Bell Ice Cream; the one that they opened up over on Estes Parkway. I guess I was probably 16 or 17 years old whenever that facility was built, and I actually laid the sod, the grass out there.  

I actually was in the process of opening that store, and then we worked there loading trucks and unloading the ice cream. They really do eat all they can and then sell the rest. We ate a lot of ice cream and almost got sick of it. But that was the first job and I really enjoyed those days.

Michael: I tell you I love some Homemade Vanilla.  

Tom: Yeah.  

Michael: So when did you become a police officer?

Tom: After high school, I was kind of like a lot of our teenagers leaving high school. The first question they are usually asked is what they plan to do for a living, or they go meet with a counselor at the college. The counselor asks them what major they've chosen.

Well, that's a lot of pressure for an 18-year-old kid. You're being asked a question that may form the rest of your life, and that's why you see a lot of younger students that may change majors two or three times before they finally settle on something that really interests them.

And I was much the same way. I was into architecture quite a bit in high school and mechanical drafting. I really loved doing that. I thought I wanted to pursue that as a career.

But, eventually I kind of became bored with it. I did start out at college in the drafting department but then switched gears and started looking at other avenues.  

A buddy of mine was actually on the police force in Kilgore at the time. He would always tell me stories about being a police officer. How exciting and fun it was. How you really bond with your other officers. It's kind of like a big brotherhood of people that you join up with, and you really create some really bonding relationships. 

He asked me to come in and ride with him a couple of times, and I did. I really enjoyed it. I actually came over to Longview PD and rode a couple of times in Longview.

Maxey Cerliano was the assistant chief at Kilgore PD, and I've known Maxie ever since I was a young boy. He's family friends with my family. And of course, I always looked up to Maxey. He's a great guy. 

So he spoke into me as well about pursuing the field of criminal justice or being a police officer. I really got interested in it and started looking into it. I changed my major from drafting design to criminal justice. 

I went through the criminal justice program there in Kilgore, and I had Brian Ruthven as one of my instructors and Bill Eckhart. Anybody in law enforcement in the area knows those two guys. It was just so much fun and really learned a lot. 

After I graduated from Kilgore College with the associate degree in criminal justice, I was looking for a job. The police academy didn't start for a few months, so I had a time frame there where I was kind of twiddling my thumbs, and I needed to do something. 

So, I went to work for the prison in Overton in the B. Moore unit. I worked as a prison guard over there for a couple of years. During that time, I also went to the police academy at night. 

I was working full time and going to the police academy at night and on weekends. Once I became a licensed peace officer, I became a reserve officer with the City of Kilgore. 

In the reserve program, you're unpaid; you're a volunteer. You're a certified peace officer, but you're coming in and volunteering your time whenever they need you. You're not getting paid for it, but you're actually developing experience and learning a lot of stuff whenever you go out and ride with the officers. 

I reserved for Kilgore for quite a while, and I was there every weekend. I'd be out there Saturday, or Friday and Saturday nights, and anytime they needed me, I was there. Until finally, they had an opening come up at Kilgore and Maxey called me. He asked if I wanted to work full time and I said 'absolutely.'

So you know I jumped in, and that was, I want to say, 95 and 96. Sometime in that timeframe.

Michael: Tom, that's interesting. What was your next step?

Tom: Well, I started off in just the patrol division working deep nights, and that's usually where most rookies start off. And then, I transferred to the day shift. That's about time my son came along, and my wife wanted me home in the evening. Ultimately, I was promoted to detective.

The patrol officers they'll go out and take a report of a crime. Then, they'll turn over to the investigators with CID. We would investigate those crimes and get them ready to go to prosecution.

We deliver it to the DA's office. I worked as a detective for about six years. During that time, I was also assigned as an agent to the East Texas Violent Crimes Task Force. 

It is an agency developed by the FBI out of the Tyler office. During that time, I got to work hand-in-hand with many of the local agents of the FBI, as well as the DEA task force and also ATF. and the U.S. Marshal Service. We would travel anytime there was major crime anywhere in the Northeast Texas area.

If they called out the task force, we would load up and go investigate crimes all over northeast Texas. They were usually the higher-profile crimes or the major crimes. Whether capital murder cases or big drug interdiction-type investigations, we were out there investigating those cases as well. 

I really got the opportunity to learn a lot from the FBI guys, and the U.S. Marshals and the ATF, DEA. It also gave me a lot of exposure to testifying in many different courts. If we worked a case up in Titus County, then we would be testifying up in Titus County if it went to trial. Same way in Smith County or Gregg County or Harrison.

We worked all over, which really gave me an insight into a lot of courtroom testimony and working with many prosecutors. It got to a point where I really wanted to go back to school and finish my four-year degree. I had always promised myself, and my wife, that I would go back to school and get my four-year degree. 

I started taking some night courses and working on my degree plan through UT Tyler. They taught classes over in Tyler, and also had night classes at the Longview University Center. 

And actually, it's kind of a unique story. The very last class I had to take to finish my degree plan was an elective I found. It was a criminal law class they were teaching at the Longview center. It fit perfectly. It was a two-hour elective, and I thought being a police officer and being around criminal justice it will be a good course for me to take. 

So, I signed up for it and went the first night and it was being taught by an adjunct professor. I didn't know who the professor was going to be until I walked in the door. It was actually Judge David Brabham the 188th District Court Judge here in Gregg County. 

I was surprised to see him. He was surprised to see me. I testified in his court many times. I've been in front of him and talked with him a lot over the course of my law enforcement career. 

It was really a great class. He taught it more from a lawyer's perspective than just a class. He wouldn't just give you material, you go home and study it, and you come back and regurgitate it. You actually had to think about it. You actually had to apply issues with law and the facts and things like that. 

It was a very interesting course. I finished that course and actually made an A. On the night of the final exam Judge Brabham pulled me to the side and said 'hey Tom, you ever considered going to law school?'.

At the time, I really haven't given it much thought. I kind of tinkered with it. It would pop in my head every now and then, but I hadn't really given it much thought. 

You and I were talking a few months ago, and we discussed how we believe that certain people were placed in your life for a purpose. They may not even know God put them in that position to speak into somebody's life, but I believe that was a God thing. I think that Judge Brabham pulled me to the side privately and mentioned that to me for a reason. That was God planting the seed in me. 

It's something that really started growing within me to seek advice and counsel on going to law school. That's kind of how I transition out of law enforcement and then started seeking my Juris Doctorate. I went and took the LSAT exam, which is the law school entrance exam, and did well on it. I was above the median average across the state of Texas. Then I started sending out my applications to different law schools.

Here I am 33 or 34 years old, after having a career in law enforcement. It's kind of uncommon for people of that age to actually pursue and go back to law school. It happens, but most of the young one L's, is what they call them, are straight out of college or they go to a high school get their four-year degree and then they go straight to law school. 

It was a little bit of a different scenario for me. So I sent out my applications, and I got accepted to Texas Wesleyan, which I believe you went to Texas Wesleyan. Is that right?

Michael: Yes, sir. 

Tom: I was waiting on the spot at another university, and so I was kind of juggling which way to go. I was actually going over to the district attorney's office one day to talk to Alfonso Charles about a case we had together. Bill Jennings was our district attorney at the time; Bill saw me walk past his door, and he told me to come in. 

I came in and shut the door. 

Bill said, "I hear you're planning on going to law school."

I said, "sure." He asked me if I applied to Texas Tech. 

I said, "no, sir. I have not."

He said, "why not?" 

I said, "that's out in the desert." 

I didn't know anybody out there. It's out in West Texas. It's eight hours away, and I just really hadn't considered going to Texas Tech.

He said, "well, hang on a second." 

So, he picks up the phone and calls the dean of the law school. He talked to the dean. He hangs up the phone and says 'Tom, you're accepted into Texas Tech's School of Law if you want to go.'

Needless to say, I went to Texas Tech. I finished my law degree there and took the bar exam. I actually took the bar exam early. I took the bar exam in February before I graduated that May. I passed the bar exam so when I graduated, I was a licensed attorney. It was pretty neat to do it that way.

Michael: Yeah. 

One of the topics on our show is leadership, of course, and it sounds like you've come across some tremendous leaders in your lifetime. I think another testament to even your leadership ability, Tom, is the fact that you said 'OK, I'm not just graduating college. I need to go to law school.' 

And, you followed that path. I think for leadership a lot of times you think well maybe 'I'm too old for this,' or maybe, 'I'm too young for this.' Doubt lingers on everybody; whether you're a leader, whether you're not a leader. No matter what position you're in. Those doubts can linger in our minds. 

I think a true testament to a person's leadership potential is their ability to overcome those doubts and say, 'I know there's a path for my life. I know that there's a direction I'm supposed to be going in right now.' And you stay obedient to that course.

Tom: Yes, that's correct. I don't know who said this, but I remember hearing it; they said, 'if you're not growing, you're dying.' That's something that has always been a part of me. I never want to become stagnant. I have never wanted to just stay put in one position forever. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's just part of my DNA. My makeup is: I'm always looking for the next step. 

I'm always seeking counsel and seeking God on what that next step is. I'm a strong believer; you know that. You are too, and we've had those discussions as well. And, I'm going to seek God's will for my life. If step on toes, so be it.

One of my favorite verses is found in Colossians 3 and it says 'whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it mightily unto the Lord, and not as unto men.' I believe that I'm not here working to please mankind. I believe I'm here working to please God. 

That's kind of the motto I live by. That's something that is really strong in my heart. Whenever I decided to take these steps, whether it was going to the police academy or going back to school, or going to law school, or now running for the Office of District Attorney. 

It's not something I just pulled out of thin air. It's something I've committed much time to. I've committed a lot of prayer to. I've sought godly counsel from people that have mentored me and spoken into my life over the years. All those things, I've done before I've made that step to make sure that I was seeking the will of God not the will of Tom. 

Michael: That can definitely be a leadership challenge.Who are we serving? And I think that's a tremendous example for all of us to live by, Tom. It speaks testaments to your ability to be a leader in our community.

One of the topics we wanted to discuss are small wins. They are very important for leaders. As leaders, we have great visions and things we want to accomplish. However, they require that we get up every day and be motivated and motivate others. 

I thought a tremendous conversation we could have was around small wins and how important they are. I know in manufacturing and working with different departments, every single day you've got to be taking small steps that you know are going to lead to something bigger.

Sometimes if you start talking about the bigger goal at hand, it can be intimidating to others. Sometimes you lose your focus because you're so focused on what could happen versus what you got to do tomorrow. 

As far as small wins go, when I think them for a politician - it's probably your conversations. Asking someone if you can put a yard sign up, not just asking for a vote. There are a lot of other things. Can you give us a few examples and maybe some small wins you've had in your campaign?

Tom: It started out very small. It started off with my wife and I. We were sitting around the dinner table, just talking. Like you mentioned, we have this vision of where we want to be, but we have to figure out how to get there. 

We can't put that goal up on the board and just expect for it to fall into our laps without us putting forth the effort to take those steps to get there. Like I said, my wife and I we started out together down this journey. My children have been instrumental in helping me as well.  

We just took it a step at a time. We talked to folks that have been there; for instance, Sheriff Maxey Cerliano, we've always had a great relationship. I went and sought counsel from Maxey, and he has really assisted me and pointed me in the right direction. Judge Tim Bryan is another example. I went and talked to him, and there are others. 

I had to lay the groundwork for how I want to get from point A to point B. You can only get from point A to point B by making small steps and having small wins like you're saying. 

The first small win was to develop a core group of volunteers. If I try to do it all by myself; or, my wife and I try to do all of this, just the two of us, we're going to run ourselves ragged. We're going to be chasing our own tails, and we're never going to get to that next step. 

Our first call of action was to develop a group of volunteers that share the same vision. They understood the issues. That was a small win. The small win of me coming in and talking to you and your father a while back. 

During that conversation, you put me in touch with people you thought would be great volunteers. I've reached out to those folks, and they have. Now they're on board. They're out there campaigning on my behalf. Those are just little wins that add up. 

As you start having these little wins, it starts to snowball. There are a lot of things I've seen come to pass here within the last three-to-four weeks that are really a testament to all of the work we did in the very beginning. Without doing those beginning baby steps, you're never going to see those bigger victories. 

I have seen a lot of small victories. A lot of volunteers. A lot of people have come on board and helped me with certain things like addressing envelopes, for instance, or knocking on doors, putting door hangers on people's doorknobs and going out and delivering signs. 

I think the first order of signs we got was 500 sign because that's what our budget allowed. To get all 500 of those signs out is a different story. Well, we did that in about two weeks. Now, we ordered more signs, and now we've got another order coming in next week. It's just a matter of getting those small steps taken care of to reach that goal that we're looking for.

Michael: I love the snowball effect of the small wins. 

A lot of times you don't really even know where this is going to go. You just know every day you have to put one foot in front of the other and continue going down the path. It's amazing when a plan comes together.

Tom: Another small win, I mean it is a win, but it's really a big win. Came when I went and sat down with the Longview Police Officers Association. I've never worked for Longview  PD. I know several of those guys and have worked around them, but I never worked for Longview PD. 

I contacted the Longview Police Officers Association and asked if I could come in and meet with them. They agreed to let me do so. I came in, told them my plans and they asked me questions; I bet we were in there for a good hour or more.

I just poured my heart out on the table. I just let it all out there and let them hear my heart and my passion for this. And, I asked them for their endorsement. I thought it was a long shot. 

I mean you ask them [the police officers association, Sheriff Cerliano, White Oak Police Chief Terry Roach] to come stick their neck out on behalf of the challenger, against the incumbent. I didn't really expect to get that win.

They told me. They said, 'well, Tom. We're going to offer the incumbent the same opportunity to come in and talk to us as we gave you. Then, we'll discuss it. We're going to poll all of our association members. We're going to talk to all of them, and then, we're going to make a decision if we're going to endorse anybody at all. 

Months went by; it was two or three months. They met with the incumbent. They did their due diligence, and one day I received a call that they unanimously voted to endorse my campaign. That was a small step I took going in to meet with them.

Michael: Small step. Massive win.

Tom: Small step. Massive win. It's unprecedented that would come out and do this in this type of race.

Michael: I'm guessing that small win, or massive win, you had led to many other small wins out in the community, when you're block walking, when you're talking with others, that has to be something exceptional you're able to share.

Tom: One of the questions I ask people when I knock on their door is whether they feel it's important for the district attorney to have the support of local law enforcement. 

Michael: Absolutely. 

Tom: Absolutely. There's no question.

When they hear that; it helps them make an informed decision on the best candidate.

Michael: So Tom, with the small wins and all of these things, I guess it's really got to help that confidence with knowing your place and knowing that right now you are leading a lot of people. You're wanting to be in a position of leadership. I'd like to dive into talking a little bit about your opinion and your views on leadership. 

You don't have to be a manager. You don't have to be an executive. You can be someone who works by yourself remotely; you can still be a leader. I think that's important. You don't necessarily have to have a whole team of people behind you to be a good leader or to have leadership traits. 

If you're not from the Gregg County area, some of the names that have been dropped are heavy hitters in Tom's line of work but also in our community. You've been influenced by some of the best leaders we have, Tom. Just being around you, I get the sense you have that leadership trait we're looking for. 

How do you stay focused between work, politics and making time for your family. How have you done it?

Well, yeah. It's like I said earlier. You've seen the picture of the guy juggling the balls and trying to keep them all in the air. That's what I've been dealing with over the last few months.

But, again, I think the biggest aspect of my ability to handle all of this has been my faith, the support of my family and my church, as well as receiving messages from people I've never met. Right before we went on the podcast today, I have received a private message from somebody I've never met. 

They were just offering their support and said they're praying for me. Things like that keep you motivated to stay in the fight. I could very easily throw up my hands and say, 'this is just too overwhelming. I just need to concentrate on my family and my work.'

But, that's not what I've been called to do. Having that motivation from other people and the support of all my friends and family, it's made me more energized to get up in the morning, put on my boots and get out there and go back to work. 

Just this morning, I started at 5:30 a.m. I got up, got ready to go. I was out the door about 6 a.m. to 6:15 a.m. to meet a group of guys over in Longview and have coffee and just talk. From there, I had another meeting over in Kilgore. After that, I met another guy here in White Oak before I came over here to talk with you. 

It is just a matter of staying focused, and it's a lot about time management. In the legal field, we're all about time management because you have to stay on track. 

You have to also be able to make sure that your volunteers are on track. Every night we send out messages to the volunteers. We give them the schedule for the following day and tasks we need them to take care of. 

We assign those tasks to people so they'll know what they need to do each day. At the same time, I've got a great staff at my office. My partners at the law firm are really behind me. They're taking up the slack for me, which I can never repay them for that. My staff works with my scheduling and calendar so that I can manage my law practice as well as my campaign. 

In the evening, when it is time to go home, that's the time where my wife and I sit down and have our quiet time. When the kids were little we called it couch time. I would get home from work, and of course, the kids would run and want Daddy's attention. That's great, but we always set aside what we call 'couch time' where mom and dad sit down and talk. That helps balance that relationship as well.

Something that was said to me about leadership, and I think you know who said it, was that being a good leader is not having people work for you, it's having people work with you. That was your father who said that by the way; he said it a while back. He said, 'you don't work for me. You work with me.' And, that's what I have right now. I don't have a group of volunteers working for Tom Watson. We're there together. It's all about leading from the front and not from the rear.

You've seen the movies where two armies are facing each other; they are about to go to war, and the leaders are sitting in the back on horseback. The two armies go after it. One army is starting to get routed so its leader turns his horse around and leaves them. 

I'm more the William Wallace guy; the Braveheart guy. I want to be on the front row with all my other guys. Side-to-side, shoulder-to-shoulder fighting in the battle.

I think that's what makes a good leader. It's not somebody that sits behind a mahogany desk, points and says 'you do this; you do this.' It's the one that says, 'let's get in there and do it together.' 

Michael: Yes, sir.

Let's get in the trenches together. I think that's wonderful, and that's a massive part of leadership.

After speaking with your wife, and seeing the excitement in her eyes, you could feel how excited she is to be a part of this and to see what potentially is at stake here.

We see you at the different events. If you're the only one excited there; that's not very motivating. I mean just being at the events, being around your family, this is something that seems bigger than any one person. I think that speaks testaments to a leader's ability to get others motivated, but also finding the right people and having the right people in place.  

I've got to tell you, I had my doubts about doing a podcast and doing these things, but my wife's behind me 100 percent. She's there to motivate me; she's there whenever I may doubt myself or get down. I think that's a critical and integral part of being a leader is having someone strong behind you.

Tom: Yeah, and my wife is extremely strong. She runs circles around me. We met in high school. She wasn't originally from the area.

She moved here from Bossier. I believe it in between her sophomore and junior year of high school. She was coming in to a new school where she didn't know anybody, and the first time I laid eyes on her and that was it for me. Luckily, I snatched her up before she knew any better.

We've been together ever since. We were married in 1991, so we've been together more than 25 years. We have two beautiful kids. My son is married, and he has a beautiful daughter, and they have my first grandson on the way. 

Family is vital. The family support system has to be in place; especially whenever somebody jumps into something like I have. Without their support, there's no way I can do it. It reminds me of a Bible story. 

I believe it was Moses. There was a battle going on. As long as he had his hands raised, the Israelites were winning the battle. But whenever he started getting tired and his arm started dropping, they started to get overrun.

His sons came up and held his arms up for him. They had one son on either side holding up his arms so the Israelites could overcome that victory. That's what we all need. We need people who will to hold our arms up and support us. Even if we make a mistake, mess up or what-have-you. We have to have that support group in place. 

Michael: I wanted to ask you your advice for other leaders, but I think that's an excellent point - a support system. The support team. You can't be a leader without a good team behind you. It's just it doesn't work like that.

Tom: Well, you know as well as I do. A lot of times we feel like we have to get in there to do it ourselves because we want it to be done according to what we think is the proper way; or, we don't trust others to do it, so we get in there and want to do it ourselves. 

But being a leader you can't do that. Michael, you can't run this office, and at the same time, be out there doing the welding or driving a truck.

You have to have the ability to lead those folks and to organize a team that is going to get those task handled for you because we can't do it all ourselves. We have to be able to work with a group of guys that believe in the same vision that you do.

Michael: You have to have faith in your team. You've got to have faith that they're going to do the right things. As a godly man, maybe that's why faith is so important to our ability to grow, not only as ourselves, but as we grow in the Lord as well. 

A couple of years ago, I put on my Facebook a status update that said something along the lines of 'the greatest thing our Savior gave us was faith.' You actually commented on that, 'actually, the greatest was love.' 

That always stuck with me because it reminded me that actually love is the greatest thing that we were blessed with from our Savior. I never forgot that, and it always served as a reminder that it's important to have faith in others, it's important to have faith in my Savior, but at the same time it's important for me to love my Savior and love those around me. 

Tom: That's correct. 

Michael: When challenges come up in the workplace and challenges come up on the campaign trail, we still have to remember. It's just like you said about Carl earlier. Very good guy. Godly man. 

I feel like we're all fighting for the same things. A lot of times in politics, you have Republicans. You have Democrats. You have Libertarians. You have this party, left, right. At the end of the day, I really believe everybody wants what's best.

I don't think there's anybody that is just out there to do bad. I think we do have good leaders, and Tom I think it is important that we pick out the best leaders, and we do have these elections and do these things.

As leaders squaring off, I can really appreciate your humbleness and ability to work through this election. It does speak testament, Tom, to what you're going to be able to do, if that is the Lord's will, and you get to be the DA for our county.

Tom: Definitely look forward to serving the citizens of Gregg County. There's no question. That's what's burning within me right now, to get into a position where I can help.

I'm not a politician; this is my first attempt at running for office. I'm a little rough around the edges. I've got battle scars. It all comes from being in the battle. You can only get battle scars from being in the battle. 

Being a politician is not something I really admire or really want to be. But, this position is a political position. It's an elected position. Every four years, the district attorney has to be reelected or somebody has to be elected. 

So, the political side of it is just a necessity. There are things being said from his camp, and there are things being said from my campaign. It is a heated battle.

Carl and I are not enemies. Like I said, I don't have anything against him personally at all. It's just my belief that there is time for a change and new leadership in the DA's office. 

Michael: Sometimes a change of leadership can be really great for a community and really great for, really, a lot of different things. 

Tom, I really appreciate you coming on today. Hearing your story has been wonderful. I think that listeners are going to get a lot out of being able to listen to your background and where you came from. 

Tom, I think it's wonderful you've been able to follow in the footsteps of other leaders. You were able to recognize signals God put in front of you and stay obedient to the path he set for you. It's really easy to go wayward or go in other directions.

Tom, I've got to tell you from the outside looking in, I think you're a wonderful candidate. I know who I'll be voting for come early election on February 20. Tom, I wish you the best as you move along the campaign trail.

Tom: Thank you. Thanks, Michael. I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to come in and talk with you.

Michael: Yes, sir. I know you're a busy man, and you have a lot going on. I can't tell you how much we appreciate that you took time to join us.

Y'all just a reminder, Tom is running for the Republican candidate for the Office of Gregg County District Attorney. Early voting starts February 20. March 6 is Election Day. 

If you live in Gregg County and work in a different part of Gregg County, you'll be able to vote wherever you work or early that morning or late that evening.  

Check out our Instagram, Facebook Page and our Twitter. If you have any questions, we'd love to hear those. Also, if you have any questions for Tom before the election, we may get those and reach out to him.

Tom: Well, that's what I was going to say. You can go to my website, and sign up to become a volunteer if you like. You can ask me questions, or you can ask for a sign for your yard.

There is also a place for donations because campaigns cost quite a bit of money. We appreciate any help and support we can get.

Michael: If you're listening to the show and it's well before, February 20 there's always time all the way up until March 6. You can be involved in this campaign if you'd like to be. We want to encourage everybody to go vote. It's very important.

I think as an American, and as a right we have in this country. Go vote and, go make your voice heard. It doesn't have to be a presidential election to go out and get your voice heard. I would argue that an election like this is where your voice is heard even more.

 Tom: Yeah, I would agree.

 Michael: I want to encourage everybody to do that.

Reminder, and email us at It's been a wonderful show. Tom, thank you for coming on. 

Tom: Thank you. 

Michael: Appreciate you listening.