Candidate profile: Wess Winn

Photo by Dave A. Vance.
Wess Winn

ELLIS COUNTY — Learn more about Wess Winn in his own words as he runs for Ellis County Sheriff in the 2016 Republican primary.

Election day voting will be held on March 1, 2016 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click here for a list of election day polling locations. Early voting will take place February 16, 2016 through February 26, 2016. Click here for a list of early voting locations and times.

Click here to view and compare all County Sheriff candidates' answers on one page.

Wess Winn questionnaire responses

1) What is your current age?


2) What is your city of residence?

Waxahachie, TX

3) How many years have you lived in Ellis County?


4) Tell us a little about your family.

I have been married for 18 years and have 3 kids.

5) Describe your education.

B.S. Northwestern State University (NSU) 1997

6) What public office experience do you have?

I have served on the WISD school board for 20 months.

7) What is your occupation?

Police Officer-Waxahachie Police Department (12+ years).

8) Describe your church and civic involvement.

FBC Waxahachie (licensed as a minister there in 1998 and ordained as a deacon in 2014),
Lions Club International.

9) Please provide a biographical narrative.

I was born in Waxahachie in 1972 at WC Tenery Hospital. My parents, grandparents and great grandparents were all Ellis county natives. Baseball was pretty much my life growing up. It paid for my college and then I had the opportunity to play in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. I went back and coached in 1996-1997 at NSU and graduated. I also met my wife during this time. When I came back to Waxahachie I worked within the ministry for some time either as a youth minister or as camp staff at Mt. Lebanon in Cedar Hill. I went into full time teaching at Venus ISD in the fall of 2001 and also coached baseball. I resigned from Venus in 2003 and began working for the WPD in the fall of 2003.

10) What motivated your interest in running for Ellis County Sheriff?

It’s time to expect more from the office of Sheriff. We need someone who sets goals, which can be measured and then looks for ways to improve on those goals.

11) Briefly and succinctly define the job responsibilities of the office you are seeking.

Job duties of the Sheriff included but are not limited to:

a) maintaining the jail
b) security of county buildings
c) and protection of the rural areas of Ellis County

12) What qualifications and professional experiences do you possess that are applicable to law enforcement responsibilities the position you are seeking requires? Be specific.

I have worked in many different areas from teaching, working with volunteers, running a small business and interaction with citizens as the crime prevention officer with the WPD. In all these positions I learned that it is ok to ask for help when you needed, which is a skill any good leader should have.

13) What qualifications do you possess that will enable you to manage a budget of over $8 million for the Sheriff’s Office and over $10 million for jail operations? Be specific.

Our budget at the WISD is over $70 million and this is one of the 3 things a school board member has to approve. I am able to go over it and see exactly where our money is being spent.

14) How has your education prepared you for this office?

I don’t look at my BS degree as my education so much as the people I have worked with or been around in my life. I think that is where I have received my education, listening to people smarter/wiser than me.

15) Have you declared bankruptcy or have had any liens placed upon you in the past 10 years? If so, please explain.


16) What distinguishes you from your opponent(s)?

This will be released soon.

17) Is there any additional training that you plan to seek to assist you in the duties of Sheriff?

Always. If you’re not learning, then there is no way to set goals and measure yourself.

18) What are the three greatest challenges facing Ellis County related to the position you are seeking? If elected, what measures would you propose to resolve them?

These will be released soon.

19) If elected, what are your top three priorities? How will you work with other elected officials and county staff to achieve them? Be specific.

These will be released soon.

20) If elected, what is the number one change you hope to accomplish in the Sheriff’s Office or jail? Please explain.

Get protection for the employees of the sheriff dept. This will be set up in my policies and procedures. Employees should not have to worry about losing their jobs or rank just because they do not agree with everything the sheriff says.

21) What will happen to the current staff if you are elected Sheriff? Will there be sweeping changes, or will you retain people in leadership? Please explain.

Every president brings in his on cabinet just as I would bring in my own chief deputy. Those deputies and jailers of the ECSO depend on their jobs and I don’t plan on getting rid any of them.

22) What is the appropriate budget size for the Sheriff’s Office and why should the current budget be cut, remain the same or increased?

This is something I will have to see as I go. I have looked over the last 10 years of budgets but would still need more time to look and see ways to improve it for the deputies and taxpayers.

23) What is the appropriate budget size for the jail and why should the current budget be cut, remain the same or increased? Please explain.

This is something I will have to see as I go. I have looked over the last 10 years of budgets but would still need more time to look and see ways to improve it for the jailers and taxpayers.

24) Technology is constantly changing and advancing; what technological advances would you like to introduce to the Ellis County Sheriff's Department?

Good body cameras will be brought in as soon as money is located within the budget.

25) Do you support body cameras for Sheriff’s Deputies? Please explain.

see previous

26) If elected, what will you do to ensure accountability from your employees?

see #24

27) In 2013, some Ellis County elected officials were actively and aggressively looking into the possibility of privatizing jail operations at the Wayne McCollum Detention Center before the idea was rejected. What is your position on privatizing the county jail and what actions would you take to fulfill that position?

No. But on November 21, 2013 Johnny Brown told the Waxahachie Rotarians taking the jail private was his idea. The Waxahachie Daily light has the article.

28) What resources will you use to address the mentally ill population in custody and charged with criminal offenses? What steps do you plan with mental health and alcohol and other drug abuse services?

This would be something we would address during a comprehensive jail review.

29) What is your position on using inmates for labor? Please explain.

I think it is great as long is the man power to guard the prisoners is there. It can help save some money for the county.

30) In your opinion, what are the most important qualities that a Sheriff needs to have?

People skills, Accountability and Trust

31) Where do you believe a citizen's rights come from?


32) How will you defend the right of citizens to carry firearms, as defined in the Constitution of the United States of America?

It is our constitutional right to bear arms and this is something I am adamant about.

33) What is your opinion on asset forfeiture for individuals who have not been found guilty in a court of law?

I do not agree with it. There is a right way to seize property but everyone should receive due process (trial) first.

34) Federal, state and local laws sometimes conflict with the original intent of the Constitution of the United States of America. If elected, how do you plan to enforce laws which may conflict with the Constitution?

This is one we will have to take case by case. Safety of my citizens is the first priority.

35) How can the office of Sheriff best serve the citizens of the county?

Be more visible in the rural areas where they are needed.

36) What is your opinion on local law enforcement agencies employing military style training, equipment and tactics?

Until you have been involved in a critical incident it is hard to explain to the everyday citizen why this training or equipment is needed. It is not to intimidate but to make sure I go home every night to see my family and my other officers the same. I think educating the public on these issue is key.

37) If elected, how will you foster an environment that ensures fair treatment of all people that are served by the Ellis County Sheriff's Office? Please provide an example.

The same way I have done for 12 years. Treat everyone the way in which you want to be treated and this goes for those people in your custody. It is not up to me to judge but to keep people safe. It starts at the top.

38) If elected, how would you reach out and form relationships with residents of Ellis County and how would you reach out to those residents in the outlying areas of the county?

That is the main idea behind my past assignment (8.5 years crime prevention community service) with the WPD. These folks need to be educated on ways to keep their property and lives safe. I know how to reach out to these areas.

39) If elected, what are the factors on which you will base your decisions as Sheriff?

Those around me and ultimately what I believe is right which comes from my strong faith. It will NOT be based on political correctness but what is right.

40) Why should voters choose you?

Because I am tired of just being good. We have good churches, schools, cities. Why can’t we be great. It just takes someone with a vision and plan and I have both.