Gaines County voters can begin making their party primary election decisions beginning Tuesday morning, as the start of the nine day early voting process for the upcoming March 4 Democratic/Republican Party primaries begins at two polling locations within Gaines County.


In the approaching party primary elections, six local races are up for consideration, according to Seminole Sentinel records. 


Three of the races feature Gaines County offices, which include: Gaines County Judge, Gaines County Commissioner, Pct. 4, and Gaines County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2. The other three area offices, which include the representation of Gaines County, include: U.S. House of Representatives, Texas Dist. 19; Texas Senate Dist. 31, and Texas House Dist. 83.


All six local election decisions for the March 4 party primaries will can be found on the Republican Party ticket, as no local Democrats filed for the party primary process during a 30-day filing period late last calendar year.


The party primary early voting process will be held each business day through Friday, Feb. 28, at two locations in Gaines County: the City of Seminole's Ambassador Room and the Seagraves Community Building. Poll locations for the early voting process will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., according to officials with the Gaines County Elections Administration Office.


"We are hoping for a good turnout this election," said Patricia Robertson, Gaines County Elections Administrator in a Friday morning interview with the Seminole Sentinel.


Robertson stated six early voting machines will be situated at the Seminole early voting location and five machines will be set up in Seagraves in anticipation of a busy early voting process.


"We're going to use just about everything (voting machines) we've got for this election," said Robertson, who said the County possessed 43 electronic voting machines.


According to Friday morning figures, the largest total of eligible registered voters will be participating in the March 4 election process, as 7,848 voters qualify to cast ballots this election cycle.


In the Gaines County Judge's race, former County Judge Tom Keyes will square off with former Seminole Police Dept. Chief M.D. "Mickey" Browne in the March 4 primaries.


Keyes announced his election intentions with the Seminole Sentinel on back on Nov. 14, 2013, according to the newspaper's accounts.


“I’ve chosen to run for County Judge for the same reasons I ran in 2006," said Keyes in a press release issued to the Seminole Sentinel. "Gaines County needs a Chief Executive who has a vision for the future of Gaines County and is not willing to just maintain the status quo, or just do projects that promote their own personal or political ambitions."


Keyes was defeated by current Gaines County Judge, Lance Celander, in the 2010 election process.


Celander, who originally had intentions to seek re-election in the March 2014 cycle, withdrew his name from the race on Dec. 9, 2013 -- the final day of candidate filing for local positions. Celander, in explaining his decision with the Sentinel on Dec. 9, stated he was going to "pursue other interests" outside the County Judge's post. His term will expire on Dec. 31 of this year.


Browne, a 23-year resident of Gaines County, retired in November 2012 after serving 22 years as the Chief of Police for the Seminole Police Dept.


"I have worked in County and Municipal Government, along with private business for 46 years," said Browne in his Dec. 2, 2013 announcement. "I served in supervisory positions for over 30 of those years."


In his press release, Browne stated his past work experience covers all areas of criminal justice, management, administrative processes, budget development and control, employee relations and teamwork, leadership, Principles of Organization, training and education, along with many non-police functions.


Browne, 68, is a 1963 graduate of Winters High School, a 1975 graduate of Midland College (A.A.S.) and the FBI National Academy, (96th session, 1974).


He and his wife Jeannie, a PIEMS Clerk with the Seminole Independent School District, have two children: De'An of Midland and Jarod of Lubbock, as well as two grandchildren.


"I am asking the citizens of Gaines County for the opportunity to serve as their County Judge, and be a positive member and team player of their County Commissioners' Court," said Browne.


In the Pct. 4 Commissioner's race, incumbent seat holder and longtime Seminole/Gaines County resident Biz Houston will take on fellow longtime Seminole resident Ricky Baccus.


Houston will be seeking his first full-term of office, subject to the March 2014 Republican Party primary elections process.


"It's been a honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Pct. 4, and Gaines County as a whole, and I appreciate the support they have given me since I have been in office," said Houston on Thursday.


Houston, 54, a life-long resident of Gaines County, is the sone of the late Wootsie and Nelda Houston. He is a graduate of Seminole High School and attended West Texas A&M University in Canyon.


He and his wife Cheryl, a nurse with the Seminole Independent School District, have two children, Clay of Midland and Ty of Seminole, as well as two grandchildren.


Houston, in September 2011, was appointed to the Pct. 4 Commissioners seat upon the retirement of former long-time Commissioner, Charlie Lopez.


Houston, in the 2012 election process, was successfully elected to the Pct. 4 seat for an unexpired term, to fill out the vacancy left behind from Lopez's departure.


Baccus, 55, filed his intentions to seek the office on the final day of the 2014 March Party Primary filing process, which occurred last Monday (Dec. 9), with the Gaines County Republican party.


Baccus has been a resident of Gaines County since 1972 and a Business owner of Baccus Drilling since 1991. He is a 1976 graduate of Seminole High School. 


He and his wife, Cindy (Jeter), have one son, Len, a daughter-in-law, Carrie, and two grandchildren, Brooklyn and Boston.


"I believe I have the background and experience to manage the personnel, facilities and infrastructure of Gaines County," said Baccus. "I would appreciate your support and hope to earn your vote."


Baccus added: "I would like to hear your concerns and issues with Pct. 4 and/or the County. We are fortunate to live in a county as richly blessed as ours and I would like to see it continue.


"Our energy and agriculture industries may not always be strong enough to support a lot of the current and future needs of our county. We  need to start planning to conserve for those days, hopefully not in the near future. I would like to see our children and grandchildren experience the same great life we have been blessed with here in Gaines County."


Gaines County's largest contested race will feature three challengers for the Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 seat, currently held by Seagraves resident B.W. Baucum.


The candidates for the race include Seagraves residents Calvin Sellers and Henry Winsor.