Hempstead County's current County Judge Haskell Morse first announced back in December 2017 that he intended to seek a third term in 2018.
Hempstead County’s current County Judge Haskell Morse first announced back in December 2017 that he intended to seek a third term in 2018. With official filing set for Thursday, Morse faces plenty of company of company as he puts his own record of three years up to the voters.
In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Morse said “I feel good about what we’ve done, but there is still plenty of work to do. I do feel like we are moving the county in the right direction. We are moving forward. Has it always been easy? No, but we are moving forward.”
Morse proudly points to a surplus in county funds, $10 million in infrastructure improvements, the Spring Hill water project, and the purchase of the Farmer’s Bank building as both visible and tangible accomplishments during his administration.
But, unlike 2015, when Morse seemed to be fighting floods and washed out roads, or 2016, when he spent a good deal of time repairing those same roads, 2017 has been a bit more challenging for the incumbent County Judge.
The purchase of the Farmer’s Bank building proved to be a long and clunky process; the purchase of a new County Judge’s truck proved to be contentious, and a suddenly vocal Quorum Court proved not to be a rubber stamp anymore.
“Every year is different, and every year brings a new set of challenges. There is no doubt the past 12 months has been very different. Have a few mistakes been made? Yes, but we are all human. Overall, I do think the county is in better shape than it has been, and we are moving it forward,” Morse said.
“The relationship with Quorum Court is actually pretty good, I think. They have a job to do, so they are asking questions and representing their constituents. I am glad to see them involved and engaged, so it doesn’t bother me if they have something to say. That is communication, which is a good thing. I consider us all one big family, and we may disagree on occasion, but afterwards, we all go out to dinner together,” Morse said.
Unlike previous contests, this cycle, Morse will see a field of challengers, not just one. Jerry Crane, Allen Flowers, Ken Harvel, and Greg Jackson have all made public announcements since December that they are seeking to unseat Morse.
Morse said, “I plan to run on my accomplishments. I am not a politician; I’ve tried to run the job like a businessman. I came in saying I will do the best job and can, and try to treat everyone fairly. I think I’ve done that, and if it’s the Lord’s will that I continue, then I will continue to do the best I can.”
Morse, now age 53, points to his ongoing experience as County Judge as well as his lifelong experiences living and working in Hempstead County why voters should “rehire him” for the job.
“All things considered, I’ve tried to be fair, and I’ve tried to improve the quality of life here. We do have over 100 miles of road that have been repaired in the past year. We have surplus in county funds, and we have several million dollars of grant projects we are working on,” Morse said.
Morse also said “We expanded the health unit; we got funding for the 278 Tyson road project. And, I think the working relationships with the other local agencies, especially the City of Hope, are better than they’ve ever been,” he said.
Morse’s familiar red-and-white election signs are again scattered throughout the county, and Morse said “I will campaign the same way I’ve always done it. You’ve got to get out there, shake hands, talk to folks, and give them the chance to talk to you. Hempstead is my home, and I have been willing to work as many hours as it takes to keep things running and safe for the people here,”
Filing started Thursday, February 22, with the Primary Elections on May 22.