Hays County Pct. 2, 3 Constable candidates emphasize training, leadership commitment, compassion

By Megan Wehring

Candidates hoping to be elected as constable of Precinct 2 or Precinct 3 emphasized their law enforcement experience and commitment to public service during the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Hays County webinar Sept. 29.

The candidates for constable of Kyle-area Precinct 2 are Steve Avalos and incumbent Michael Torres. Wimberley-area Precinct 3 candidates are Cynthia Millonzi and William “Don” Montague.

Montague was selected to complete the unfinished term of former Precinct 3 Constable Ray Helm and will be on the ballot in November as the Republican candidate for the position.
Below are their responses to questions prepared by the LWV, utilizing community input.

Steve Avalos for Constable Pct. 2

Q: In your role as constable serving eviction notices and divorce papers, sometimes resulting in homelessness for citizens, what skills and resources do you bring to address this?
A: I feel like you do need to have good communication skills; you need to have good people skills, not only you but your deputies have to have the same training and understanding on communication in dealing with the public. You are here to deal with the public; you are here to work for the public.

Q: Culture, religious beliefs, mental health, physical disabilities and race all affect what you do in your job. What training have you completed to address these issues and what training do you think should be required of your staff?
A: Training is very important. There is updated training every year. You definitely have to have the mental health training; you have to have the culture; diversity training. You have to know how to deal with everybody and anybody who is out there on different levels. You can never have enough training in this business.

Q: In this age of racial conflict, what is your approach to racial conflicts in your department and in the community? Do you believe implicit bias training should be required of law enforcement officers?
A: I do feel we are still a long way away to get where we need to be. I am still doing my part and helping assess my fellow officers. We need to apply that in our future training and develop that as well.

Q: Why do you feel you are the most qualified for this job and what are your qualifications?
A: I have 22 years of law enforcement experience and I have a Master Peace Officer license. I have been a vested person in this community, particularly Precinct 2, and a lifelong resident. I want to be a part of the continued growth of this community and give our Precinct 2 neighbors the safety, security and constable office I think we all deserve.

Michael Torres for Constable Pct. 2

Q: In your role as constable serving eviction notices and divorce papers, sometimes resulting in homelessness for citizens, what skills and resources do you bring to address this?
A: Aside from removing children from a home, evictions are probably one of the toughest parts of our job that we have to do. Luckily, COVID-19 hit and that put a lot of that on the backburner. Training is probably one of the biggest things to help people understand the process.

Q: Culture, religious beliefs, mental health, physical disabilities and race all affect what you do in your job. What training have you completed to address these issues and what training do you think should be required of your staff?
A: COVID-19 changed the spectrum of law enforcement in general. Training is a big plus in my book and our office. My guys go through a lot of training. There is training we are required to have by state mandate: racial profiling, cultural diversity and mental health. Training is a big part in moving forward and being able to help the community when they need us.

Q: In this age of racial conflict, what is your approach to racial conflicts in your department and in the community? Do you believe implicit bias training should be required of law enforcement officers?
A: I believe there is no place for racism anywhere. There is already plenty of training out there for racism, racial profiling and cultural diversity. I encourage my guys to attend those trainings. If they are free, attend those trainings and get up to date.

Q: Why do you feel you are the most qualified for this job and what are your qualifications?
A: Four years ago, I was the best-qualified candidate to run for this position. I know I still am. I have numerous training hours, Master Peace Officer license and I have held leadership roles in two departments. I want to continue to provide to the community I live in and work for.

Cynthia Millonzi for Constable Pct. 3

Q: In your role as constable serving eviction notices and divorce papers, sometimes resulting in homelessness for citizens, what skills and resources do you bring to address this?
A: We need to remain open and compassionate. The best way to do that is to have well-trained officers who know what the resources are, how to direct people to those resources and be a facilitator to provide the best assistance we can. We want to approach everything in a peaceful way and make sure we give our community members the help they need.

Q: Culture, religious beliefs, mental health, physical disabilities and race all affect what you do in your job. What training have you completed to address these issues and what training do you think should be required of your staff?
A: An important part of having a highly effective workforce is maintaining a highly trained, technically and tactically, proficient workforce. It’s important to stay current on techniques and best practices. In the environment we are in, everything is changing rapidly. I have had a lot of training in cultural diversity and mental health.

Q: In this age of racial conflict, what is your approach to racial conflicts in your department and in the community? Do you believe implicit bias training should be required of law enforcement officers?
A: There is no place for racism in the work that we do or anywhere. I think implicit bias training is important; whether we believe we have biases or not is one thing. We always need to be constantly checking ourselves, evaluating ourselves and our organization for those biases so we can take corrective action where necessary and make prudent adjustments as we execute our duties.

Q: Why do you feel you are the most qualified for this job and what are your qualifications?
A: I was fortunate to go to the best leadership school that our country has to offer, that of the U.S. Army. I think my experience demonstrates how dedicated I am to service and my ability to learn, grow and continue to evolve. I know how to work across the aisle with state and local law enforcement agencies. I worked emergency operations, providing support after 9/11, securing infrastructure and providing all my experience in whatever operation I am in.
Not only am I a proven leader, I am highly competent in all aspects of administration from human resources to operations and logistics to procurement and budgeting. I think I bring a strong sense of leadership and commitment to my community.

William “Don” Montague for Constable Pct 3

Q: In your role as constable serving eviction notices and divorce papers, sometimes resulting in homelessness for citizens, what skills and resources do you bring to address this?
A: I have only been appointed now for about 8 weeks and haven’t had that issue come up, but certainly willing to help with social services as it helps maybe relocate somebody based on the circumstances. We will do everything to point them in the right direction.

Q: Culture, religious beliefs, mental health, physical disabilities and race all affect what you do in your job. What training have you completed to address these issues and what training do you think should be required of your staff?
A: The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, in a two-year cycle, requires 40 hours of training, which includes some mandated training depending on the certification of the officer. This training includes special investigative topics like cultural diversity and crisis intervention training.

Q: In this age of racial conflict, what is your approach to racial conflicts in your department and in the community? Do you believe implicit bias training should be required of law enforcement officers?
A: There is no place for racial profiling or racial issues whether in the office or out of the office. I have felt this way my entire life. My dad was in the military. I didn’t even understand racism until I was 16 years old when he retired and saw it. No tolerance. I agree with the cultural diversity, civil interactions and some of the other training. It’s very important. This is something I will not tolerate.

Q: Why do you feel you are the most qualified for this job and what are your qualifications?
A: I feel during that time, experience in law enforcement, I was able to develop leadership skills from the bottom all the way to the top. Then serving as sheriff for three terms. I also hold a Master Peace Officer license with close to 8,000 hours of training. I hold a master’s degree in criminal justice from Texas State University. I feel like all of this put together does in fact qualify me to lead this office shall I be elected.

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