Using words like ‘integrity’ and ‘family values’ in her bid to be elected the next Lamar County Clerk in Texas, Ruth Graves Sisson, above, declared on her campaign website:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:3)
That, apparently, was enough to convince voters that she was the right person to replace openly gay County Clerk Russ Towers – nevermind the fact that she has an extensive criminal record, including 12 misdemeanor theft charges from 1991 to 2006, and police reports contain two separate accusations against her of racial prejudice.
According to this report, in addition to trumpeting “family values” Sisson stood accused of conducting a “whisper campaign” targeting Towers’ sexual orientation.
Said the hunky Towers, above:
I hate to assume what [Sisson] means by ‘family values’, and I hate to feel as though she’s implying that I don’t have any or that being gay is an issue.
I do feel it’s hypocritical given her record. We are all worthy of forgiveness in the eyes of God. However, that does not change your criminal history. One mistake, maybe two mistakes, maybe five are forgivable, but I think it’s a problem when someone has used the courthouse as their collection agency, basically.
Lamar County, with a population of 50,000, is situated 100 northeast of Dallas in conservative East Texas. The 39-year-old Towers, whose family has been in the area for generations, moved to Dallas in 1997 before returning home a decade later.
He spent six years as the county’s elections administrator before being appointed to his current position by the Lamar County Commissioners Court in 2015, after the previous clerk retired.
Sisson recently told The Paris News — which hasn’t reported on her criminal record — that she’s:
Raised a family with strong family values in a Christian environment.
According to Lamar and Hunt County court records, Sisson wrote 44 bad cheques totalling $2,544 from 1990 to 2006. If she becomes county clerk, she would oversee a $500,000 annual budget, and have sole control over trust accounts from contested estates and those with unknown heirs. She’d also be in charge of court records that document her own criminal past.
Sisson has also faced civil suits over bad cheques, including from the Lamar County Appraisal District, records show. Sisson’s landlords filed three separate eviction cases against her between 2000 and 2003 alleging non-payment of rent.
In addition to civil and criminal woes, public records searches on Sisson turned up evidence of possible racism.
In 2010, Sisson’s sister-in-law accused her of making harassing phone calls and using a racial slur, according to Lamar County sheriff’s records. She allegedly called her sister-in-law a “nigger lover” but no charges were filed.
In 2009, Sisson kicked her daughter out of the house before reporting her as a runaway, sheriff’s records show. A woman who worked for Sisson later told deputies she was angry that her daughter had a black boyfriend.
Last July, Towers said he was proud to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v Hodges. But he said ensuing media coverage focused on his sexual orientation may have “soured” some Lamar County residents, especially after bodybuilding photos lifted from his Facebook page were published on national LGBT news sites.
I think there are those who will vote against me simply because I’m gay, and because they don’t know me and don’t know my work ethic. If you evaluate me based on my job history and performance, it’s pretty clear that I am the right person for the job.
I kind of lose faith in humanity that they would hire a thief over me, but what’s done is done. I think it was unfair that nobody highlighted the gay guy for the job he did, and no one wanted to talk about a real issue, which is a person with a lengthy criminal history.
Sisson captured 51 percent of the vote, or 4,694, to Towers’ 49 percent, or 4,509.