MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas — Republican Josh Tetens and Democrat Aubrey Robertson are vying to replace the current district attorney, Barry Johnson, in the general election on Nov. 8.
25 News met with both candidates this week as they attempt to sway voters in the final stretches of their campaigns, speaking with them about their backgrounds and goals for the district attorney's office.
Background & Experience
Both Robertson and Tetens are Baylor grads who have spent much of their careers working in McLennan County. Both tout years of experience in criminal law.
Robertson began his career as an assistant district attorney in Harris County. He later returned to McLennan County to work in the district attorney's office, serving as the chief felony prosecutor until he was fired by then-DA Abel Reyna in 2018.
Robertson then began working for a Waco law firm but returned to serve as assistant district attorney to Barry Johnson for a brief, 12-day term.
"I have real problem with the idea of 'we're gonna do it this way because that's the way it's always been done,'" Robertson said. "So I would speak up in meetings and I would try and buck the system because if it's not working, we have to try something else."
Robertson believes his time working in the DA's office and his experience as a prosecutor makes him the ideal candidate for the role.
Tetens has been practicing law as a defense attorney in Waco since 2011.
"I think that it's an advantage in the fact that I have more defense experience than [Robertson] does because I'm able to go through a case and figure out what might be wrong with it," Tetens said.
He received endorsements from the Waco Police Association and McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara during the primary race before defeating republican Barry Johnson.
One major focus of both candidates is catching up on the backlog of cases the district attorney's office is currently facing.
Both Tetens and Robertson voiced frustration at the current state of the office.
"There's people that have been sitting in our county jail for, literally, years. They need to move," Tetens said.
"The people of McLennan County deserve a functioning district attorney's office," Robertson said.
The candidates differ in their ideologies and approach to some recent controversial legal discussions, such as how to handle the new abortion ban in Texas.
Tetens said he plans to carry out the law as is, explaining that it's not the role of the district attorney to act as a legislator.
"From the position of district attorney, you enforce the law. I wouldn't treat it any differently that a drug case, or a violent crime," Tetens said of cases in which a doctor is being charged for performing an abortion.
Robertson disagrees and said he would not prosecute any abortion providers as district attorney.
"The idea that any party would weaponize our district attorney's office only serves to undermine faith in the entire criminal justice system," Robertson said.
Why should you care?
The district attorney is known as a chief law enforcement officer in the county.
Their office decides which cases to pursue and works with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute felony criminal cases on behalf of the state.
The office will handle cases ranging from parking tickets all the way to capital murder cases, with a team of prosecutors working with law enforcement to take cases through trial.
Its efficiency determines how long it takes to bring suspects to trial.
For more information about where and how to vote in McLennan County, visit the election office's website.