Pamela McGraw announces her intention to seek the Democrat nomination for the Grayson County District Attorney. McGraw’s roots in the Democrat Party run deep, having attended her first Grayson County Democratic Convention with her grandmother, Jack Frost McGraw, back in 1974. At that time Grayson County was primarily considered a Democratic community but over the years the county has slowly become more conservative. Now, however, due in part, to the results of the 2016 election, there has been a resurgence of excitement and activity in both our local and state Democrat Party. McGraw has witnessed that resurgence and is proud to announce her decision to run as a Democrat and to provide the citizens of Grayson County a real choice for a change.
Not only are McGraw’s ties to the Democratic Party deeply rooted, her family has long-time roots within the law enforcement community here in Grayson County. Her family has served this community proudly in positions dating back to the nineteenth century, beginning with her great-great grandfather, Sam McAfee, who served as the Chief of Police for the City of Sherman and his brother, Lee McAfee, who was the Grayson County Sheriff in 1910.
McGraw’s great-grandmother, Callie McAfee Frost, was the first social worker in Grayson County. The Callie Clinic in Sherman is named in her honor. In fact, Callie Frost, herself a trailblazer for women’s rights, was the very first woman to ever register to vote in the State of Texas, even before women were actually permitted to vote. For her courage, she was bestowed the Susan B. Anthony Award. Now, in keeping with her family’s legacy, McGraw seeks to also serve our community as the next Grayson County District Attorney.
This position was vacated following Joe Brown’s resignation that takes effect next Friday. The special election to replace Brown is on November 6, 2018. It is the executive committee of both parties, however, that selects the candidate to represent the party on this November ballot. That selection must be certified by the Party Chair and submitted to the Secretary of State before 5:00 p.m. on August 27, 2018. The Grayson County Commissioner’s Court is responsible for selecting the individual that will fill this position until the election in November.
McGraw, an experienced attorney, began her legal journey after graduating from the University of Texas School of Law in 1993. She remained in Austin for a while representing cities and their employees all across Texas as a lawyer for the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool. Her first cert. petition to the United States Supreme Court was granted in Atwater vs. City of Lago Vista. She returned to Grayson County, her home base, in 2001 where she has remained, practicing proudly as a solo criminal defense attorney, charged with the duty of ensuring that all Grayson County residents’ constitutional rights are protected.
“It is disheartening when I hear candidates disparage defense attorneys,” McGraw explains, “because it is a noble profession. There is no justice without the provision of a defense. It is the fundamental premise of our constitution.” Over the last several years, having been daily involved in our local criminal justice system, McGraw has witnessed a derogation of justice. A prosecutor’s primary duty is not to prosecute, but to see that justice is done. It has become clear that the Grayson County District Attorney’s office is in dire need of change, change that will ensure that its employees at all times, respect our laws, the Constitution and the citizens of this County, regardless of whether a citizen is charged with a criminal offense.
When asked about her approach toward the punitive components of this office, McGraw explained that she intends to mirror the approach taken by the Honorable Judge Brian Gary in the 397th District Court, who she refers to as the “fix-it” judge because of his tendency to seek solutions that have the best interest of the community in mind. Judge Gary, while tough on crime, is focused on solutions that make this county a stronger and healthier community. For example, when placing a defendant on community supervision he will inquire about the circumstances of their life and will impose specific conditions that address those circumstances so as to best insure that this individual can and does become a productive member of society. Sometimes this requires consideration of recovery solutions and educational programs that are not typically required of Grayson County criminal defendants.
McGraw realizes that we are all being impacted by substance abuse issues. Our families and our community are constantly touched and effected by drug abuse and addiction. Many of the property and violent crimes committed in our community are a product of substance abuse. One of our local deputies once likened drug crimes to ant hills: “You get rid of it in one place only to have it pop back up somewhere else.” Statistics show that simply imprisoning drug offenders does not solve the problem of the drugs on our streets. We must address the issue of addiction.
If elected, McGraw will treat drug crimes as a public health issue except when it involves organized criminal activity. Many Grayson County residents would be surprised to learn of the extent to which prison gangs operate on our streets. Texas prisons are packed with inmates that can not survive without the assistance of people on the outside sending them money. First-time offenders who are sentenced to short prison sentences are extremely valuable to the long-term inmates inside the prison walls. The prison gangs will often times create the danger for which they provide the protection in order to tag the person as a gang member before they are released to return to the streets of Grayson County.
McGraw intends to prosecute these gang members for the crimes committed on our streets at their direction and encouragement. This will require that there be a pathway out of the gangs for anyone ready to work in a regimented rehabilitative program to turn the direction of their life around to become a productive member of society. Unfortunately the current policy at the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office in handling the prosecution of crimes in this community has perpetuated the cycle of crime and drug addiction and has done very little to make our community safer, stronger, and healthier.
It is time for a change. We can do so much better. McGraw believes the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office can and must do better. It is time to elect a Democrat to this office. This time is now. She invites the citizens of Grayson County to take a leap of faith and elect a Democrat and a woman to be the next district attorney in Grayson County.
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For too long the Grayson County DA’s Office has been driven by a win-at-any-cost culture that prioritizes high conviction rates and harsh sentencing over more effective approaches that are proven to reduce crime. As District Attorney, I will fundamentally change that culture from a culture of seeking victory for prosecutors to a culture of seeking justice for victims.
My office will focus on Building a stronger healthier community by:
• treating drug crimes as a public health issue
• with a clear focus on organized criminal activity
• ending the counter-productive “snitching program”
• resisting over criminalizing
This requires a focus on the Integrity of the Criminal Justice System by:
• promoting diversity in the office
• demanding professionalism from every ADA;
• bringing police and communities together
• focus on transparency and fairness in determining the truth.
My family roots in Grayson County are seven generations deep. My great great grandfather, Sam McAfee, was the Chief of Police for the City of Sherman and his brother, Lee McAfee, was the Sheriff of Grayson County in the late 1800s. While the men in my family worked in law enforcement, the women were actually the real leaders. My great grandmother, Callie McAfee Frost, was the first female to register to vote in the State of Texas. She was honored with the Susan B. Anthony award for her courageous stances for women’s rights.
I am currently a criminal defense attorney in Grayson County, Texas. I graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1993. I am the Treasurer for the Grayson County N.A.A.C.P. and Vice President of Democratic Women of Grayson County.