HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – Fentanyl and how to deal with it is top of mind for Hays County leaders. Voters are deciding on who should lead those efforts and other things like managing growth.

There are two candidates vying for that one position. Current Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra and County Commissioner Mark Jones are running for county judge.

“For the community to re-elect me would be so humbling,” Judge Becerra said.

It’s a title Commissioner Jones said he’d love to have.

“That position would be an honor,” Commissioner Jones said.

Fight against Fentanyl

An issue both candidates are prioritizing is the fight against fentanyl. Just in the last few months, four Hays CISD students have died from overdoses.

Becerra said he’d like to get to the root of this drug usage.

“Support a mental health facility that I’m working to build, so that we can understand why someone may want to potentially self medicate,” Becerra said.

Jones said as a commissioner he primarily works with Hays CISD on educating against fentanyl. As judge, he said he’d like to work with the other school districts as well.

“We need to start getting it down to the junior high, maybe even to the fifth and sixth graders and make sure we catch them early enough,” Jones said.

Population growth

With the county continuing to grow, both have plans on how to deal with the areas booming population.

“We’ve got to keep moving it to try to keep up with the growth. But we’ve also got to be able to try to preserve as much as you know, the hometown, the small town atmosphere,” Jones said.

As a former planning and zoning commissioner, Becerra said he’d like to build in a way that bests protects the environment.

“An appealing thing to see higher density, multi-story facilities of all kinds of parking garages, apartment complexes offices, so that we don’t just pave over our beautiful recharge and environmentally sensitive areas,” Becerra said.

Water resources

With more people moving to the county, come concerns of water resources. Jones said the county could collaborate with other municipalities on that issue.

“Municipalities that are, you know, are working on pipelines to get water into Hays County from other areas that have excess water,” Jones said.

Becerra said conservation and preservation is top of his mind.

“Most people love Hays County because of its topography, because of its natural resources. And so it’d be a darn shame to just pave it over and be one smooth blacktop,” Becerra said.

As voters cast their ballots for early voting, the countdown to election day continues. Ultimately, that’s when Jones and Becerra will find out which one of them is the next Hays County judge.