Les Cotten - Navarro County Sheriff
Cotten seeking fifth term as
From Staff Reports
Sheriff Les Cotten will seek his fifth term in office, having filed with the
Democratic Party to run in its March 4 primary.
Cotten was born in Corsicana and attended public schools in Powell and Kerens.
He graduated from Kerens High School in 1960. He attended Navarro Junior
College, graduating in 1974 with an associates degree in Law Enforcement. He
attended Baylor University from 1975 to 1978.
The sheriff served seven and a half years in the U.S. Army, from 1960 to 1967.
He was in the 101st Airborne Division, 36th Infantry Division Texas National
Guard, 1st Armored Division, and the 25th Infantry Division. He served with the
25th Infantry Division in Pleiku, Republic of Vietnam.
He was employed with the Corsicana Police Department in December 1967, beginning
as a dispatcher. Cotten moved to the patrol division in February 1968 as a
patrolman. In March 1975, he moved into the criminal investigation division as
Cotten was hired by Sheriff Bobby Ross in October 1982 as a detective sergeant.
He was promoted to lieutenant in October 1991 by Sheriff Jim Hodge. Cotten ran
for his first term in office in 1992 and was elected by Navarro County
residents. He took office Jan. 1, 1993 and has served as sheriff since.
He has been married to his wife Cleta for 39 years. The couple has three
children — Les Jr., Lea, and Lori. His son-in-law is Kraig Hawkins. The Cottens
have four grandchildren: Hunter, Heath, Cole and Haleigh.
The sheriff is a member of the Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, VFW, DAV, Navarro
County Peace Officers Association, Sheriff’s Association of Texas, National
Sheriff’s Association, Life Member of the National Rifle Association, Corsicana
100 Club and the Kerens Area Chamber of Commerce.
He’s a Master Mason, Corsicana Lodge AF&AM No. 174, and a member of Pettys
Chapel Baptist Church.
“I am a career law enforcement officer dedicated to serving the citizens of
Navarro County,” Cotten said. “I would like to continue serving the citizens of
Navarro County and ask for your vote and support.”
1/3/2004 Cotten seeks sixth
From Staff Reports
Sheriff Les Cotten will seek a sixth term.
has filed to run on the Democratic ticket in the March primaries. He won
election to the office in 1992, and has held it ever since.
"I am a career law enforcement officer, dedicated to
serving the citizens of Navarro County as sheriff," Cotten said in a release. "I
promise to do my best to do the job you have elected me to do.
"I want to continue the fight against the drug problem
in Navarro County and all other crimes committed in our county. We can never
slow down in the fight against crime."
Cotten, 61, was born in Corsicana and attended Powell
and Kerens schools, graduating from Kerens High in
1960. He attended Baylor from
1974 to '77. He served in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division and the 25th
Infantry Division from 1960 to '67, serving in Vietnam in 1966.
He was employed by the Corsicana Police Department in
1967 as a dispatcher, and took a patrol position in '68. In 1975 he became a
In October of 1982 Cotten joined the sheriff's
department as a detective sergeant. He was promoted to lieutenant in May of
He is a member of the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, Navarro
County Peace Officers Association, Historical Society, Texas Sheriffs
Association, National Sheriffs Association, DAV, VFW, National Rifle Association
and Kerens Chamber of Commerce.
He and wife Cleta have three children and four
"Navarro County has a good sheriff's department,
dedicated to serving the citizens and I am proud of the officer of my department
and the jobs they do," he said. "I want to continue serving the citizens of
Navarro County and ask for your support and vote."
2/28/2004 - Peace officer started on farm
Cotten started his work career on the farm and then went on to bagging
groceries. He later joined the Army. Daily Sun photo/SCOTT HONEA
By JOAN SHERROUSE/Daily Sun Staff
Like many local residents, he started out working on the farm, then went on to
sack groceries for 50 cents an hour -- $5 a day.
When it came time to sign up for college, however, he had a last-minute change
"In January 1961, I went to Navarro Junior College, and I grabbed hold of the
main door -- ready to register for school," said this respected member of the
community. "But I said I am not ready for this, and I'm going to go jump out of
The Army recruiter was his next stop, followed by a three-year hitch in the
101st Airborne in Kentucky.
"The first airplane I ever rode in, I had to jump out of it," he said. "I took
off in eight airplanes before I ever got to land in one.
"I was more scared of landing in one than I was jumping out of it."
He ended up spending 7 1/2 years in the Army -- including one in Vietnam -- when
his discharge papers came through in August 1967, a month after his father's
At home, he found the cotton crop ready for harvest and cattle to take care of,
so he rolled up his sleeves and set out to help his mother.
"I got all the cotton out, cleaned up the equipment and we had a sale," said
Navarro County Sheriff Les Cotten.
Jobless, he had made up his mind to go back into the service when a friend put a
bug in his ear about the Corsicana Police Department.
"It's kind of like being in the Army," his buddy cajoled. "You get to wear a
uniform and carry a gun."
Cotten admitted a few passing thoughts in high school about the Highway Patrol
was the only "background" he brought to police work, but all it took was a high
school diploma or a GED back then.
"I was hired on the 16th of December in 1967 as a dispatcher, and I went to work
at midnight," he said. "One of the other dispatchers trained me for a week, and
after that I was on my own."
He said the work wasn't that hard, though. The county's single teletype machine
was easy to operate, and there were only two radio frequencies. Then, there were
only a couple of constables and a game warden along with a few sheriff's
deputies and CPD.
"I think there were 15 officers in the police department and six or seven
highway patrol," he said.
When he went on patrol in February 1968, he said he rode with his sergeant three
nights and fellow officer Bobby Owens for four, then he was on his own.
Formal training was still four years away, so he learned as he went along.
"I had a .357 pistol I bought in December 1967, and on Nov. 22, 1968, I had to
stop a man on the Interstate for running people off the road," Cotten said.
"When I opened the door, the man pulled a pistol on me and I had to shoot him."
Through it all, he said responsibility stands out as a major factor in his life
-- on the farm, in Burney Bobkoff's grocery store, in the military and later, in
"In the Army, most of the time I was a sergeant, so I had people under me to be
responsible for," he said. "After I got involved in law enforcement, there was a
big responsibility as far as the safety and welfare of the citizens."
He said there are no major changes he would make in his career if he had it to
do over again, except for the year and a half when he left law enforcement to
work in a friends cattle and construction business.
"I hated every minute of it," Cotten said. "I enjoyed the job, but felt like I
was missing something that was in my blood."
Joan Sherrouse may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]
Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun
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