New generation of leaders on the job in Panola County

Cutter Clinton sworn in as sheriff; Rodger McLane sworn in as county judge
New generation of leaders in Panola County
New generation of leaders in Panola County(Blake Holland/KLTV)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 7:07 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:32 PM CST
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CARTHAGE, Texas (KLTV) - There’s a new generation of leaders on the job in Panola County.

Sheriff Cutter Clinton, 31, and County Judge Rodger McLane, 31, are now considered Panola County’s two most powerful elected officials.

“First and foremost, I want to take care of my people here in Panola County,” said Clinton.

And Sheriff Clinton knows many of those people personally. The Panola County native started his law enforcement career at the Panola County Sheriff’s Office before going to work for the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office.

“Being a younger man and being zealous and very ambitious, I was drawn to go and work in South Texas,” Clinton said. “I wanted to experience the interdiction element and the issues that the border region faces. I felt that’s where I was led to go and so I went.”

Clinton and his wife returned to Panola County in recent years to live on the family farm as he worked for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, before deciding to run for Panola County sheriff at the age of 30.

“That was actually one pause I had in making a determination if I should run for sheriff or not,” he said.

But Clinton, who is now 31, gained confidence by talking with other county leaders.

“I spoke with a lot of people in our community that I find to be wise. Our district attorney, Danny Buck Davidson, was elected office while he was in his 20s. Kevin Jones, who was a district attorney’s investigator, was the chief deputy of this office when he was 28-years-old,” Clinton said.

Joining Clinton as the county’s other new young leader is County Judge Rodger McLane.

“I’ve lived here my entire life,” McLane said. “I have long historical roots in the county. One of my ancestors was the third man to settle in the county. His son, another ancestor, was the first man to receive a marriage license here in Panola County.”

McLane worked for the county’s newspaper and radio station before going to law school and coming back home to practice law.

“It takes a lot of wisdom and discernment to have a small-town practice,” McLane said.

McLane said he isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel when it comes to county government and looks forward to learning from leaders he already respects.

“We have a lot of great things here. We have room for improvement, but we’re aware of that and working on it every day.”