The race is on. And for politicians in the 2010 county races, it pays to be a winner.

While filings opened just three days ago, candidate hopefuls are already lining up in the gates, ready to take off for the finish line. Could the monetary rewards of the elected position fuel the campaign fire for several of them?

One incumbent said he believes his salary is the main reason he has drawn an opponent for the first time in his long-winded political career.

The Empire-Tribune researched the final “pay-off” for the 2010 political races, and here is what it found:

Erath County provided a five percent increase for all of its salaried off scale employees in its 2009-10 budget. Employees not off scale were provided the requested salary increases.

The majority of the elected positions open in the 2010 races received an average five percent salary increase in the annual budget. Only one salary decreased for the fiscal year, by a mere $200 for the entire 12-month period.

The county court at law judge position, currently held by Bart McDougal (Republican), decreased from a salary of $64,491 for the 2008-09 budget to $64,246 for 2009-10. However, the judge’s position also receives a state allocated of $75,576, bringing the annual salary to an estimated $139,822.

The justice of the peace positions, both precincts 1,3 and 4 and precinct 2 held by Shawnee Bass (Republican) and Latrelle Cain (Democrat) respectively, increased from $39,028 last year to $40,744 this year. The justices are the only two elected positions in the 2010 race that pay less than $50,000 annually.

County commissioners, both precincts 2 and 4 held by Lynn Tidwell and Randy Lowe, received salary increases of $2,440, bringing their total to $57,949 for 2009-10. County Treasurer Donna Kelly, District Clerk Wanda Pringle and County Clerk Gwinda Jones also tallied up identical salaries to the commissioners for the year.

County Judge Tab Thompson received a salary increase of $2,508 during 2009-10 when his paychecks totaled $59,540 for the year.