HOUSTON/HENRY COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — The Houston County District Attorney race is heating up with conviction rates being discussed.

The incumbent, Pat Jones, says that his conviction rate includes guilty pleas, however, his opponent, Russ Goodman, believes the conviction rate should not include guilty pleas because this inflates the actual conviction rate.

The race for the next Houston and Henry County District Attorney pits two men against each other who have both lived in Houston county for the majority of their lives.

Jones has lived in Houston County since 1966 and has served under the previous D.A., Doug Valeska, and has served as the current district attorney since 2016.

“God was leading me to try to run for this position,” Current District Attorney, Pat Jones said. “I was the last person to the race at that point in time, but God favored us and we won in 2016 and I am hoping and believe that we’ll win again.”

Goodman, Jones’ competitor, is currently the Assistant District Attorney for both Coffee and Pike counties.

For three years, he too served under Valeska as a prosecutor.

In addition, Goodman worked with Jones.

“I live in this community, my sister and her family live in this community, my parents live in this community,” A.D.A. Russ Goodman said. “I have been a prosecutor for over 8 years and seeing crime go up and this conviction rate go down. Something has to change.”

One of the biggest differences between the two candidates is how they are deciding the conviction rate percentage.

Jones says his conviction rate is 89% for violent crimes and that is with guilty pleas included in the percentage.

“The defendants see the information and they go over it,” Jones said. “They realize that the evidence is compelling, strong against them and they decide to go ahead to plea guilty and ask for the mercy of the court in most of these situations. It’s only the weaker cases that frequently end up having to trial.”

Goodman says the opposite and believes the conviction rate depends more on jury trials and not guilty pleas.

He claims if you take guilty pleas away from Pat Jones’ conviction rate, you will see a significant change.

“A true and accurate picture at a conviction rate doesn’t include guilty pleas,” Goodman said. “It’s really how you are doing in jury trials and under Pat Jones, his jury trial conviction rate for violent crimes is 40%.”

Both candidates believe that the district attorney’s office could do a better job in communicating with families and making sure they are up to date on cases.

“Keep our community safe and that’s what I am focusing on,” Jones said. “The families, the young people, and the elderly. There is nothing more important than making sure they are protected.”

“The dismal conviction rate of that office,” Goodman said. “Somethings got to change and so we have listened to that. We have listened to the voters and if we made a promise if elected, that we will turn that office around.”

The election will again take place on Tuesday and both candidates encourage voters to research and vote for who they think should be the next Houston and Henry County District Attorney.