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The County Judge is the top executive of the county government, akin to the mayor of a city.
The County Judge presides over and is a voting member of the Commissioners Court (like a city council), which adopts an annual budget, sets the county tax rate, and oversees the general operations of the county. I am not a lawyer, and this is not a requirement for being a County Judge in Texas. Previous County Judges in our county have not been lawyers.
The term “County Judge” is a historical term that reaches back to the beginning of Texas government. At that time, the top elected official in the county was responsible not only for administrative and executive duties, but judicial duties as well. Over time, as the population of some counties grew, those judicial duties were shifted to actual judges with legal credentials.
The work of county government is not glamorous, but it affects your daily life more than anything that happens in Washington, D.C. To use a football analogy, your county government is not the quarterback connecting with the wide receiver for a long touchdown play. It is the blocking and tackling that takes place in the trenches, the necessary work that provides public safety and infrastructure to the local community.
To continue with the sports analogy, a good County Judge is like a good umpire or referee: You know they’re doing a good job when you don’t notice them, when they don’t show up in the news. I will go to work every day to serve you, not to be a celebrity.
What you want in a County Judge is someone with good judgment and intellect, someone with a level head and common sense, who can work with other people, to reach consensus and make difficult decisions for the good of the community. The examples of Judge Doerfler and Judge Gattis, who served quietly and competently from 1991 through 2018, are the ones that I will follow.
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