Three ex­press in­ter­est in county judge seat

Eye­ing 2014 pri­mary are ex-state law­maker, county com­mis­sioner, Demo­cratic chair­man.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Farzad Mashhood fmash­hood@states­man.com Gon­zalo Bar­ri­en­tos re­tired from state Se­nate in 2007. Andy Brown was elected county Demo­cratic chair­man in 2008. Sarah Eck­hardt is a sec­ondterm county com­mis­sioner. Con­tact Farzad Mashhood at 445-3972.Twit­ter: @f

Gon­zalo Bar­ri­en­tos, a long­time state leg­is­la­tor from Austin, said Thurs­day he is “very se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing” run­ning for county judge in 2014. He’s not alone: a Travis County com­mis­sioner and the party’s lo­cal chair­man have also ex­pressed an in­ter­est in the spot.

Bar­ri­en­tos has kept ac­tive in the lo­cal po­lit­i­cal scene since re­tir­ing in 2007 af­ter more than three decades in pub­lic of­fice, most re­cently work­ing on the win­ning cam­paign to con­vert Austin’s city coun­cil to a sys­tem with 10 district rep­re­sen­ta­tives and a city­wide mayor.

The 71-year-old re­tired state se­na­tor stopped short of say­ing he was sure to run.

How­ever, he said, “I would be say­ing noth­ing to the press or the me­dia if I wasn’t se­ri­ous.”

Com­mis­sioner Sarah Eck­hardt and county Demo­cratic Party chair­man Andy Brown each said in sep­a­rate in­ter­views Thurs­day that they were also con­sid­er­ing run­ning.

Sam Bis­coe, county judge since 1999, said last year he will re­tire at the end of his term and not run for re­elec­tion in 2014.

That prompted Eck­hardt, a com­mis­sioner in her sec­ond term af­ter eight years in the county at­tor­ney’s of­fice, to say at the time she was con­sid­er­ing a run.

“It’s go­ing to take some pretty stout lead­er­ship in the judge spot with Judge Bis­coe re­tir­ing,” Eck­hardt, 47, said on Thurs­day. “I really want the best for the county. I’m try­ing to de­cide who is the best cast­ing for that.”

Brown, 40, was an at­tor­ney be­fore be­ing elected party chair­man in 2008.

He said in a state­ment that he is ex­plor­ing a cam­paign for county judge.

The county judge is the of­fi­cer of the county’s com­mis­sion­ers court, a five-mem­ber body which sets pol­icy for the government whose pow­ers are largely re­stricted by state law.

The salaried judge is elected coun­ty­wide and sets the com­mis­sion­ers’ agenda, among other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

The com­mis­sion­ers court sets the county’s tax rate, over­sees road main­te­nance in un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas and de­ter­mines how tax money is spent on courts, jails and other ser­vices.

If all three Democrats run, they would face off in the May 2014 pri­mary.

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