Three express interest in county judge seat
Eyeing 2014 primary are ex-state lawmaker, county commissioner, Democratic chairman.
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.