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Eckhardt, Brown Approach Campaign

Race to replace Travis County judge begins to take shape
Amy Smith, 12:40pm, Wed. May. 1, 2013

UPDATED: At her South Austin family home, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt formally announced her candidacy; meanwhile, Travis County Democratic Party Chair Andy Brown announced his resignation in order to explore "new opportunities."

Standing on the back porch flanked by family and supporters (including former state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos and former Commissioner Karen Huber), Eckhardt, who was introduced by her mother, Nadine Eckhardt, officially declared her candidacy for Travis County judge in the 2014 race to replace longtime incumbent Sam Biscoe, who is retiring. The commissioner credited her mother and father, the late progressive U.S. Congressman Bob Eckhardt, for instilling in their children “a belief that, through courage and hard work, public service makes a real and last difference in people’s lives.”

Indirectly referring to Brown, likely her most formidable opponent in the Democratic primary, Eckhardt said, “Serving as the chief executive and administrator of Travis County and presiding over the Commissioners Court is not a job for beginners.” Citing the fiscal responsibilities of the commissioners court, she said the county needs a leader who can ask hard questions, know when to say no, and be willing to say yes to detractors when they bring a better idea to the table.

Sarah Eckhardt
Photos by John Anderson

With her announcement, Eckhardt must resign from her Pct. 2 seat but she said she’ll remain on the court “for a little while longer” until Biscoe appoints an interim commissioner to serve out her term. According to an email from County Attorney David Escamilla to Eckhardt, his reading of the law is that the incumbent remains in the seat until an interim successor is appointed.

So far the buzz of potential interim reps vying for the seat include former mayor and ex-commissioner Bruce Todd, woman-of-many-hats Tina Bui, who’s served in various roles at the city and Capital Metro; former City Council candidate and activist Margot Clarke, Texas Ethics Commission general counsel Tim Sorrells, and a growing list of others. Word is that Todd is the only one who hasn’t indicated he’s not interested in mounting a campaign to remain on the commissioners court.

And in a letter sent this week to party precinct chairs, Brown announced that he would be stepping down from the party chairmanship, effective May 19. He continued, "As for my future plans, it is no secret that I as I step down from one position, I have been actively exploring new opportunities to more directly engage in shaping public policy. I look forward to sharing those plans with you in more detail in the weeks ahead." Brown has yet to officially announce for the office, but he has been informally gathering support for some time.

Andy Brown
Photos by John Anderson

The 2014 Democratic primary, which in most years effectively decides the Travis County Commissioners Court races, is March 4, 2014. We'll have more on the race later at NewsDesk.

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