The Austin Chronicle

Serious Concerns About County Judge Race

RECEIVED Sun., Jan. 19, 2014

Dear Editor,
    Multiple successful managerial styles exist but in the Travis County judge's race, operational knowledge, experience, and networks in county government will be the ultimate determinate of the successful officeholder [“Brown and Eckhardt Face Off in Circle C,” Newsdesk, Jan. 14]. The county judge is a position comparable to the city manager and the mayor (administration and policy) all rolled into one. Unlike the city's mayor, good leadership will result not only from effective style, but also the relative experience in county management and governance. It isn't an elected office appropriate for the inexperienced politician.
    Andy Brown and many of those supporting and endorsing him have two things to consider: 1) Is it possible you don't know "what you don't know" about the office of county judge? 2) Is there a serious movement afoot to put someone in that office who can be "managed" by more powerful "others"? And on the last question, speaking as one who knows, I note that Andy Brown's most recent campaign finance report looks a lot like Gerald Daugherty's – heavy in real estate and engineering dollars and, equally concerning for the Democrats, heavy in Republican leadership dollars. Is there a long-term strategy in this notable support by the "other" party leaders? Would a weak and poorly performing Democratic county judge give opportunity for the Republicans to 1) allow the partisan interests better chance to "manage" that inexperience, and/or 2) set the foundation for a successful Republican bid for judge in the future?
    The Democratic machine had better be careful of that for which it wishes. The county judge's powers are complex and seriously misunderstood by most voters, yet this is probably one of the most important locally elected positions because of its potential to influence/impact – positively or negatively – local taxes, social services, public safety, and infrastructure. Voters should be analytical about this race and pay serious attention to the candidates' relative qualifications, not the superficial hype and endorsements.
Karen Huber
Former Pct. 3 Commissioner

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