Paul Lilly’s journey to the highest office in Brown County came to an end Tuesday during a New Year’s Day swearing in ceremony.
Randy Lilly, the father of Paul Lilly, held the ceremonial bible as Lilly took his oath of office while 35th District Judge Steve Ellis presided over the event that also included Brown County Commissioner Joel Kelton, Mills County Judge Ed Smith and Brown County Surveyor Don King also taking their oaths of office Tuesday morning.
“It has been a very long road and I’m thrill that my father and family came to see me take the oath to serve the citizens of Brown County and the state,” Lilly said.
Lilly’s journey to Brown County judgeship seemed one of the most difficult in recent memory with Lilly first unseating 26-year county judge Ray West with 54 percent of the vote. Lilly later received an unexpected challenge from Brownwood businessman Steve Friar, who entered as a write-in candidate, but seemed to lose no steam since the primary after crushing Friar with 79 percent of the vote in last November’s general election. Lilly will officially begin his tenure as Brown County judge during Monday’s commissioner’s court meeting and hopes to make progress on some of his campaign initiatives early.
“Experience has taught me that if you’re going to make in major changes to do it at the very beginning, that way everyone is calm and understands. That way people are already relaxed and not as afraid,” Lilly said.
A few of the items Lilly hopes to bring before commissioners plans to establish a court for military veterans - specifically those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and create a better network with local law enforcement to combat drug abuse. While speaking during the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Lunch and Learn in April, Lilly announced retired Shavano Park Police Chief David Creed would become Brown County Chief of Emergency Management and Bob Contreras the Brown County public information officer/grant writer – both newly created positions.
“No major changes, but obviously I will be different than Judge West was. Hopefully no better or worse, I will just be a different type of leader,” Lilly said.
For Kelton, who served on the Brown County Commissioner’s Court for more than a decade, the shift from more than 20 years under West to Lilly will not be easy but he looks forward to seeing what a fresh face can do.
“He has good intentions. It’s going to be interesting. I started under Judge West and that is all I know. It will be interesting so see whatever changes come about,” Kelton said. “It’s going to be interesting. I’ve been here 12 years now and it’s going to be a major change, but there are five of us on the court. Nothing crazy can happen. Maybe he has some new ideas and maybe he wants to go some different ways on some things. We’re all here to work with him and we’ll see how it goes.”
District judge Ellis said at a later date the county will have a separate swearing in ceremony for the following officials: Sam Moss (court-at-law judge), Sharon Ferguson (county clerk), Ann Krpoun (treasurer), Larry Traweek (precinct 4 commissioner), Doug Hurt (precinct 1 justice of the peace), Mike Holder (precinct 2 justice of the peace), Bryan Thompson (precinct 3 justice of the peace) and Jim Cavanaugh (precinct 4 Justice of the peace).