Local races continue to develop in March primaries

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Brown County Republican Party

Three-way races have developed in the Republican primary elections for Brown County judge and Precinct 2 county commissioner.

Two-way races have developed for Precinct 4 county commissioner, Precinct 3 justice of the peace and Precinct 4 justice of the peace.

Candidates who have filed or announced their candidacies are:

Brown County judge -- incumbent Paul Lilly, Molly Smith and Shane Britton. Britton, who has not yet filed but announced his candidacy Monday, currently serves as the Brown County attorney.

Precinct 2 county commissioner -- incumbent Joel Kelton, Bo Allen and Jeff Hoskinson.

Precinct 4 county commissioner -- incumbent Larry Traweek and George Huseman.

Precinct 1 justice of the peace -- incumbent Doug Hurt.

Precinct 2 justice of the peace -- incumbent Harold Hogan.

Precinct 3 justice of the peace -- incumbent Bryan Thompson and Brian Edwards.

Precinct 4 justice of the peace -- incumbent Ted Perez and Rusty Howell.

Court-at-Law judge -- incumbent Sam Moss.

County clerk -- incumbent Sharon Ferguson.

County treasurer -- incumbent Ann Krpoun.

County judge's race

Britton, whose current term as county attorney began in January 2021, said announcing his candidacy is an "automatic resignation" as county attorney. Britton said he will remain in office until his successor takes office. Commissioners will call a special election for November, Britton said.

Lilly sees it differently, and he said the agenda for Monday's meeting of the commissioners court will include accepting Britton's resignation and appointing a new county attorney. 

"We have a resign-to-run law," Lilly said. "It says very specifically that any candidate who has more than a year and 30 days left in his office, if he announces for another office that is a paid position, then that constitutes an immediate resignation.

"It is true that the person who is in that office holds over in that office until a qualified successor can be appointed. I've already received three phone calls from attorneys who want to be appointed. Commissioner (Gary) Worley called me and said they may just decide to let Shane stay in office until after the March primary, which is absolutely wholly and entirely inconsistent with what the intent of the resign to law is. Commissioners can't leave Mr. Britton in office because we don't have anyone qualified to do the job. We do have people qualified to do the job. We have people that want the job."

Lilly said he has asked the Texas Attorney General's office for clarification.

"I just told them the situation and asked them to find the case law, because I just want to make sure we have all our T's crossed and our I's dotted," Lilly said. "And the law is very clear -- he has resigned but he stays in office until the commissioners court can find a suitable replacement.

"It's not going to take us till March. We should have a suitable replacement in just a matter of days."

Lilly said he will have several resumes at Monday's commissioners court meeting from attorneys who want to be appointed as county attorney.

"My concern is that we get a competent county attorney in to continue to prosecute cases while he's out campaigning," Lilly said. "I'm concerned that there are some commissioners on the court who have every intent of leaving Mr. Britton in office despite the resign to run law, and they're going to use any intent they can to make that happen. That's  abhorrent to what the resign to run law is and it's abhorrent to the citizens of Brown County. I've asked the state for clarification and that's what I'm waiting on."

Worley said there is no timeline for appointing Britton's successor. Worley said he thinks commissioners will probably call a special election Monday but said it's possible a successor could be appointed prior to an election.

"There's no timeline on us having to appoint someone and we will discuss that Monday in court, I'm sure, and we'll make a decision then," Worley said. "We don't have to appoint anyone. It's not mandatory that we do appoint someone."