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Huber takes office, changes court to all Democratic

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 by Austin Monitor

One of the big local stories from 2008 that could have long-term implications for Travis County was the election of Democrat Karen Huber to succeed Republican Gerald Daugherty as Place 3 County Commissioner.


Huber, who broke with the Republican Party and Daugherty over issues such as the environment, traffic and the role of government in directing growth, will attend her first meeting as a member of the Travis County Commissioners Court today.


Huber defeated two-term incumbent Daugherty in November with 48.5 percent of the vote compared to Daugherty’s 46 percent. Daugherty’s departure means all five members of the Commissioner’s Court are now Democrats.


Democrats have not won all five seats on the court since the election of Valerie Bristol in 1996. Subsequently, the precinct elected Republican Todd Baxter. When Baxter quit the court to run for the legislature in 2001, Judge Sam Biscoe appointed Margaret Moore, a lifelong Democrat and former County Attorney. However, Moore was unable to win the seat when she stood for election against Daugherty in 2002. He was elected without a challenger in 2004, but everything changed in the intervening years.


At the final meeting of the court in 2008, Place 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt told Daugherty, “Although we disagree a lot of the time, where we agree you have been my best ally. And where we disagree, you have taught me more than I could possibly imagine. You’ve made me more broad-minded than I would otherwise be.”  Eckhardt, the daughter of a former Democratic Congressman, added, “You have also made me more liberal, and I will miss you a tremendous amount.”


Place 1 Commissioner Ron Davis also said he had enjoyed working with Daugherty, despite their political differences. “We have had our challenges, we’ve had our moments. We probably had a few shouting moments up here. But there’s one thing I can say about you is that I respect you for your opinion…you’ve always been able to come and shoot straight with me. I knew exactly where Gerald Daugherty was coming from.”


Daugherty said he considered it a privilege to have represented the people of Travis County for the past six years. “Serving, to me, is the most noble thing that anybody can do. Most of the people in this room have heard me say it’s the hardest job I have ever had,” he said. “I admire people that are willing to serve…because what you find is that you really can’t make a decision that somebody is not willing to blast you over. You can make the best decision that you think that you can, only to find out that it’s not good enough for folks. That is the reason that this particular industry is so, so difficult.”


Daugherty also indicated he did not intend to pursue another office. “I’m probably going to try to fade, if I can, into just being one of the everyday folks. The thing that I look forward to the most…is that you don’t have to call me Commissioner. For six years, I’ve not been used to being called something other than Gerald, and I hope that when we see each other after today that it is Gerald. Thank you all for working with me.”


Huber has been a business and management consultant and worked on economic development programs. She also has experience in real estate development and has worked with Scenic Texas and participated in community discussions with the LCRA on growth plans for southwest Travis County.

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