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Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Eckhardt, Shea, Gomez win Travis County seats
There were no surprises Tuesday in the elections for the Travis County Commissioners Court. Sarah Eckhardt handily defeated Republican Mike McNamara for County Judge by about a 2-1 margin. In Precinct 2, Brigid Shea defeated Republican Raymond Frank, also by about a 2-1 margin. And in Precinct 4, incumbent Margaret Gomez polled about 85 percent to beat Libertarian Joseph Morse.
Eckhardt is the daughter of longtime U.S. Representative Bob Eckhardt. She’s worked in the Travis County Attorney’s office and served as the Precinct 2 representative to the Travis County Commissioners Court since 2006, before she resigned to run for County Judge.
She won a hard-fought primary victory against former Travis County Democratic Party Chair Andy Brown in March. Since, her election campaign has remained relatively overshadowed by those of the many other candidates for local office and the major bond initiatives.
From July through September, Eckhardt raised just over $46,000 and had loaned her campaign $34,000. As of the eight-day-out reporting period, she had raised an additional $2,185 and had $16,305 on hand.
Eckhardt beat McNamara, who was making his second bid for the Judge’s seat. From July through September, McNamara raised $18,010 but made no loans to his campaign. As of the eight-day-out reporting period, McNamara had raised an additional $4,425 and had just $938 on hand.
Come January, former Austin City Council Member Brigid Shea will join Eckhardt on the court. She beat Frank, a former Travis County sheriff, and Libertarian Steven Haskett. Shea inherits Eckhardt’s former Pct. 2 seat, currently held by former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd, who took over after Eckhardt resigned to run for Judge.
Eckhardt replaces longtime Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, who is retiring at the end of the year.
One item that will almost assuredly come up as the new court takes its place come January is the status of SH45 SW. In March, Pct. 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty was able to muster votes from Todd, Biscoe and Gomez in favor of spending $15 million on construction of the controversial road. Both Eckhardt and Shea have indicated that they are against the project.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
2014 Travis County primary: held March 4, 2014. Notable races decided included Sarah Eckhardt's defeat of Andy Brown for the Democratic nominee for County Judge and Brigid Shea's defeat of Garry Brown and Richard Jung for the Democratic nominee for Commissioner Pct. 1.
SH45SW: A controversial road project that supporters argue would ease traffic traveling through areas of far Southwest Travis and far Southeastern Hays County. Opponents argue that the environmental impact of the effort, which runs close to sensitive land, is not worth that risk. The debate over the issue goes back as far as the mid-1980s.
Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.