By SEAN WARDWELL
Hays County is moving closer to appointing a new Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5, which serves the Buda area.
“It’s going good,” said Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle), whose district takes in Buda. “We had a (search) committee meeting this week, went back through their resumes and got further instructions from the committee.”
Barton said his office has narrowed the field down to eight candidates under consideration, adding that “three or four of those people, the committee is especially interested in.”
This committee, formed by Barton, was designed to avoid the acrimony that surrounded the recent appointment of a new Hays County sheriff, which was necessitated by the death of Allen Bridges on Dec. 6. Following a tortured process, the Hays County commissioners selected Tommy Ratliff, recently retired from the Texas Rangers.
Ratliff had been appointed to start this year as the replacement for Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Lamont Ramage, who wanted to retire. With Ratliff’s appointment as sheriff, Ramage has agreed to postpone his retirement until Barton can find his replacement.
Barton appointed a committee with hopes of finding a name that would inspire support from the Buda community.
“We wanted a thoughtful and deliberative process,” said Kara Bishop, Barton’s chief of staff. “It’s not an official action of the court. It’s just Jeff’s process.”
The committee held two meetings this week while doing extensive background checks of all the applicants. Barton said he wants to have a name ready for the commissioners’ Jan. 27 meeting.
None of the names on the shortlist have been released.
“The committee has been impressed,” Barton said. “I think we’re making good progress towards narrowing the field.”
The committee is made up of former administrative law judge George Cunningham, Buda Councilmember Sandra Tenorio, Niederwald Councilmember Art Braud, Hays CISD teacher Halley Ortiz, county parks advisory chair Jorge Anchondo and social service worker Judy Burns.