Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton, left, Barton assistant Kara Bishop, center, and Hays County Court at Law No. 1 Judge Anna Martinez Boling, right, at a commissioners court meeting last year. Photo by Sean Batura.
Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle), the Democratic nominee for county judge in November, said he and assistant Kara Bishop laugh about an incident last week in which she threw a cell phone into his face.
However, the episode has become the talk of county county politics as observers speculate about the implications for Barton’s November judicial campaign against former Central Texas Medical Center Chief Surgeon Bert Cobb (R-San Marcos).
Bishop, Barton’s assistant for the last two years in the commissioner’s office, later managed Barton’s Democratic primary victory against Hays County Judge Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley) on March 2. Barton took 56.2 percent of the vote.
Bishop, who is in her early 20s, suffers a rare, serious, physical condition that necessitated her taking leave recently. Barton and Bishop were sitting in former’s car, discussing the possibility of getting Bishop additional treatment, when she threw a cell phone and hit his face. A Kyle Police Department (KPD) report indicates that Barton had suggested that Bishop seek mental health services.
“My wife, my family, a few friends and her parents jointly decided that she needed some additional help,” Barton said. “I think she was glad to get it, (but) was surprised by that suggestion right at first. She said in the police report she didn’t throw her phone at me, nor was she angry at me or anyone. She was very upset in general and kind of threw her cell phone. And unfortunately, I was in her line of fire. We’ve laughed about that together.”
Barton said he has no hard feelings, though his mouth suffered minor injuries from impact of the cell phone throw.
“She has some serious issues she’s going to have to face, but she hasn’t lost her sense of humor about it,” Barton said. “I certainly haven’t lost my sense of humor about it. It’s one of those things that will be funny one of these days. I really want to try and respect her physical and emotional privacy. She’s dealing with some tough issues. I think it’s the decent thing to do. I think it’s what anybody out there would expect for themselves.”
Barton said Bishop is seeking the treatment suggested by her friends and family, adding that the “cell phone incident” has helped her see the wisdom of their advice. Barton said he does not have a campaign manager at the moment, and never planned on having one during the summer.
“Kara Bishop and I have talked since January/February that she might not be able to be campaign manager in the fall because of health issues,” Barton said. “So we have consulted together on possible options, and I’ve consulted, again, for a couple of months, with other advisers about how to fill the gap. Haven’t made any decision on that. I think we’ll just want to wait and see, just interview some folks, see how things develop, see about Ms. Bishop’s health, but also see who else is out there. I’m not looking a campaign manager right this second. Certainly, the campaign continues to go on, but it’s at a slow pace right now, and I’m just not currently looking for someone but we’ll want to pick up soon. I doubt if there is anybody at the county level who has got a full-time campaign manager or a paid campaign manager at this point.”
Barton said that after the cell phone incident, Bishop obtained a first aid kit and helped him tend to his injury. As the Precinct 2 office is co-located with a Hays County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) substation, next door to Kyle City Hall, just down Center Street from KPD’s downtown station and across the street from the Precinct 2 constable’s office, law enforcement was quickly on the scene.
“I’ve had worse injuries from basketball games and touch football all the time,” Barton said. “But it did bleed, because mouths bleed. I stepped outside the car and there happened to be a constable who just drove up, and he saw me bleeding, couldn’t figure out what was going on … I just said I could use two things. One, for him to look after Kara, whose parents were on the way, and if they could give me just a first aid kit to stop the bleeding. To be honest, I was just trying (not) to get blood on my suit, I was just being cheap. And but he couldn’t quite figure out what was going on at first and so put out a dispatch call. People heard it, sent ambulances and additional officers.
“We’re a substation anyways, so officers are always coming in and out of here,” Barton continued. “They heard it and then we had several — kind of like something out of a bad movie, we had several police officers show up. We’re right next to City Hall, we are a substation for the county sheriff’s department, so we had several law enforcement officers respond. I couldn’t say how many, but it was several. Really good of them, really appreciate their efforts, but there was a good deal of absurdity and a good deal of humor, but there really wasn’t much drama involved.”Email | Print