by BRAD ROLLINS
Four years ago as Democrats surged nationally, Hays County voters switched overnight from a Commissioners Court with four Republicans and one Democrat to a court with four Democrats and one Republican.
On Tuesday, they switched back as a GOP headwind blew through the nation, state and county.
San Marcos physician Bert Cobb, the Republican nominee for county judge, comfortably beat Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton while Kyle Republican Mark Jones overwhelmed Kyle Democrat Ray Bryant to succeed Barton. Pct. 4 Commissioner Karen Ford, a Democrat, lost by an even larger margin to Ray Whisenant.
“I’m kind of punch drunk, quite frankly,” Cobb said. “It’s been a long year.”
The county judge’s race was one of the most spirited on the ballot with the contenders exchanging jabs over water, planning and the authorship of thousands of e-mails critical of Barton. Cobb, who broke a vertebrae in his back playing racquetball, had limited mobility for much of the campaign’s final stretch.
Cobb said restoring government to its rightful role would guide his administration.
“We need to get back to what county governments were instituted for – law enforcement, transportation and preserving the quality of life of its citizens,” Cobb said. “I set a goal when I started my campaigning of trying to get the people involved in their government. I think that has been accomplished and now I want to continue that.”
Barton became the Democratic Party nominee after beating County Judge Elizabeth Sumter in an intra-party fight that reverberated through the general election. During his concession speech, Barton said he would work with Cobb during the transition to ease the transfer of power.
“It’s really important to remember in times like this that there is a lot more that unites us than divides us,” Barton said. “We’re still going to be fine. We’re still going to be a a growing and great community. We are all going to find ways to plug in and help them be successful in managing our county and looking forward to the future.”
Jones, who was born in the Buda area, acknowledged the role of national trends in his victory but said his roots in the community contributed to his margin.
“I think [national trends] had a lot to do with it,” Jones said. “But I do feel like even without that, given my history with Hays County, I had a lot of crossover support.”
He predicted lean times ahead for county finances.
Said Jones, “There’s a big possibility that we’re not going to have any new money next year. If we want to keep the tax rate the same we’re going to have to make some tough decisions.”Email | Print