San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 15th, 2008
Names still flying as county nears call on sheriff vacancy


As the Hays County Commissioners prepare to fill their sheriff vacancy as soon as Tuesday’s meeting, differences of opinion have emerged from around the sheriff’s office about how the county should proceed.

Monday, the Austin American-Statesman and both reported, from a release, that the Hays County Law Enforcement Association (HCLEA) has endorsed Captain Bo Kidd, who manages the county’s Buda patrol division.

Earlier Monday, the family of the late Sheriff Allen Bridges, as well as Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-San Marcos), threw their support behind Sherman Brodbeck, who served as Bridges’ top deputy.

Mike Wood, president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Hill Country Lodge, said his organization has not made an endorsement.

Kidd has run the sheriff’s office Buda patrol since the city and county made an agreement to provide dedicated law enforcement for Buda last summer.

“Employees overwhelmingly want the appointment to come from within the ranks of the Sheriff’s Department and while there are other very qualified candidates to fill the vacancy, Captain Bo Kidd is the candidate that offers the best qualifications for bringing long term stability,” Steve Avalos, Hays County Law Enforcement Association president, reportedly said in a statement released Monday.

Meanwhile, Bridges’ widow, Kathy Bridges, said her late husband’s “legacy should continue for the next 24 months, as allowed by law,” in throwing her support behind Brodbeck.

While Conley said he seeks “the most apolitical solution possible” in supporting Brodbeck, the matter remains inevitably political as the commissioners near a decision. As it happens, Bridges  won two the last two elections for sheriff as a Republican, but Democrats fill four of the five seats on the commissioners court, with Conley as the only Republican.

The mill of rumor and speculation has swept up numerous names in the last week, however fleetingly, including sheriff’s office spokesman LeRoy Opiela, recent sheriff candidate Bill Huddelston, former Precinct 4 Constable Debbie Brown and retired Texas Ranger Tommy Ratliff, who is tabbed to replace the retiring Lamont Ramage as Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace in January.

The office has been open since Bridges, 63, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack early on the morning of Dec. 6. Running as a Republican, Bridges defeated Huddelston for a four-year term in November, taking 54.8 percent of the vote.

Bridges became sheriff in September 2005 after long-time Sheriff Don Montague resigned to take a position with Texas State University. In 2006, Bridges won a special election to fill the final two years of Montague’s original term.

The commissioners could appoint replacements both for the sheriff’s term that expires at the end of this month, then for another two years until a new sheriff is chosen in a November 2010 special election.

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