Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt presided over her last Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday.
Travis County’s top executive and first female county judge announced plans to resign in March when she launched her campaign to replace retiring Texas Senator Kirk Watson, a 13-year veteran of the chamber and former mayor of Austin.
On Tuesday, Eckhardt swore in her replacement, former Travis County Judge Sam Briscoe, marking Briscoe’s return to public service after retiring from the county judge position in 2015.
Prior to being elected County Judge in 2014, Eckhardt had served on the Commissioner’s Court representing Precinct Two. As judge, she built her reputation as a progressive executive and fierce opponent of Gov. Greg Abbott.
Most recently, she has tussled with the governor and indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton over the county’s stay-at-home order.
Eckhardt now enters a state Senate race where she’ll try to replicate her 2014 success and become one of the most prominent women elected to the chamber in recent memory. Currently, only nine women serve in the Texas Senate. Eckhardt would become the third Democratic woman in the chamber, potentially joining Senators Judith Zaffirini and Beverly Powell.
In March, State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), the longest serving member of the Travis County delegation to the Texas House, also announced his bid for the vacating Texas Senate seat. Progressive firebrand and Austin City Council member Greg Casar – no stranger to conflict with Governor Abbott himself- announced last week he won’t seek this open seat, deciding instead to focus on his work representing his district during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the weeks ahead, Texas Signal will profile the candidates for Travis County Judge and Senate District 14. Stay tuned.