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Blog Post: Posted April 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Thank you!

Blog Post: Posted November 5, 2014 at 5:25 pm

“I am deeply honored that the voters have elected me as their next Travis County Judge, and as the first woman Travis County Judge in Texas’ history. Our goals in Travis County are urgent. We must work together build a community that is more just, prosperous and fair. I am excited to get back to work on the issues that affect hardworking Travis County families every single day.”Sarah Eckhardt

The Austin American Statesman Endorses Sarah!

Blog Post: Posted October 23, 2014 at 9:12 am
From the Statesman’s website

Two races for Travis County positions, Travis County judge and Precinct 2 commissioner, might not be getting many headlines for next month’s election, but they are generating a lot of interest. The real competition for these safe Democratic seats happened in the March primary, when Democrats Sarah Eckhardt and Brigid Shea bested their formidable opponents. Unless something unusual happens, the Democrats will win Nov. 4. Those dynamics have shifted the focus from individual campaigns to county government’s relevance and role in tackling the Austin area’s affordability and mobility crises.

Travis County judge

We endorsed Eckhardt, 50, in the March primary for county judge for the seat being vacated by Sam Biscoe. And thus it’s no surprise that she gets our endorsement for the November election.

Biscoe, to his credit, steered the county through tough financial times during his tenure, which spans 17 years. And we appreciate his gracious exit at the end of this year when his term expires, announced more than a year ago. There is something refreshing about a politician who does not overstay his welcome. Eckhardt, with her knowledge of and experience in county government, fiscal sensibility and new ideas for reforming and modernizing county government, is the change county residents need.

Eckhardt served as Precinct 2 county commissioner from 2007 until last year, when she resigned to run for county judge. Among the initiatives she is advancing is performance-based budgeting, which is overdue. Consider that Travis County commissioners recently passed a budget, mostly funded by taxpayer dollars, that’s 122 percent larger than the spending plan adopted in 2000, the American-Statesman’s Andra Lim reported this month. By contrast, the county’s population grew just 32 percent in those years. So far we’ve not heard a plausible explanation for the disparity. And we have concerns that the current practice — in which county commissioners essentially refinance departments and programs automatically — is driving up taxes more rapidly than warranted and keeping programs on the books that should be retired.

We welcome an overhaul of that system, such as Eckhardt is proposing. Under a performance system, programs will be audited for effectiveness and relevance and won’t be refinanced or expanded if they aren’t meeting goals.

Her addition to the Travis County Commissioners Court likely will mean a realignment of the court toward greater discipline on budget matters, and that is a good thing. As commissioner, Eckhardt found herself on the losing side of a vote to award pay raises topping 10.5 percent to Travis County sheriff’s deputies. Certainly, employees should receive pay raises, but those were exorbitant.

Eckhardt has pledged to carry out a measure we’ve pushed to help address the area’s affordability crisis. Before making budget and tax decisions, we’ve called for a joint summit of taxing jurisdictions in which the city of Austin, Austin school district, Austin Community College, Central Health and Travis County collectively examine and address property taxes, bond packages, fees and other financial matters. Currently, each entity drafts its budget and sets its tax rate independently without regard for the total impact on taxpayers or their ability to pay that full load. A joint summit would generate transparency on tax bills and spur changes in dealing with mutual challenges, such as transportation, education, housing and social service needs. Collective planning offers opportunities to reduce duplication of services and leverage economies of scale.

Eckhardt faces Republican Mike McNamara, 67, a technical writer and business development consultant who lost a bid for county judge in 2000, and Libertarian Richard Perkins, 54.

Once Again, Sarah Eckhardt Earns the Endorsement of the Austin Chronicle

Blog Post: Posted October 20, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Once again, Sarah Eckhardt has received the endorsement of the Austin Chronicle a in the race for Travis County Judge — this time for the 2014 November General Election!

From the Austin Chronicle:

After a sometimes bitter primary battle, Eckhardt has begun to mend fences across the county and also look forward to next year’s policy matters. She has, for example, suggested a potential compromise on the city’s dispute with the Travis County Sheriff’s Secure Communities program; it likely won’t satisfy S­-Comm enthusiasts, but it could mean saving money for the city if it moves forward on an alternative booking procedure that would magistrate non­-felony arrests in separate (but not newly constructed) facility. And she has prioritized affordability and environmental issues important to county voters. We’re waiting to see how all this will work in practice in the county’s notoriously hidebound procedures, ­­but as a candidate, Eckhardt is a far better choice than her Republican and Libertarian rivals.

A Proven Environmentalist: Sierra Club Endorses Sarah Eckhardt

Blog Post: Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:55 am

SE_SierraLogoMake no mistake about who the proven environmentalist is in the race for Travis County Judge.

Sierra Club, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization, endorsed Sarah Eckhardt for Travis County Judge.

Sarah Eckhardt has a proven record of protecting and defending the environment:

  • She has led the way to preserve green space and protect our natural heritage all over Travis County, including shepherding the county’s first Land, Water and Transportation Plan, safeguarding sensitive lands in the Balcones Canyonland Preserve from destructive uses, and brokering a three-party agreement with the TXI mine in Webberville to preserve lands along the Colorado River and Gilleland Creek.
  • Sarah has stood firm against polluters and dirty industries, including securing a $3.5 million settlement with developers who illegally fouled Hamilton Pool, combating expansion of the BFI and WMI landfills in Northeast Austin, and preserving our groundwater resources with new stringent subdivision regulations.
  • Sarah has worked to protect our air quality by leading efforts at CAMPO to plan to reduce tailpipe emissions, voting to preserve the state program that helps low-income residents replace their dirty vehicles, and pursuing ways to help reduce county government’s environmental impact and carbon footprint.
  • Learn more about Sarah’s green record on our Issues Page.

    We’re on TV!

    Blog Post: Posted February 25, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Our TV spot is up on the airwaves! Watch it below:


     

    Help us keep it on the air. Each spot costs an average of $130.

    Please contribute what you can to make sure voters can make an informed choice in the Democratic Primary for Travis County Judge.

    Thank you for all of your support!

    “Few Are As Qualified to Serve as Sarah Eckhardt.”

    Blog Post: Posted February 19, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    In case you missed last week’s Austin Chronicle, iconic Austin environmentalist Shudde Fath ran an advertisement specifically endorsing Sarah Eckhardt for Travis County Judge. View it here:

    Yes! Sign me up to block-walk this weekend for Sarah!

    Blog Post: Posted February 19, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    It’s time to spread the word

    Blog Post: Posted February 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Friends and Supporters —

    Early Voting in the Democratic Primary starts Tuesday, February 18, and now is the time that I most need your help to spread the word and let your friends know that I have your support in the race for Travis County Judge.

    My campaign team has prepared the following information to make it easy for you to send along to your friends:

    Please share this link with your networks and help them make an informed decision.

    Corporate interests and political insiders aren’t going to decide this election. You are.

    Thanks for all you’re doing!

    Sincerely,

    Sarah



    About Sarah Eckhardt

    Sarah Eckhardt has 15 years’ experience in public service working for Travis County residents. After 8 years in the County Attorney’s office, she was elected twice to the Commissioners Court representing Precinct 2, where she built up a tremendous record of progressive policy accomplishments:

    • Increased the senior citizen and disabled resident property tax exemption to $70,000
    • Established the Travis County Tax Team to relieve the tax burden on those least able to afford them
    • Negotiated a $3.5 million settlement with polluters of Hamilton Pool, which paid to clean it up
    • Chosen by elected officials across five counties to serve as vice-chair of CAMPO, the regional transportation planning organization
    • Voted to concentrate transportation funding to support existing communities instead of promoting sprawl
    • Advocated for transparent and performance-based budgeting and contract awards
    • Championed a new Travis County Intergovernmental Relations Office to collaborate with local, regional, and state governments to improve efficiency and effectiveness

    Read and learn more about Sarah Eckhardt’s tremendous accomplishments here.


     
    Endorsed by the Statesman, Austin Chronicle, Sierra Club, and More!

    Sarah Eckhardt was endorsed by the Austin American-Statesman, who write that “Sarah Eckhardt is the best person for the job.” Click here to read the full endorsement.

    The Austin Chronicle endorsed Sarah as well, writing that she “has also clearly articulated progressive goals for the whole region on matters like transportation and the environment.”

    Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization, also endorsed Sarah, stating that “Eckhardt promises action on major issues facing this rapidly growing county.”

    The Burnt Orange Report backs Sarah as well, writing thatEckhardt would make the far better Travis County Judge.”

    She has also been endorsed by a broad and diverse coalition of organizations, including the Pflugerville Professional Firefighters Association (IAFF Local 4137), LIUNA Local 753 Laborers’ Union, Mexican American Democrats, Yellow Dog Democrats, Capital Tejano Democrats, and many community leaders across Travis County.  

    These independent voices reaffirm that Sarah Eckhardt is, on the merits, the best choice for Travis County Judge. 


     
    What Does The County Judge Do?

    Travis County Judge isn’t a robe-wearing, gavel-wielding judge. The judge is the chief executive of Travis County government, sets the agenda for the Commissioners Court, and signs every county contract. 

    It’s a big job, and Travis County deserves a county judge with a record of putting our progressive values into practice in local government. 

    To help explain the complexities of the job, our campaign put together an infographic detailing what the county judge does, and contrasting the relative experience of the two candidates:


     
    Sarah Needs Your Vote In the Democratic Primary

    This race will be won or lost in the Democratic Primary. Sarah needs your support to become Travis County’s first female County Judge. Texas has open primaries, so any voter can choose to vote in the Democratic Primary and cast a ballot for Sarah Eckhardt. 

    voteEarly Voting runs Tuesday, February 18 through Friday, February 28th. Click here for a map of locations. 

    Election Day is Tuesday, March 4th. This year, voters can vote at any election day polling location. When you see a sign that says “Vote Here,” vote there! 

    The Photo ID law is in effect, so you will need to bring a state-issued voter ID. Click here for more information. 

    Can we count on your support in the Democratic Primary? Let us know! Click here to pledge to vote for Sarah!

    Sarah Eckhardt is simply the more experienced candidate in the race for Travis County Judge. She needs your help if she’s going to win this close, competitive Democratic Primary. 

     

    Help Spread The Word! 

    Please send this link to fifteen friends or share it on Facebook and make sure people know who the more experienced candidate is in the Democratic Primary for Travis County Judge. You can and will make a difference in this race. 

    Thanks for all of your support!

    Sincerely,
    Team Eckhardt

    The Austin Chronicle Endorses Sarah Eckhardt for Travis County Judge!

    Blog Post: Posted February 17, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Austin Chronicle Endorses Sarah EckhardtThe Austin Chronicle endorses Sarah Eckhardt for Travis County Judge! From their editorial:

    Eckhardt’s greatest strength is that she has been knee-deep in county work for many years, first as an assistant county attorney, and then for six years as Pct. 2 Commissioner, working on all kinds of initiatives to improve quality of life and making the county more “efficient, just, healthy, mobile, and green,” as her campaign material states. She has also clearly articulated progressive goals for the whole region on matters like transportation and the environment, and she’s done good spadework on CAMPO, building regional partnerships where a great deal of time and energy must be spent to make very slow progress.

    An endorsement of Eckhardt is not to disparage her opponent, Andy Brown. There are solid reasons why Brown has garnered the lion’s share of endorsements from Demo­cratic public officials and local political organizations. He has a long history in the local party, beginning as a fieldworker in Travis County campaigns stretching back to Ann Richards (and notably in 2004 as Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s campaign manager). As chair of the county Democratic Party, he helped revitalize a placid operation, and was instrumental in increasing fundraising and turnout, especially in the county’s eastern precincts. That success has carried over to his ability to amass a sizable war chest and to run a smooth campaign with an impressive field operation. His broad support, including visible minority support (his fluency in Spanish is a bonus) reflects that he’s clearly able to win friends and influence people.

    Nevertheless, there are hard questions raised about both Brown’s experience and his insider managerial style. He hasn’t worked at the county itself, and he would take time to understand and use the available levers of action, or evoke cooperation from county staff (and county attorneys) long used to doing things in a fairly unimaginative way. On that score, a commissioner’s seat would have been a better place for Brown to learn the ropes before making a run for county judge. Our sense is that he’s been coming up to speed on current policy issues as the campaign progresses.

    The main criticism we’ve heard against Eckhardt is that she would rather be right on principle than successful in practice, making it difficult to build consensus either among her constituents or on the court. But that’s not an entirely true or fair representation. During her tenure on the court she helped secure a majority vote, if not unanimous support, on several seismic changes in county policy, including stricter groundwater regulations, a more inclusive economic development policy, and a means of improving the county’s lackluster record of awarding contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses. Should she become our next county judge, Eckhardt would do well to temper her leadership style. At the same time, we recognize and applaud Eck­hardt’s abilities as a skilled, tough negotiator who would work in the best interest of the entire county. We believe the current court is often too easily swayed by monied interests, and voters would be wise to elect a county judge with a backbone.