From the Austin American-Statesman | Updated: 1:50 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 | Posted: 7:49 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014

By Andra Lim

American-Statesman Staff

Updated at 1:39 a.m.: Sarah Eckhardt will be Travis County’s first female county judge after handily winning the race with 62 percent of the vote.

Eckhardt, the former Precinct 2 commissioner who stepped down to run for county judge, beat out Republican Mike McNamara (33 percent) and Libertarian Richard Perkins (4 percent).

Democrat Brigid Shea finished with 62 percent of the vote for the Precinct 2 commissioner’s seat, while Precinct 4 Commissioner Margaret Gómez won a sixth term with 83 percent of ballots.

Updated at 12:55 a.m.: Sarah Eckhardt is holding onto her strong lead in the Travis County judge’s race, with 62.18 percent of the vote, according to the latest returns.

Eckhardt, who stepped down as a commissioners last year to run for county judge, is outpacing Republican Mike McNamara (32.97 percent) and Libertarian Richard Perkins (4.85 percent).

Democrat Brigid Shea also has a strong lead in the Commissioners Court seat in Precinct 2 with 62.46 percent of the vote. Republican Raymond Frank has 31.35 percent and Libertarian Steven Haskett has 6.19 percent.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Margaret Gómez, a Democrat, is well on her way to her sixth term with 83.28 percent of the vote, while Libertarian challenger Joseph Morse has 16.72 percent.

Updated at 10:20 p.m.: Sarah Eckhardt has begun celebrating her victory in the Travis County judge race, posting on Facebook that she’s “deeply honored” to continue her work in public service and thanking voters.

Eckhardt will be the first female county judge in Travis.

With 68 of 186 county polling places reporting results, Democrat Eckhardt had almost 51,000 more votes than her closest opponent, Republican Mike McNamara. Eckhardt has picked up 63 percent of the votes counted so far, while McNamara received 33 percent and Libertarian Richard Perkins had 4 percent.

Former Austin City Council member Brigid Shea had 62 percent of the vote, or 30,355 votes, in the Precinct 2 commissioner race.

Precinct 4 commissioner Margaret Gómez, who is running for a sixth term, had 84 percent of the votes counted so far.

Earlier: Former Precinct 2 commissioner Sarah Eckhardt is the decisive front-runner in the race that will determine the first new Travis County judge in 16 years.

Eckhardt, who handily won the Democratic primary in March with a 10-point margin, received 63 percent of early votes, or 88,149 ballots. Republican Mike McNamara picked up 33 percent of the vote, while Libertarian Richard Perkins took 4 percent.

If elected, Eckhardt would be Travis County’s first female county judge.

The county judge, a non-judicial position, chairs the five-member Commissioners Court, which sets the county property tax rate, manages the jails and courts system and maintains parks and roads in unincorporated areas.

County Judge Sam Biscoe, who has been in office since 1999, is retiring at the end of his term. Commissioner Bruce Todd, the former Austin mayor who was appointed to fill Eckhardt’s seat when she vacated it to run for county judge, will also be stepping down.

Former Austin City Council member Brigid Shea, a Democrat, leads the race for that open seat with 62 percent of the early vote, or 24,840 ballots. Republican Raymond Frank, who formerly served as county sheriff, trails with 32 percent of the vote, while Libertarian Steven Haskett received 5 percent.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Margaret Gómez is well on her way to a sixth term. The Democrat is besting her one opponent, Libertarian Joseph Morse, with 85 percent of the early votes.

County treasurer Dolores Ortega Carter, who fended off a serious contender in the Democratic primary, is well ahead of Libertarian Mike Burris with 79 percent of early votes.

In other county races:

  • Democrat Velva Price won 79 percent of the early vote in the district clerk race, and Libertarian Kevin Pick received 21 percent. The winner will succeed District Clerk Amalia Rodríguez-Mendoza, who is retiring after more than two decades in office.
  • Lawyer Todd Wong, a Democrat who’s the sole contestant in the Travis County Court at Law 1 race, will replace soon-to-be-retired Judge David Phillips, who’s been in office since 1988.


Turnout in the two-week early voting period — which usually makes up rough the total turnout in Travis County — was 22 percent.

County officials posted early voting results shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m., and ballots cast today are being counted.


November 4, 2014

7:38 PM

Updated 12:30 p.m. CST

According to final unofficial results, Democrat Sarah Eckhardt has won the race to be the next Travis County Judge.

With 247 of 247 polling locations reporting, Eckhardt took 62.1 percent, or 160,982 votes. Republican Mike McNamara took 33.04 percent, or 85,650 votes. Libertarian Richard Perkins took 4.86 percent, or 12,585 votes.

Unofficial results show that Democrat Brigid Shea has won the race for the Precinct 2 commissioner seat. Shea took 62.22 percent, or 45,553 votes. Republican Raymond Frank took 31.58 percent, or 23,120 votes. Libertarian Steven Haskett took 6.2 percent , or 4,541 votes.

Incumbent Democrat Margaret Gomez was re-elected to another term with 83.28 percent, or 33,965 votes. Libertarian Joseph Morse took 16.72 percent, or 6,818 votes.

Results are unofficial until canvassed.

Updated midnight CST

According to the latest unofficial results, Democrat Sarah Eckhardt appears likely to win the race to be the next Travis County Judge.

As of 11:54 p.m., with 247 of 247 precincts reporting, Eckhardt took 62.27 percent of the vote, or 151,425 votes. Republican Mike McNamara took 32.93 percent of the vote, or 80,064 votes. Libertarian Richard Perkins took 4.8 percent of the vote, or 11,673 votes.

Democrat Brigid Shea appears likely to join her on the dais. Shea took 62.21 percent of the vote, or 40,637 votes. Republican Raymond Frank took 31.72 percent of the vote, or 20,722 votes. Libertarian Steven Haskett took 6.06 percent of the vote, or 3,961 votes.

“I am honored to be a commissioner elect,” She said. “I will work every day [to show] that they made the right decision in voting for me.”

Incumbent Democrat Margaret Gomez was re-elected to another term with 83.21 percent of the vote, or 33,558 votes. Libertarian Joseph Morse took 16.79 percent of the vote, or 6770 votes.

Gomez could not be reached for comment.

Posted 7:25 p.m. CST

According to early voting results, Democrat Sarah Eckhardt is closer to becoming Travis County’s first female judge.

Eckhardt has received 62.93 percent of the vote, or 88,149 votes, according to early voting results. Republican Mike McNamara has received 33.39 percent, or 46,779 votes, and Libertarian Richard Perkins has received 3.68 percent, or 5,157 votes.

Eckhardt may be joined on the dais by Democrat Brigid Shea, who has 62.42 percent, or 24,840 votes, of early votes in the race for the Precinct 2 commissioner seat. Republican Raymond Frank has received 32.48 percent, or 12,923 votes, and Libertarian Steven Haskett has received 5.1 percent, or 2,029 votes.

“I think the voters really responded to the focus that I brought to fixing the broken property tax appraisal system,” Shea said. “I was encouraged at how many [Austin] City Council candidates also picked up the issue.”

Incumbent Democrat Margaret Gomez cruised to an early lead in her race for the Precinct 4 commissioner seat. She has received 84.95 percent, or 18,590 votes. Challenger Joseph Morse, a Libertarian, has received 15.05 percent, or 3,293 votes.

Members of the Commissioners Court serve four-year terms.

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.

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.



Sarah Eckhardt has been endorsed by the Austin American Statesman!

In the Democratic primary race for Travis County judge, voters would be wise to look past popularity to experience. If they do, they will reach the same conclusion we have: Sarah Eckhardt is the best person for the job.

Eckhardt has a tough contest against the affable Andy Brown, who has garnered the lion’s share of endorsements from Democratic organizations. Brown, former chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, has ties to key Democratic officeholders, such as U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and state Sen. Kirk Watson. He has used that network to his advantage, besting Eckhardt in campaign fundraising by more than $100,000. But when it comes to knowledge of county government and the challenges the county faces from rapid growth and urbanization, Eckhardt, former Precinct 2 county commissioner, has the clear advantage.

With the departure of retiring Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, there is for the first time since 1998 a competitive race for this open seat. The job, a four-year term that pays $118,373 annually, is one of five positions on the policy-making Travis County Commissioners Court, where officials decide on everything from building roads outside city limits to setting the county’s annual $857 million budget. Only the county judge is elected at-large by all Travis County voters.

Throughout this campaign, Eckhardt has demonstrated a superior knowledge of a county with a population that now exceeds 1 million. Eckhardt handily discusses Travis County’s challenges in managing diminishing resources, such as water, building infrastructure to accommodate growth and spurring economic development in the county’s blighted and less-affluent areas.

As a commissioner and candidate, Eckhardt, 49, did her homework and has accurately been described as a policy wonk. Those characteristics made her the best prepared commissioner on the court. As such, she helped write county policy for awarding tax rebates to businesses that move to or expand in Travis County. The policy requires construction workers be paid at least $11 an hour. We appreciate that Eckhardt has focused on affordability issues and helped expand the homestead exemption for seniors and people with disabilities. All homeowners receive a 20 percent exemption, but seniors and people with disabilities receive a $70,000 exemption on top of that. On budget matters, Eckhardt has taken a balanced approach. She has supported pay raises for county employees but voted against the outrageous 10.5 percent pay raises three of her colleagues approved for county peace officers.

Brown, by contrast, comes across as a nice guy, but far less prepared about the workings of county government. Brown, 41, has a good idea in establishing a sobriety center in Travis County that would prioritize treatment over jail time for people who are charged with public intoxication. But he has been vague on how to pay for that except to say that the approach would ultimately generate a savings for the county in the way of jail expenses. Brown also wants the county to “keep up with the market” in paying county employees, even, he told us, if it means continually raising property taxes to keep up with the Joneses. That is worrisome. Two commissioners – Margaret Gomez and Ron Davis – have rarely, if ever, met a pay raise they didn’t like, including the one they gave to county peace officers. Brown likely would be a third vote for such political favors. We’re not against pay raises, but they must be balanced against the public’s ability to pay for them.

If elected, Eckhardt would be wise to mend fences with some in the business community who feel alienated by some of her rhetoric. A good county judge seeks to build consensus. Eckhardt should do more of that and use the skills she employed to bring together the county’s 14 autonomous emergency services districts to improve the county’s patchwork system for providing fire and emergency medical services. The limits of that system were on display when the 2011 Labor Day weekend wildfires broke out within hours of one another in Pflugerville, Pedernales Bend and Steiner Ranch. When other county officials gave up on breaking down turf barriers among emergency service districts, Eckhardt rolled up her sleeves and went to work. That too, is how she approaches transportation matters, one of the toughest problems facing county commissioners.

With Biscoe’s departure, the county commission loses a moderating voice that has kept the court from sliding too far left. Biscoe’s institutional knowledge of the county’s many diverse functions, including running a jail, will be missed. Eckhardt is prepared to fill that void.

Remember early voting starts Feb. 18

Sierra Club Endorsement SealInfluential grassroots environmental organization joins other progressives in backing more experienced candidate

The Sierra Club endorsed Democrat Sarah Eckhardt for Travis County Judge, joining the Laborers International Union of North America, Faith Action for Women in Need, Capital Tejano Democrats, and Yeller Dawg Democrats in supporting her campaign. Sierra Club is the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States.

“Eckhardt’s experience with county government—along with her positions on environmental issues—makes her our preferred choice for the County’s top office,” said Sierra Club Vice Chair Roy Waley.

Eckhardt’s father, legendary environmentalist and Democratic Congressman Bob Eckhardt, instilled in her a deep appreciation for our natural beauty and heritage and our responsibility to protect it. As County Commissioner, Eckhardt continued the family legacy of public service by working to protect finite natural resources.

“I was honored to have Sierra Club’s endorsement when I ran for Travis County Commissioner in 2010, and I am just as honored to get their endorsement now,” Eckhardt said. “Sierra Club members are on the front lines of the fight to protect our water, air, and open spaces. I look forward to turning their proud history of activism into public policy that serves all the people of Travis county.”

A Democrat, Sarah Eckhardt is the only candidate in the race for County Judge with a proven record of winning key environmental victories. Sarah worked to complete the Balcones Canyonland Preserve and brought more trails, parks, and open space to Travis County. She opposed allowing more trash to be dumped in eastern Travis County, helped pass tough water quality standards, and held corporate polluters accountable by helping secure a 3.5 million dollar settlement to clean up Hamilton Pool after it had been illegally polluted. As Travis County Judge, Eckhardt will work with Sierra Club and environmentalists to continue protecting Travis County’s natural beauty, finite resources, and heritage.

Sierra Club’s endorsement of Sarah Eckhardt underscores that she is the most qualified and experienced candidate and will best protect our environment and natural resources.

“Eckhardt promises action on major issues facing this rapidly growing county,” continued Waley. “She favors a modernized transportation system for more efficiency with less pollution. She will provide leadership needed to protect our vulnerable water supply. She recognizes the global climate problem is real, and wants county government to help out by purchasing more renewable ‘green’ energy.”

Sarah Eckhardt followed in the footsteps of her father, Congressman Bob Eckhardt, and became a public interest attorney after graduating from The University of Texas School of Law in 1998. Eckhardt has served the public for 15 years. In the County Attorney’s Office, she secured protective orders for domestic violence victims. Eckhardt won a seat on the County Commissioners Court in 2006. She lives in Central Austin with her husband Kurt, who is also an attorney, and her two children, Hank and Nadine. She is an adjunct professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Visit the campaign page on the web at and

 For Immediate Release
Austin, TX – Andy Brown must be feeling the heat after questions were raised about the major support he is receiving from Circuit of the Americas investors, lobbyists and boosters.
Shortly after a media story about the racetrack and Brown came out Friday, COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein was suddenly removed from Brown’s online public supporter list. Epstein had been listed as a supporter for several months, and, like billionaire car dealer Red McCombs, is a major track investor.
“Circuit of the Americas money and support are racing into Andy Brown’s campaign, and now he’s clumsily trying to hide it,” said Nick Hudson, Sarah Eckhardt’s Campaign Manager. “I think it tells voters a lot about Mr. Brown’s ethics and transparency that he dropped Epstein from his list but kept thousands of dollars from COTA backers.”
Brown has received contributions from businesses, lobbyists, and boosters associated with COTA. They include:
  • Armbrust & Brown PAC — COTA’s city hall lobbyist’s lawfirm gave $1,000.
  • Gary Farmer — The major track advocate, host committee member and Republican donor gave $2,500.
  • Carla McDonald — The COTA host committee member gave an in-kind contribution of $5,694.12.
Other Key Facts
  • COTA recently convinced the Commissioners Court to spend millions in tax dollars to build a new road to the track.
  • In a widely distributed letter, COTA’s top investor, Red McCombs, upbraided Commissioner Bruce Todd for suggesting that the money for the road would be better spent on helping flood victims.
  • COTA is suing the Travis Central Appraisal District to lower its property tax valuation, which will in turn reduce its property tax bill.
“Apparently, the COTA backers think Brown will give them what they want, unlike Sarah who opposed millions in tax giveaways to the Formula One track when she served on the Commissioners Court,” Hudson continued. “The track may have Brown, but the people will have Sarah Eckhardt.”


Published online by the Austin Monitor, January 10, 2014

By Mark Richardson

Travis County Judge candidate Sarah Eckhardt continued her verbal campaign against billionaire businessman Red McCombs Thursday, taking him to task for asking taxpayers to contribute millions of dollars to build the Circuit of the Americas race track but going to court to get his property tax bill on the facility lowered.

Eckhardt, a former Pct. 2 Commissioner who is running for the top job in Travis County, issued a statement criticizing McCombs – one of the developers of the Formula 1 race track – for throwing his political and financial weight around to get what he wants.

“Like most billionaires, Red McCombs is used to getting his way,” she wrote. “After handing out big bucks, the big-time car dealer got part of the UT football stadium and the entire business school named after him. And, after getting a huge tax subsidy from Texas taxpayers, he helped convince a majority of the Travis County Commissioners Court (that didn’t include me) to hand over local tax dollars for his Formula 1 racetrack.”

She added: “And McCombs gets really upset when he doesn’t get his way.”

The San Antonio-based McCombs built his wealth through the Red McCombs Automotive Group, a chain of car dealerships, and has also had interests in oil, broadcasting, real estate and sport franchises.

He was most recently in the news for making derogatory comments after University of Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson named Charlie Strong as UT’s new head football coach. However, news reports Thursday said McCombs had talked with Strong, apologized for his comments and offered his full support.

But Eckhardt maintains that McCombs’ influence was evident in the recent vote by Travis County Commissioners to spend some $13 million to essentially extend Kellam Lane from SH 71 to the COTA front gates.

She said that while McCombs’ name was never invoked during debate about the roadway, his influence over the project was felt a couple of weeks later, when McCombs wrote a letter of complaint to Pct. 2 Commissioner Bruce Todd over a suggestion the some of the funds earmarked for roadway be used to help victims of the Halloween flood.

“The public proponents of that proposal maintained all along that it wasn’t for COTA. But, the letter from McCombs to Commissioner Todd blows that cover,” she told the Austin Monitor. “Mr. McCombs cannot insulate himself from criticism on this matter. If you take public money you should have to deal with the public from whom you are taking it.”

She was particularly critical of McCombs for filing lawsuit against the Travis County Appraisal District, claiming the tax bill for his racetrack is too high at roughly the same time he was seeking county funds for a road to COTA.

In response to Eckhardt’s comments Thursday, Andy Brown, her opponent in the Democratic Primary, said that unlike Eckhardt, he has a plan to bring ethics reform to Travis County.

“The truth is, I’m the only candidate in this race who is actually proposing to do something about the problem – ethics reform – meaning establishing a Travis County Ethics Commission and requiring lobbyists to register and report who they represent,” he said. “We also need campaign finance reports that are indexed and searchable online. Only then can we have true transparency at the county level. We don’t need demagoguery, we need reform and action.”

He did, however, compliment Eckhardt for her efforts to fight corporate influence in county politics.

Eckhardt has criticized McCombs and his influence in the past, issuing an open letter to him in November seeking a one-on-one meeting with him to discuss issues surrounding COTA. However, she was turned down by one of his executives.

“I thought long and hard and decided I needed to speak truth to power when McCombs takes so much from the taxpayers and then tries to skate on his own taxes. And, given his refusal to speak to me one-on-one, this was my only avenue of communication with him.”

The Austin Monitor made several attempts Thursday to contact McCombs about this article but did not receive a reply.

Brown and Eckhardt Make Some Distinctions
What’s the difference between the Dem Travis County Judge candidates? It all comes down to personality.
BY AMY SMITH, FRI., DEC. 13, 2013

As progressive Democrats, Andy Brown and Sarah Eckhardt agree on nearly every major issue facing the community – they both oppose the construction of State High­way 45, they endorse the Lone Star Rail project and other multimodal transit options, and they support long-term water management plans. But at a candidate forum Monday night, the two Travis Coun­ty Judge candidates did manage to differentiate themselves from each other in one key area: personality.

On that score, if Brown came across as Mr. Affable – joking with moderator Joy Diaz and demonstrating his Spanish-language finesse – then Eckhardt left her mark as Ms. Moxie – someone who won’t “fade in the heat or run from powerful interests.”

The forum, co-sponsored by In Fact Daily (soon to be rebranded as the Austin Monitor) and KUT, was the first public opportunity the challengers had to lay out their platforms outside the special-interest clubs that candidates routinely attend in seeking their endorsements. The crowd at the North Door also heard from the three Dem candidates vying for the Precinct 2 seat on the Commissioners Court – Garry Brown, Richard Jung, and Brigid Shea (see Newsdesk online for debate coverage, and look for more reporting in next week’s Chronicle).

In the competition to succeed retiring County Judge Sam Biscoe, Brown, who most recently chaired the Travis County Democratic Party, argued that he was the best candidate for the job based on his record as a uniter and consensus-builder. “I have 20 years of experience of bringing people together to stand up for progressive causes and getting things done,” he noted several times throughout the evening. During his tenure leading the local party, Brown said he raised “more money than ever before” and increased minority turnout by 18% in 21 East Austin precincts. Brown also distinguished his candidacy with calls for more transparency at the county with the creation of an ethics commission and the requirement that lobbyists register, as they do at the city level. Brown also vowed to re-evaluate and reorganize an archaic county government system that hasn’t seen any significant structural changes since 1994.

Eckhardt, who left her County Commis­sion Precinct 2 seat in May to run for judge, hammered home her record as a public servant and took several opportunities to tout her campaign slogan of “experience, courage, and heart.” She recounted her days working in the trenches of domestic violence cases as an assistant county attorney and then continuing her advocacy when she arrived on the Commissioners Court in 2006. Once seated, she worked to lower taxes for seniors and defend the reproductive and health care rights of women; she helped secure a $3.5 million settlement from developers whose construction project polluted the popular Hamilton Pool swimming hole in western Travis County, and championed fair wages for workers. She said she also made some tough – albeit not always popular – decisions on how county tax dollars were spent, saying no to tax giveaways to large corporations, and voting against the higher of two salary-hike proposals for sheriff’s deputies.

“[The job of] Travis County judge is not an entry-level position and it’s not a political stepping stone,” she said. “When you’re Travis County judge it’s easy to bring people together – you call a meeting. The question is what do you get done and who do you get it done for?”

Eckhardt’s tone reflected the tensions that rose between the campaigns last week as the two candidates vied for key endorsements from labor groups. As Michael King wrote for Newsdesk on Dec. 7, the endorsement fireworks began the evening of Dec. 5 at the candidate screening held by AFSCME Local 1624. The local had gotten crossways with Eckhardt, over its early decision to support Brown without a public screening of both candidates. Local 1624, which represents 2,500 city and county employees, does not endorse directly – the decision is made by the board of its PEOPLE political action committee, which collects funds from politically active union members willing to contribute. The PAC makes recommendations to the Cen­tral Labor Council, which, after hearing from candidates in its Dec. 7 session, announced its endorsement of Brown.

For Immediate Release

December 10, 2013
Contact:  Nick Hudson
Cell: 512-693-8683

Sarah Eckhardt Wins Debate Decisively

“The difference is clear”

Sarah Eckhardt, a Democrat running for Travis County Judge, was the clear winner of Monday night’s major KUT and In Fact Daily debate at The North Door with her single opponent, Andy Brown.

“The difference is clear,” said Nick Hudson, Sarah Eckhardt’s Campaign Manager, “Sarah won the debate decisively and controlled the discussion. She showed us that she is the only candidate with the experience and command of issues prepared to protect the environment and stand up for working people as our Travis County Judge.”

During her tenure as a Commissioner representing Precinct 2, Eckhardt held polluters accountable, opposed tax giveaways to Formula 1 and Apple, and fought for access to full spectrum reproductive services for women. If elected, she will be the first-ever female Travis County Judge.

“In his first debate with Sarah, Andy Brown’s lack of knowledge and command of the issues was plainly obvious. He is wholly unprepared for the job that he seeks,” said Nick Hudson. “While Mr. Brown was doing things like cracking jokes to eat up time on the clock, Sarah Eckhardt was answering questions directly, connecting her experience to our community values, and speaking with the gravitas and maturity that befits the position.”

Sarah Eckhardt thanked the organizers of the debate. “I’m grateful to the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, In Fact Daily, and KUT News for hosting this first-of-its-kind discussion about the issues that impact Travis County voters. We had a lively discussion about the issues that impact our friends and neighbors, including environmental protection, land use authority, and transportation.”

Sarah Eckhardt followed in the footsteps of her father, Congressman Bob Eckhardt, and became a public interest attorney after graduating from The University of Texas School of Law in 1998. Eckhardt has served the public for 15 years. In the County Attorney’s Office, she secured protective orders for domestic violence victims. Eckhardt won a seat on the County Commissioners Court in 2006. She lives in Central Austin with her husband Kurt, who is also an attorney, and her two children, Hank and Nadine. She is an adjunct professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Visit the campaign page on the web at and