Tag Archives: Randall County courts

Potter, Randall courts may produce political drama

Who would have thought that judicial races would fire up so much interest? Not me, that’s for sure.

Potter and Randall counties are set to produce a lively set of election contests in 2018 for seats that usually go virtually unnoticed by the public at large.

Randall County’s Court at Law No. 2 seat is being vacated by Ronnie Walker. Three challengers are running to replace him in the Republican Party primary. These challengers emerged before Walker decided to retire at the end of his current term. Hmm. Interesting, yes?

Potter County’s Courts at Law No. 1 and 2 both are being vacated by incumbents. Corky Roberts is retiring from No. 1; Pam Sirmon is leaving No. 2 … more on that in a moment.

Now we also have 320th District Judge Don Emerson calling it a career. One of the people seeking to replace him in that Potter County court is the aforementioned Judge Sirmon.

I’ve long detested the idea of electing judges on partisan ballots. The state still allows it for the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals — the top appellate courts in Texas. My dislike of partisan judicial elections extends to counties as well.

But that’s what we have. We elect these men and women based on their party affiliation, not necessarily entirely on their judicial competence, their temperament, their knowledge of the law or their judicial philosophy.

This coming year promises to produce a host of new faces replacing familiar faces that have administered justice — for better or worse — in Potter and Randall counties.

It should be a fascinating drama that unfolds.

Plenty of stirring in this Randall County judge contest

A highly unusual political event appears to be shaping up in little ol’ Randall County, Texas.

It involves a trial judge who’s drawn three — count ’em, three — challengers to the seat he has occupied since 2007.

I’ve been watching county-level contests in Texas for more than three decades, first in Beaumont and then here in Amarillo. It’s a rare event when an incumbent judge who’s doing a good job on the bench gets this kind of election-year challenge.

Court at Law No. 2 Judge Ronnie Walker is the man in the hot seat. Three lawyers are running against him. I know one of the legal eagles fairly well, Stewart Werner of Amarillo; I don’t know the other two, Matt Martindale and James Abbott.

All of them are planning to run in the Republican Party primary next spring, which of course is no surprise, given that no Democrat ever runs for anything these days in Randall County — the unofficial capital of the GOP in West Texas.

I won’t pass judgment on any of the candidates — including Judge Walker. I have been out of the game officially for five years now, so my local political radar likely needs some fine-tuning.

What I have witnessed regarding local politics in two disparate regions of Texas over these many years, however, tells me there might be some issues about the incumbent that need some serious examination.