Taking Over The Reins: New Political Landscape In Brewster, Jeff Davis & Presidio

Judges and politicians across the country and Texas have been sworn in following the holiday break. In Presidio County, a large crowd witnessed inaugurations that included the first female Mexican-American judge in county history.

The swearing-in ceremony in Presidio County began with a nod to the region’s Mexican-American culture.

Mariachis from Presidio and Ojinaga led by Presidio Mayor John Ferguson serenaded well-wishers, politicians and newly-elected office holders in a packed county courtroom in Marfa.

Marfa Mayor and Municipal Judge Dan Dunlap administered the oath of office to Cinderella Guevara. Also taking office:

Frances Garcia, Treasurer, Loretto Vasquez, County Commissioner, Precinct 4, David Beebe Justice of the Peace, north county, south county Justice of the Peace Juanita Bishop, County/District Clerk Virginia “Virgie” Pallarez and  County Commissioner Eloy Aranda. Aranda and Bishop were re-elected to another term.

Judge Guevara succeeds Democrat Paul Hunt. She credits Hunt for two initiatives; working to promote expanded trade with Mexico through rail and road bridge projects at Presidio and taking steps to mend the county’s broken finances.

“We plan to continue with the work that Judge Hunt had implemented,” Guevara told Marfa Public Radio. She said that Hunt had taken important steps to correct longstanding systemic deficiencies in the county’s accounting practices.

“(We) will take a closer look at the budget that was adopted,” she continued, ” (and) see how we can be more transparent with internal control of finances in the courthouse.”

Here’s the context to the county’s financial concerns;

In April 2014, 394th State Judicial District Court Judge Roy Ferguson appointed a county auditor to tighten Presidio County’s finances. For example a 2012 audit was given an adverse opinion while banking statements were not reconciled and some records went missing temporarily.

The auditor appointed by Judge Ferguson, Rick Hermann of Ft Davis then resigned in September 2014. He had enthusiastically embraced his appointment saying improving accounting and the county’s finances represented an opportunity, not merely a challenge.

David Beebe succeeds Judge Guevara as Justice of the Peace in north county. Full disclosure: Beebe hosts the Night Train Express and Old School Oldies shows on Marfa Public Radio. Beebe says he’ll work to ease the tension that some in the area have expressed about a heavy law enforcement presence.

“Right now nationwide, law enforcement’s getting a bad wrap. Nobody’s perfect. And I know that all the law enforcement agencies are trying to do their jobs as best as they can here,” Beebe stated.

“And they have a tough job to do. We’ll improve on what we have which is actually quite good even with some of the problems that occasionally crop up.”

Beebe’s father, Roger Bebee, is a Notary Public. As such, he was invited to swear his son in. Roger Beebe recalled another, albeit higher profile, swearing-in by a father of his son.

“One of things this reminds me of is Calvin Coolidge when Warren Harding died,” said the elder Beebe.

“(Coolidge) was sworn in to to office of the President of the United States by his father in the dining room in their home in Vermont in the middle of the night, the first time with anyone with an office that high was sworn in by a Notary Public and his father.”

In Brewster County, Democrat Eleazar Cano takes over the reins from incumbent Kathy Killingsworth whom he defeated in the democratic primary. Cano then won over Republican Jerry Johnson. Killingsworth was named a year ago to replace Judge Val Beard.

And in Jeff Davis County, Republican Jeannette Duer succeeds longtime Republican County Judge George Grubb.

– Lorne Matalon

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