AUSTIN, Texas - Several county judge seats are up for election in Central Texas.
The county judge does not have to be a judge or have a legal background and presides over the commissioners court.
County judges also have the ability to issue disaster declarations and enact emergency measures.
Below is a look at some races.
On her website, Rupal writes that she took an interest in politics following the City of Austin’s plans to purchase for $9.5 million a hotel in the same parking lot as their hotels for use as a homeless shelter. In an effort to increase responsiveness and transparency in local government for residents, she and her husband Sanjay began the Stop Candlewood movement dedicated to fighting for better options for Austin’s unhoused population.
Rupal holds a degree in Accounting and Economics, she also has a degree from Company Secretaries of India and a Master’s degree from St. Mary’s Law School. She is a licensed attorney specializing in immigration and manages the finances for the family’s business holdings including hotels and an electronics component distribution business.
A U.S. resident since 2007 and a citizen since 2010, she and her husband live near Volente where they raise 8-year-old twins Aaditya, their son, and Amairah, their daughter.
Rupal lists homelessness, public safety, quality of life, and transportation as the major issues she's tackling on her website.
Andy Brown is the current Travis County Judge and has also served as a practicing lawyer, community organizer, justice advocate, Travis County Democratic Party Chair, senior advisor to Beto O’Rourke, and volunteer.
On his website, Brown writes that he has "worked tirelessly to improve access to health care programs across Travis County. He has partnered with neighboring counties to increase the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for our region. He has strengthened relationships with community partners to help ensure people across Travis County have quality health care equity."
"When the winter storms struck, Andy helped bring gas, water, and food to neighborhoods hardest hit by the storm. He fought for investments in our emergency response system, including additional staff to help with wildfire prevention."
"Andy has championed safe, stable, and affordable housing. He has implemented some of the most robust eviction protections in the state during the pandemic and passed policies that will help thousands end the cycle of homelessness, and provide new opportunities to live and thrive in Travis County."
"Finally, Andy believes our justice system can become more fair and safe when we focus on crime prevention and invest in people and services rather than on buildings that lock people up. To learn more about Andy’s vision for Travis County, click here."
Bill Gravell, Jr. is currently the Williamson County Judge. He was sworn into office on January 1, 2019.
Judge Gravell previously served as the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2018.
For the last 30 years of his professional life, Judge Gravell has been involved in ministry. He spent 22 years as a Pastor of Sonterra Fellowship in Jarrell.
Blane Conklin says he was a Republican but in 2005, following the events of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Conklin says "the lack of response, compassion, and basic human empathy shown by the administration was the turning point for me. It was not something I did lightly, but I made a personal decision to align with the party I felt reflected the values I believe in: Being a good neighbor, doing to others what you would have them do to you, and being a Good Samaritan."
Conklin has been married for 29 years and spent the last 19 in Williamson County. He has two adult daughters who went to Round Rock public schools.
He has a PhD from the University of Chicago and is a senior business analyst at the University of Texas System. He's worked at UT since 2005.
Conklin lists public health and safety, justice, mental health, financial discipline and integrity, water, climate action, non-partisanship, and confederate monument as the main issues for him.
Wes Benedict is an engineer, small businessman, husband, father, and served as national Executive Director of the Libertarian Party in Washington, D.C.
He says he wants to reduce law enforcement expenses while keeping families safe.
Benedict lists his priorities as cutting taxes and spending, free markets not subsidies, welcoming immigrants and foreign workers, ending marijuana arrests.
Mark Jones was first elected as Hays County Commissioner Precinct 2 in 2010. Over the past 12 years, Jones says his leadership in focusing on core services to provide the community with high-quality core services for safety, security, and quality of life has been exemplified. He says he is running for county judge because "our success requires a county judge who can be trusted to do what’s right and deliver on what matters most."
Jones says he is a proponent of livability and affordability, which is why he fought to hold the line on county taxes and spending.
He also lists improving transportation and mobility as a priority.
Ruben Becerra is the current Hays County Judge. He is a long time resident of San Marcos and recently celebrated his 29th wedding anniversary with his wife, Monica. He has two sons.
Accomplishments that Becerra lists on his site include creating a criminal justice commission, establishing a mental health hospital task force, creating the public defender's office, establishing a small business COVID-19 task force, and creating a Council for the Indigenous and Tejano Community,
Becerra says he is running for reelection to "advance ambitious initiatives that continue to improve the lives of all residents in Hays County.