Andy Brown sworn in as Travis County Judge, accepting baton from interim Judge Sam Biscoe

Screen shot of two men and a little girl in the Travis County Commissioners Court chambers
Former Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, left, swears in newly elected Judge Andy Brown. (Courtesy Travis County)

Former Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, left, swears in newly elected Judge Andy Brown. (Courtesy Travis County)

Travis County Judge Andy Brown was sworn in Nov. 17. Brown was elected earlier in November to replace former Judge Sarah Eckhardt, who stepped down in March to pursue her current seat on the Texas State Senate. Sam Biscoe served as judge in the interim and was the one to swear Brown in.

"I believe in a Travis County that works for everyone. I’m confident that together we can meet the challenges that lie ahead as we respond to the impact of COVID on our community and invest in working people and communities of color," Brown said in a speech following his swearing-in ceremony.

Brown touched on several of his key election platforms during the speech, including battling systemic racism and implementing a "Travis County Green New Deal," especially in regards to wildfire and flood prevention. He said criminal justice reform will be his top priority as judge. Having pushed for the creation of the Travis County Sobering Center in 2014, Brown said he will look for more solutions to divert nonviolent offenders from prison.

"A lot of people don't know that the jail is the single largest line item in the Travis County budget," Brown told Community Impact Newspaper. "I'm looking for other creative solutions, like the Sobering Center, that can divert people completely away from the criminal justice system—investing more in mental health and behavioral health to keep people from going to jail."

After his swearing-in ceremony, Brown took over the ongoing meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court, at which he presided over several items, including a resolution reaffirming the county's commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and an approved plan to allow 75% of county employees to work remotely on a permanent basis.

Earlier in the meeting, commissioners and county staff expressed their appreciation to Biscoe, who now enters his second retirement from the county judge role; Biscoe retired in 2014 after serving as judge from 1998-2014 and agreed to return as Eckhardt's interim replacement in March of this year. He first served as Travis County's Precinct 1 Commissioner beginning in 1989.

"We've got great people in this community, but I will tell you, we don't have anybody greater than Sam Biscoe," outgoing Precinct 2 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said. "You are one heck of a public servant."

Daugherty's fellow commissioners similarly praised Biscoe for stepping up during an unprecedented year and navigating the county through an election, a pandemic, a massive development agreement with Tesla and other challenges. They also presented a video tribute to Biscoe highlighting some of his memorable moments in his public life—from his first day as a county commissioner in 1989 to his involvement in 2011's Dancing with the Stars of Austin competition, when he danced to "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth Wind, & Fire.

"My coming back was kind of a tough decision," Biscoe said, "I had no idea that COVID-19 and remote work would be such a prevalent part of the job, but I did live through it, and I feel good enough about it to help Judge Brown through the transition period."

Biscoe will stay on as an advisor to the court for undetermined period of time.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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