Candidates line up for WilCo attorney as Duty leaves post

With Williamson County Attorney Jana Duty announcing her intention to run for district attorney against incumbent John Bradley, multiple Texas lawyers have filed to run for the county attorney position.

Rick Kennon, Jeff Maurice and Dee Hobbs filed as Republicans to run for county attorney before the temporary Dec. 19 filing deadline. The candidacy filing period will be reopened after a court enters redistricting plans for Texas House, Senate and Congress. The filing period will then be permanently closed Feb. 1.

The county attorney is in charge of prosecuting misdemeanor adult criminal and all juvenile cases, handling all small-claims cases and several of the civil lawsuits filed against the county, and performing civil duties such as representing Child Protective Services on behalf of abused and neglected children of Williamson County.

Duty has served as county attorney for seven years. The relationship between county commissioners and Duty has been strained following a series of lawsuits and grievances the parties filed against each other.

The Williamson County Attorney's Office provided legal counsel to commissioners before the county created a legal advisor position in 2010. Multiple candidates cited Duty's conflict with the commissioners and county judge as a reason they entered the county attorney race.

For her part, Duty has said keeping commissioners in check was one of the many jobs she was elected to do.

The candidates who have filed

Hobbs received his law degree from Baylor University and has worked in the county attorney's office for the past 10 years. He is currently the chief of the office's criminal division. He said he is well-qualified to be county attorney because he knows how the county attorney's office works and where it needs to go.

"I think it's a passion for the office that's important," he said. "I love what I do, and I want to keep moving forward."

Kennon, an attorney for 27 years, filed before Duty announced her intention to run for district attorney. He said he thinks he is the most experienced candidate and that he has done everything from litigation representing a governmental entity to prosecution and criminal defense work.

"I've covered the gambit of what the county attorney's office does, and I think because of that experience, I've got a better ability to run that office," he said.

Maurice received a law degree from The University of Texas at Austin and was a lawyer for Dell Inc. He ran and lost as a Democrat against Williamson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Morrison in 2010. He is running for county attorney as a Republican.

"We must do a much better job of negotiating, administering and enforcing the county's contracts and business arrangements while making Williamson County a good and fair place to do business," he said in a statement. "I believe that my proven track record as Dell's lead attorney in developing Dell's Round Rock and Parmer Lane campuses is an achievement that can't be matched by any other candidate in the race."

The general primary election is scheduled for April 3.

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