Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt resigns to prep for state Senate run

A photo of Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has officially resigned. (Courtesy Travis County)

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has officially resigned. (Courtesy Travis County)

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt resigned her post in preparation to run for Kirk Watson’s recently vacated Texas Senate seat at a March 10 meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court.

Commissioners voted unanimously to accept Eckhardt’s resignation and also voted to name former Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe as her interim replacement until a permanent successor is named in November. Biscoe previously served the court from 1998-2014.

“This is the most fun and challenging job I’ve ever had,” Eckhardt said, through tears. “I love Travis County.”

Eckhardt’s resignation follows an announcement she made via Twitter Feb. 18 saying that she was considering a run for state Sen. Kirk Watson’s vacated seat—after Watson said he would step down in order to serve as the first dean of the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs.

“I am considering running in the special election to step into [Watson’s] shoes in Senate District 14,” Eckhardt wrote, citing health care, transportation, redistricting and criminal justice reform as key issues motivating her run.

“If I win, I will switch out Senator Watson’s shoes for the first pair of heels to walk in that position. I am the first woman Travis County Judge. I am considering running to be the first woman Senator in District 14,” she wrote.

Candidates for state Senate are not permitted to concurrently hold another “lucrative” public office in Texas, per Article 3, Sect. 19 of the Texas Constitution. If Eckhardt had officially announced her candidacy for Watson’s seat prior to tendering her resignation from Travis County, her announcement would have instantly triggered a resignation, according to a representative from Travis County.

Eckhardt will continue in her position as Travis County Judge until her interim successor is sworn in.

The special election to fill Watson's seat is tentatively expected to take place May 2. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez has announced his candidacy for the State Senate seat, and Austin City Council Member Greg Casar has also filed initial paperwork to run for the post.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.