By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos spoke candidly on Friday about the daunting task that lies ahead of the Commissioners Court in appointing his successor.
Fresh off of winning re-election to the county judgeship on Nov. 4, Cascos was announced on Tuesday as Governor-elect Greg Abbott’s prospective appointment for Texas Secretary of State, a nomination pending Senate confirmation. With Abbott scheduled to be sworn in as Governor on Jan. 20, 2015, so too will Cascos’ inevitable departure take effect shortly thereafter.
Cascos, however, hopes to play a significant role in helping the Cameron County Commissioners Court appoint a replacement, who would serve for two years of a four-year term before a special election is held to fill the post.
On Friday, Cascos shared his thoughts on the process, first by remarking on the style of leadership he hopes will be implemented by the next judge as well as the possibility of taking applications for the judgeship.
“I don’t have anybody specifically in mind…I’ve got some thoughts,” Cascos said. “Here’s what I’d like to see: Someone who continues with the fiscal discipline we’ve had in last several years. Our financial position has gotten so much better since I came in, and anybody can verify that by going to our website and seeing our financial statements over the last several years.”
Cascos, a Republican, also said that the candidate’s political party should not play a role in their selection, nor their governing if appointed. He added that individuals who ran for judge but lost should not be considered for the appointment since their candidacy was not supported by voters.
“I’d like to have somebody not rejected by voters before for county judge,” Cascos said. “In other words, anyone that’s run for county judge the last couple of times – they had their shot and didn’t prevail. Now it’s time to move on.”
“I obviously want somebody that has the ability to articulate well,” Cascos continued, “…that has an ability to communicate well with the leadership and that’s not partisan. At this point, it’s not really important to me whether this person is a Republican or a Democrat but that they can articulate a message for Cameron County and be innovative and think outside the box. It’s not as easy as you’d think – being the county judge. It’s an investment of time.”
What’s more, Cascos pointed to instances in which the Commissioners Court took applications for Justice of the Peace, Constable, Court-At-Law posts and more when considering appointments, noting further that the same may occur when determining his replacement.
“The other thing I’m considering doing is taking applications – this is not unprecedented,” he said. “Let’s see who’s out there, then maybe screening those applicants to make sure we have a litmus test on what we’re going to do. Do we want a college graduate with a certain background? But then I don’t want to discourage anyone from applying. At the same time, it is a job and someone is applying for it, and even though it’s not a requirement, I would like to see someone who has a good background and a good education to be at the forefront of county government.”
With regard to his level of involvement in selecting his successor, Cascos said that – according to his understanding – he can vote on the appointment along with the commissioners.
“I’m not going to resign until I’m confirmed and appointed up in Austin,” Cascos said. “At the time I’m sworn in, I believe it’s an automatic resignation, so I believe I can vote (while serving as judge).”
Another unique situation is the possibility that a sitting county commissioner may seek the judgeship and must therefore resign before applying for the post.
“Then I, as a sitting county judge, would appoint somebody immediately (to fill the vacant commission seat),” Cascos said. “I think it’s going to be tough for a sitting commissioner to take a leap of faith. How can you be guaranteed three votes without having an open meetings violation? Someone would have to take a leap of faith.”