Running on over a decade of experience and refuted rumors of outsider residence, former County Commissioner Richard Easingwood announced his candidacy for County Judge on Monday morning to a small crowd of supporters on the Tom Green County Courthouse steps.
“I do want to let everyone know that I have formally announced my candidacy for Tom Green County Judge,” Easingwood addressed the crowd. “I have been informed by a party chair on the Republican Party side (Jeff Betty) that Judge Brown is not going to seek re-election.”
Easingwood’s campaign announcement comes at a calculated time. Amidst rumors of Judge Brown’s retirement, the grape vine is passing on chunks of speculation as to who will run and who the Commissioners’ choice will be. Although no one has officially confirmed the Judge’s retirement, sufficient non-affirmative statements seem to support the gossip.
“I know we have an executive session that he’s scheduled for Tuesday, so I’m thinking that’s a possibility [that he’s stepping down], but there’s nothing set yet about anything, that I know of,” said Commissioner Steve Floyd in an interview last week.
Floyd is rumored to be the first choice of incumbent Judge Brown and the Commissioners’ Court for Brown’s successor should he step down. This prospect, however, hasn’t phased Easingwood.
“[I’m] 110 percent confident [in a win],” said Easingwood after announcing his candidacy Monday. “I shouldn’t be here if I wasn’t. I ran to win [last time]. I had 37.6 percent of the vote. I was running against a 16-year incumbent. You talk about entrenched? He had roots that were in real deep. Now, it’s a whole new ball game. That’s what I like. It’s me convincing the voter I’m the best person for the job.”
As the right man for the job, Easingwood cites 12 years of experience as a County Commissioner, and another 20-30 years as an actively involved San Angelo citizen.
But Easingwood’s residence may also prove a problem. The rumor mill has also called into question whether Easingwood has actually been an active resident, and many are pointing fingers toward New Mexico.
Following his failed run for election in 2010, Easingwood is reported to have left San Angelo for the mountainous Ruidoso area, where he is said to have remained for the past couple of years.
Easingwood has said he is happy to dispel any rumors, and can do so very easily.
“Yes, I have a place up there [in Ruidoso],” said Easingwood. “It’s not a permanent residence. My residence is on Fairway Drive. [The] property in Ruidoso is not in my name.”
Easingwood maintains that he has been in San Angelo consistently since his run for County Judge in 2010, and that the rumors stem from when he was looking for property in New Mexico as a vacation home.
“I have four houses in San Angelo—you can pull them up on the tax records and see it…I’d be happy to have you come over there and sit down to talk to me and see that I do have furniture in there,” Easingwood continued. “It sounds to me like some people are starting to put some things about me out there. [It comes from] somebody being very jealous of my position,” he said.
Regardless of the rumors and suspicion concerning his candidacy, Easingwood states that running for the position has been his ambition since his last bout on the campaign trail.
“I was most definitely planning to run,” Easingwood said. “Right after my commitment the first time, the day after I started getting phone calls from people saying ‘Hey, you’re going to do this again aren’t you?’ I said, yes.”
During his speech, Easingwood stated a few objectives he hopes to achieve in office.
“There are things at the county level that I think we can do and participate in and a little bit more…It’s opening up city government. I’d like to see us open up county government…bring that to the Commissioners’ Court and see if that might be a viable option for us to do those types of things, Easingwood began.
“It’s very important that we have participation in all levels of government…I think through that participation we’ll be able to achieve a lot of the goals that we set forth in water issues, in issues concerning our own rivers—and I do want to press upon everyone that I will be very much a listener as to how things happen and go on in the county,” Easingwood said.
Among his most pertinent goals, Easingwood mentions the ambition of keeping things running smoothly for taxpayers, keeping tax rates down and keeping property values up. He also mentioned the importance of looking to the oil industry with respect to how it will affect the community and its water supplies over the next five years.
Ultimately, Easingwood’s success will be decided by the court. “The County Judge is a very respected position in the county,” Easingwood stated. “I want everyone to know that the commissioners are the ones that hold the judge up. Their four votes decide.”
Incumbent County Judge Brown has said he will be making a formal address concerning his future intentions at Tuesday’s commissioner’s court meeting. As of yet, his alleged retirement has not been confirmed.