Twelve county officials elected in November were officially sworn in Wednesday morning.
Of the 12, all but two are re-elected officials. Precinct 2 County Commissioner Kenny Howell won his seat in a called election to fill the unexpired term of former Commissioner John Matthews. Matthews resigned in 2011 after allegations of theft by a public official and other crimes surfaced. Matthews pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in jail.
Since commissioners’ terms run four years, Howell will face re-election in 2014 to return his seat to its regular election cycle.
Precinct 1 Constable Matt Wylie is also newly elected. Wylie served from 2000-07 before taking a job in the private sector.
Other officials sworn in included:
zx Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford
zx 413th District Judge Bill Bosworth
zx 18th District Judge John Neill
zx Johnson County District Attorney Dale Hanna
zx Johnson County Attorney Bill Moore
zx Tax Assessor/Collector Scott Porter
zx County Treasurer Debbie Rice
zx Precinct 1 Commissioner Rick Bailey
zx Precinct 3 Commissioner Jerry Stringer
zx Precinct 3 Constable Michael White
Troop 673 Boy Scouts posted colors to open the ceremony. Retired pastor Kenneth Coleman led prayer and added that although politicians tend to get a “bad rap” elsewhere, the men and women serving Johnson County remain truly dedicated to doing what’s best for the community.
County Judge Roger Harmon referenced the confusion and delay of last year’s election, statewide and on a local level, because of redistricting controversies. Harmon said it saddens him to see less people seeking public office in recent years and commended those who do.
“It’s not hard to understand why though,” Harmon said. “In elections things are said that shouldn’t be said sometimes, and it hurts at times.”
Bosworth said the pomp and circumstance of swearing-in ceremonies thrills the elected officials and their families, but is just as important if not more so for the residents of Johnson County.
“It marks, for the public, an official change of commandment or continuation for those officials re-elected,” Bosworth said. “It also reminds us that we are beholden to the power of the voters and only occupy these offices temporarily. That we are not beholden to a party or a person, but to the voters, the Constitution, state and federal and God.”
In addition to thanking family members, all sworn in thanked their department staff members, and many said they are proud of the way the different departments of the county work together and compliment one another.
“I think Johnson County could serve as a role model for a lot of the country,” Bailey said. “We have good leaders here.”
Howell and Stringer agreed and at the same time thanked residents for supporting them at the polls.
“These last four years I’ve found a fantastic group of people in Johnson County,” Stringer said. “They are the utmost professional, the utmost in caring, giving and wanting to do the best they can, and I am so proud to be a part of this county.”
Echoing similar sentiments, Wylie called it both a privilege to be able to serve, and to go through the election process.
“It’s good to be back,” Wylie said.