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October 30, 2012

Someone needed to fill out term

Athens — The Henderson County Commissioners Court set the process in motion to choose someone to fill out Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Henry Ashford’s unexpired term.

Ashford died of a heart attack Oct. 20, leaving a vacancy in the office he had held since 2002. Ashford’s term was set to end Dec. 31, 2013.

The county will take applications for two weeks before scheduling interviews. Applications can be turned in to County Judge Richard Sander’s Office.

“I want to still say that our heart goes out to his family, but the business of the county continues,” Sanders said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall asked if the county would restrict applications for the interim appointment to those who say they will not seek election to the office when it becomes available in 2014.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence said because of the length of the term remaining, the county probably shouldn’t restrict the appointee’s freedom to run.

When the county appointed Aubrey Jones to replace retiring County Judge Tommy Smith in 2002, he reportedly agreed not to seek election that November.

David Holstein won the election over Democrat Randy Daniel.

County Attoney Clint Davis said state rules for serving as an appointee are different from election regulations. The Commissioners can choose someone who doesn’t reside in Precinct 1, or even an out-of-county resident to serve the unexpired term.

Justice of the Peace Milton Adams, who served Precinct 6 until his office was eliminated in the last round of redistricting, has taken over part of the JP1 duties since Ashford’s death.

Davis said Adams has stated that he’s not interested in becoming the interim appointee.

Lawrence made a motion that the county collect applications to be reviewed at the Nov. 13 Commissioners meeting.  The motion passed unanimously.

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