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$53 million project she will now oversee

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The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - County Judge appointee Carol Bush did not vote in the $53 million 2007 government facilities bond package, a project she will oversee if her appointment becomes finalized on April 8.

Bush, who was appointed Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 in the early 90s, sought the Court at Law No. 2 position in the 2002 Republican Party primary where she finished fourth out of five candidates. She was recently tapped to replace County Judge Chad Adams, who resigned to take a job in the private sector.

" I didn’t apply or inquire about the position, I was just asked by a few people and for that I am very honored," said Bush, who was not present at last week’s March 23 commissioners court meeting.

Bush, a lawyer in private practice, threw her hat into the ring when Court at Law No. 1 became vacant upon Bob Carroll’s retirement in 2006, but county commissioners bypassed her in favor of Greg Wilhelm, a Midlothian lawyer who won the 2006 GOP nomination for county treasurer.

The facilities vote, the second facilities bond package to be put before voters in recent years, was passed by more than 200 votes, but Bush skipped voting in the controversial election.

"I was on vacation [during the time of the vote] and before that, I was dealing with a family crisis," said Bush.

Voters had rejected a bond package in 1998 for a county administration office and county jail expansion, but commissioners under the county judge administration of Al Cornelius, passed tax anticipation notes and funded the projects anyway.

After numerous construction problems plagued the three-story Justice Center and jail annex, including excessive mold and water damage that made the buildings unsafe for county officials and furniture to use, the administration building was razed.

The 2007 bond vote was approved by voters to replace the now-razed Justice Center. The City of Waxahachie passed an agreement to pay for a three-story parking garage.

Commissioner Bill Dodson, R-Ennis, made the motion to nominate Bush, wasn’t aware of her not voting but stammered and said, "I think we already made our decision, [We will] appoint her officially April 8."

Republican Dennis Robinson, who won re-election to a second, four-year term in Precinct 2 in November, seconded the Dodson motion.

"I’m sure there are a lot of people in Ellis County who didn’t vote that day. No, it doesn’t affect my appointing her as judge at all," said Robinson.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Brown, R-Red Oak, also voted for Bush’s appointment and wasn’t aware she didn’t vote in one of the county’s biggest elections. Brown is the longest-serving member of the commissioner’s court and was the only commissioner to oppose the tax note that paid for the first round of county facilities.

Commissioner Heath Sims of Precinct 3 was the lone dissenting vote on Bush’s nomination.

"We have made the motion for the office, it’s not voted on yet," said Sims, a Republican from Waxahachie.

"We can come back and say things have come up, it was just a motion to appoint, not an official appointment."

"I do think there are more qualified people to serve the county, that [not voting] does show a lack of concern and the fact that more people have shown to be more interested in Ellis County.

"I’ll work with her as long as it’s for a better sense of government. Carol Bush may do an excellent job, as long as she is testifying or voting for the right thing, to help change our county. Isn’t that really what the people want? If you don’t want change, you are not looking forward," said Sims.

Bush, meanwhile, has not indicated if she plans to seek the GOP nomination in next year’s county judge primary against Bob Carroll, currently the only announced candidate for the seat.

"I think it’s really premature to answer if I will run or not, this is such a new development to me, I need to take care of what’s important first then my feeling on where I should be will be easier to decide," said Bush.

She isn’t officially appointed yet. Last week’s March 23 vote was just to ratify the vote after reconvening from executive session on the subject.

"We could still come back with changed minds," said Sims.

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