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Carroll switch shakes primary

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The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE – For the first time in 24 years, Ellis County voters will have a new 40th District Court judge.
Also, for the first time in 40 years, Judge Gene Knize will be out of a county job.
Knize, a former county/district attorney who switched parties from Democrat to Republican in 1993 and was elected district judge that year, announced two weeks ago he would not seek re-election.
Knize’s announcement was after Red Oak lawyer Dan Gus, a partner with Dallas Walker Sewell law firm, announced Nov. 24 at the Republican Party of Ellis County executive committee of his intentions of waging a primary battle against Knize.
Former Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 Judge Bob Carroll, R-Midlothian, announced in March for the county judge position, a nonjudicial, mostly administrative role at the time was currently held by Chad Adams.

After months campaigning for county judge, Carroll changed his mind and will now take on Gus in the Republican Party primary March 2.

"The announcement by District Judge Gene Knize, not to seek re-election, presented an equally significant, but different opportunity to serve the citizens of Ellis County," said Carroll.

"With 24 years legal experience and having served for 10 years as a Judge in Ellis County Court at Law, where I earned national recognition, I was compelled to be responsible for the best use of my skills and to consider this as a primary option."

Adams, who considered Carroll a political mentor, announced his resignation the day after Carroll’s candidacy announcement and took a job in the private sector as vice president for Ali Sharaf at Victron Energy in Waxahachie.

County commissioners in April appointed Waxahachie lawyer Carol Bush, who had previously lost a race for Court at Law No. 2 in 2002’s Republican primary, finishing fourth out of five candidates to fill his vacancy.

Some Republican supporters are in an uproar over the decision.

"If he [Carroll] wants to have the trust of the people he wouldn’t have made this unwise political decision I think," said Paul Perry.

Perry claims if he had known sooner that Carroll wasn’t going to run, he would have ran himself as county judge.

As for the race between Carroll and Gus, Perry feels "Dan would be a wonderful district judge."

Gus said Carroll made a "poor decision" to switch races, but the presence of another candidate will not deter him from continuing.

"After intense self-examination, consultation with my campaign team, and thorough evaluation of where I might best contribute, I made the decision to seek the office of District Judge and begin the process of a new campaign," said Carroll.

Commissioners decision to appoint Bush was announced two days before the official vote took place, according to lawyers who work inside the Ellis County/District Attorneys office; one county commissioner said Bush received the appointment because "she didn’t get [Bobs job]."

Carroll resigned his Court at Law No. 1 seat in April 2007. Then County Treasurer Greg Wilhelm, elected in the March 2006 primary over incumbent Ron Langenheder, was appointed to fill Carrolls spot on the court.
Bush, with Knize’s backing and lobbying, had campaigned for the appointment along with several other Ellis County lawyers, including Waxahachie Mayor Ron Wilkinson.
Filing for local, state and federal offices for all political parties ends Jan. 4.

Currently, Bush is running unopposed for the county judge position.

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