Competitive Brown County Judge's race emerges despite poor early voting turnout

BROWN COUNTY, Texas -- Early voting numbers in Brown County for this year's midterm elections were underwhelming, according to the election's office.

Assistant Elections Administrator Larry Franks said only 64 percent of those who voted in 2014, the last non-presidential election year, voted during the 10 days of early voting,

BROWN COUNTY, Texas -- The apparent lack of enthusiasm in this year's elections is happening amid a competitive Brown County Judge’s race.

Paul Lilly has spent the last several months trying to differentiate himself from incumbent Ray West.

West has been county judge since 1992. Lilly's message is that it's time for a change.

"The general perception is that there's a credibility issue is how I heard it best described," Lilly said. "A serious credibility issue."

Lilly is referring to a 2013 corruption investigation against West that KTXS previously reported on in which the Texas Attorney General's Office chose not to prosecute him.

"Attacking someone's character and that person's character being sullied are two different things," West said. "I think my character has been proven to be good."

West refutes the allegations made against him as “frivolous complaints,” and has said the fact that he was never charged for any wrongdoing should speak for itself.

"The concept of smoke-filled rooms and underhand dealing, that Good Ol’ Boy concept, that doesn't exist," West said. "When things are done in Brown County, they are done properly."

Lilly, on the other hand, said that system is alive and well at the Brown County Courthouse.

"There's nothing wrong with the Good Ol' Boy system as long its done legitimately, honestly, openly, and fairly. But, as you know, the allegations here are that it hasn't been the case."

West believes anyone who wants to be a county judge should have a law degree and judicial experience. Lilly does not have either one.

"Progress is change and I intend to continue with the progress this county has made over the past 20 years," West said.

Lilly, however, said less than 20 percent of county judges in Texas are lawyers.

"Twenty-five plus years with the same county judge, let's see if we can go in a different direction and have greater success," Lilly said.

Election day for the March primaries is Tuesday. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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