During a special session of the Wharton County Commissioners Court, East Bernard resident Rusty Graves was appointed unanimously to replace the late Chris King for the seat of Precinct 2 Commissioner.
Leading up to the special session on Friday, Aug. 1, Graves was the supervisor for Wharton County’s Drainage Department.
According to the county, Graves has served as the first (and only) supervisor for this department since its creation in January 2012. He has been charged with implementing the county’s master drainage plan, which consists of supervising 15 employees to carry out countywide drainage activities. They included, but are not limited to excavation, culvert replacement and installations, spraying, obtaining property access easements, and removing debris.
Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath said there are no plans to name an interim supervisor.
Graves was present during the special session, which included the Commissioners Court going into closed session. After the vote, Graves was sworn in by Judge Spenrath.
At different times during the special session, both men respectively said: “you don’t replace Chris King.”
Moving forward, the Graves’ appointment will be until the next general election in November 2020, Spenrath said. He added that the winner of the Precinct 2 election will then serve a two-year term until 2022. It will occur at the time same that the offices of Precinct 4 and county judge are scheduled.
The precinct 2 position is a four-year term that coincides with the state’s gubernatorial election.
Wharton County resident Steven Roberts was given the opportunity by Spenrath to speak just as the special session began. Roberts said it was imperative for citizens of this county to exercise their right to vote when the opportunity arises. He feels regardless of an appointment, voters should still be able to go to the polls at a necessary time and go through the voting process to select an elected official.
During the special session, Spenrath said according to Local Government Code, if a vacancy occurs in the office of county commissioner, the county judge may appoint a suitable resident of the precinct in which the vacancy exists to fill the vacancy until the next general election.
From the opening of the special session, Spenrath said Commissioners Court would be looking at the qualifications of an existing employee, that person only being Graves.
King served as commissioner for 28 years, winning multiple elections. He had suffered from cancer for some time and died on Tuesday, July 23. He was laid to rest on July 27.