Taking the oath from County Judge Dean Fowler were Sheriff Anthony Betterton, County Tax Assessor-Collector Sherron Laminack,Pct. 1 Comm. Paula Gentry, Pct. 3 Comm. Frank Berka; and four constables, Gene Dolle, Pct. 1; Jason Weeks, Pct. 2; Stanley Jenkins, Pct. 3; and Phillip Hill, Pct. 4.
All are Republicans in a county which for many decades had only Democratic county officials until the late 1990s. All of the newly-inaugurated officials were elected without opposition in the November general election after winning the GOP nomination earlier in the year.
Ms. Gentry, who was an employee in the Gladewater branch of the County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office, becomes the Commissioners Court’s first female member since the late Bernice Nobles served in the 1980s. Ms. Gentry ousted 2-term incumbent James Crittenden in the July 31 GOP runoff.
Berka, a businessman, meantime replaces 2-term incumbent Lloyd Crabtree, who Berka ousted in the May 29 GOP primary.
Betterton essentially won reelection to a fourth 4-year term by defeating Larry Webb by 25 votes in the July runoff. Mrs. Laminack, who was appointed to her office by the Commissioners Court in May 2011 when longtime incumbent Mike Smith resigned, had no opponent in the Republican primary in winning her first term in her own right.
Hill defeated two challengers in the GOP primary to win reelection to a second term, while Weeks was reelected to a second term without opposition. Dolle and Jenkins won Republican runoff races in July to respectively replace Pct. 1 Constable Russell Harris and Pct. 3 Constable Jerry Kuhn, neither of whom sought reelection.
During Monday’s 17-minute ceremony in the third-floor County Courtroom, where the Commissioners Court meets, Fowler administered the oath first to Ms. Gentry and Berka jointly, then to Laminack, then the constables jointly, before administering it to Betterton and dozens of sheriff’s deputies simultaneously.