— By JUDY SHERIDAN
“I will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution and laws of the United States and this state ...”
Parker County’s newly elected officials were sworn in — many by family members — during a well-attended and formal ceremony conducted Monday at the courthouse. There are four new faces: 43rd District Judicial Court Judge Craig Towson, Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden, Precinct 2 Constable Joe Harris, Jr. and Precinct 4 Constable Scott Jones.
State Rep. Phil King opened with an invocation, asking God to give officials “good judgment, wisdom, discretion and the courage to make the hard decisions.”
Judge Mark Riley’s office manager, Sophie Clark, sang the national anthem.
The 13 officials were sworn in according to ballot order, beginning with Towson, who was given the oath by 415th District Judge Graham Quisenberry. Towson will replace Trey Loftin, who was defeated in the Republican primaries after a hotly contested race.
“Thank you to the family and friends I knew I had and the ones I met on this campaign,” Towson, who confessed to being “overwhelmed” before the meeting, said. “I will do my best to make everyone in Parker County proud.”
Quisenberry, beginning his 19th year of public service, was sworn in by Judge Jerry Buckner. District Attorney Don Schnebly was sworn in by Quisenberry.
Judge Ben Akers, of County Court at Law 2, was sworn in by his children, Maggie and Mark.
Eliciting smiles and loud applause from the crowd, County Attorney John Forrest’s articulate second-grade son Jax administered the oath while Forrest’s wife Erika held the Bible.
Sheriff Larry Fowler, approaching 50 years in law enforcement, was also sworn in by his son, Larry Fowler, Jr. Fowler has served as sheriff for eight years.
County Tax Accessor-Collector Marjorie King, who defeated Larry Lippincott in another heated primary race, was not present and will be sworn in at a later time, according to the program.
Daughters Allie and Whitney and grandson Gage gave the oath to Precinct 1 Commissioner George Conley.
New Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden, replacing John Roth — who did not seek re-election — was sworn in by his friend, Trevor Stephens.
In an interview before the ceremony, Walden said he was anxious to work with the county judge and other commissioners for the county’s betterment. He said he was elected to work for the taxpayers.
“I’m looking at some community meetings to take input and have citizens express their opinions as to the true operations of county government,” he said. “I want everybody in precinct 3 to give us an idea of their priorities, so we can formulate our plans.”
Precinct 1 Constable Larry Nix was sworn in by longtime employee and friend Diana Cole.
New Precinct 2 Constable Joe Harris Jr. was sworn in by his wife, Kara, and father, Joe Harris. Harris replaces Lowell Moss.
Judge Suzie Merkley gave Precinct 3 Constable Glen Praytor the oath — for the fourth time.
New Precinct 4 Constable Scott Jones was sworn in by Precinct 4 Constable Bob Brown, who County Judge Mark Riley publicly thanked for his many years of service.
Jones, a senior chief petty officer in the Navy Reserves, said he has taken two other oaths, one of marriage and another of service to his country.
“This is a change of command for me,” he said. “I hope I can live up to the job that [Brown] has done.”