Orange County Judge-elect says first priority is fixing budget woes

The newly-elected Orange County Judge is sharing his plans for the future. Republican Brint Carlton defeated John Dubose by fewer than 400 votes in Tuesday's primary run-off election. Carlton has no Democratic challenger.  This means the 32-year-old will become one of, if not the youngest judge in county history when he takes office in January.

"The closest in age I can think of is Pete Reynolds, who served in the 1980's, and I think he was 33 or 34 when he took office," Carlton said.

Carlton will be replacing current County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, the longest sitting judge in county history, serving 16 years.

"I think I have some big shoes to fill. Judge Thibodeaux, he's an icon around here. He's very well established and he's done a lot of great things for the county," said Carlton.

Carlton graduated from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School in 2000. He earned his bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin, then earned a master's degree in Health Administration from the University of Florida before joining the U.S. Air Force, where he specialized in hospital administration. He then went to law school at Saint Mary's University in San Antonio and has been working as a special prosecutor handling juvenile cases for the Orange County District Attorney's office for the past year.    

Carlton says his experience managing a $14 million medical budget while in the Air Force makes him qualified to tackle the county's biggest problem: a roughly $3 million budget deficit.

"It's such an important issue right now that I think it's going to take a lot of effort to really analyze and see how best we can provide services at maximum efficiency to the taxpayers," he said.

He says he will start working on fixing the budget starting day one.

"I would prefer not to have to lay people off or change benefits, but that may be something that's required. I really don't want to have to raise taxes on people, because I think the government gets enough of our money as it is, but I'll make whatever tough decisions have to be made, and I think that's what the people elected me to do," he said.

Carlton also said he plans to help raise revenue for the county by bringing new businesses to the area, creating new jobs. He said he thinks too many young people leave Orange County to find work elsewhere.


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