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After hours of candidate interviews and sleeping on the matter, members of the Cooke County Commissioners' Court unanimously agreed Thursday morning, Jan. 21, to appoint Steve Starnes as the new county judge.

“We had a good group of candidates and I would like to publicly thank everyone for showing their interest and for coming up here and interviewing with us,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Leon Klement said. “ … I think the gentleman that we picked, with his business background and everything, will give this county the best shot or best ability to react to what's going on with the [COVID-19] and the redistricting because this is a business position … I think he will do a good job representing all the people of Cooke County.”

The county refused to release a copy of Starnes' candidate application to the Register.

Starnes worked for Safran Seats USA for forty years and served in several different executive positions, according to a press release issued by the county.

He and his wife, Brenda, lived in Callisburg for more than thirty years. However, they are currently building a new home on their ranch in Gainesville.

Members of the court began their search for a new judge earlier this month after they accepted Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley's resignation.

Brinkley is running to represent Texas House District 68 against fellow Republicans John Berry, Craig Carter and David Spiller. A fifth candidate, Charles Gregory, is running as a Democrat on the ballot. Election Day is Saturday, Jan. 23.

Brinkley's candidacy for state office prompted his resignation under the state’s resign-to-run law, the Register previously reported. He is in the middle of his second term as county judge.

Commissioners met from about 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, before recessing to give everyone a chance to mull over the candidates they interviewed.

Keith Orsburn, Steve Starnes, Bradley Mitchell, David Fogle, John Roane, Douglas Gossett, Vince Rippy, Deborah Longoria, Scott Neu and James Hume were interviewed for Brinkley's position Wednesday, according to information provided by county officials.

On Thursday, members of the court took a roll call vote for the county judge position after they spent a little more than an hour in closed session. All members were present. Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Hollowell attended virtually.

Monday, Jan. 25, will be Brinkley's last meeting to preside over, he said. Commissioners are expected to meet at 10 a.m. Monday at the Cooke County Courthouse in downtown Gainesville.

Starnes is expecting to be take over after he is bonded and sworn in. County officials said his swearing in is expected to take place immediately following Monday's meeting.

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