Published October 2011
Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls
I spent 33 years in radio and television news. My entire career was spent at the same radio/TV station in Abilene. I lost my job during the recession as the station downsized its staff. I was looking for a new job when I received a call asking me if I had ever thought about running for county judge. I was honored to be considered in that light, but I wasn't sure I was up to the challenge. I asked my wife about it, and she said, "You'd be perfect for that job." She's been my biggest supporter through everything. (Editor’s Note: Judge Bolls is in his first term as county judge.)
Is it what you expected? Yes and no. You can read over a job description, but it really doesn't prepare you for the realities of the job. There are so many things that I came into the job with pre-conceived notions about that have opened my eyes as to how county government in Texas works. I love what I do and try to learn something new every day.
I'm not sure there is a "typical" day – maybe the variety of things you may see on any given day are typical for a county judge. I usually arrive for work when everyone else does and spend the first few hours of the day checking e-mails, reading through cases that will be on my agenda and looking for things that may come up in a hearing that need special attention. My door is always "open," so I get a wide variety of people dropping in to see me on a wide variety of issues. There are typically probates and mental cases to hear, plus the administrative duties of the office that must be tended to, as well. At about four each afternoon, I try to sit down and look over the next days' schedule to get a head start.
I think there are a number of challenges, but by far the biggest is trying to find enough time to do it all. There are so many things to learn, so many things to do, and I still try to find the time to do my job better today than I did it yesterday. My favorite time of day is reading comments from other judges on the county judges’ listserv. There is a huge knowledge base there, and they are great mentors to those still learning their job.
Favorite part of the job?
I have become an enormous fan of county government. It is a fascinating arena of public service and one that many people don't really understand or perhaps appreciate. Watching county government do what it does is extremely gratifying to me, and I am constantly amazed at the process – how it all works. I get excited just being a part of it and being able to work alongside so many gifted and dedicated public servants.