Harris County Civil Court Judge R. Jack Cagle was officially sworn in Tuesday as Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett named Cagle as the temporary replacement for Jerry Eversole from a list of 66 hopefuls. Cagle was elected as the presiding judge of Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 1 in November 2000 and took the bench on Jan. 1, 2001.
Emmett and Cagle, 50, are old friends and fellow Rice University graduates. Cagle said he has a passion for the community and is ready to get to work.
"If you have a passion for the future and you're a judge, you have to lay those judicial robes down and seek the opportunity to serve another avenue," Cagle said. "Judge (Emmett), I lay my robes down and I join arm in arm with you for the future to take care of the parks, the potholes and to plan to build a great future."
"During this process, my goal was to find someone who could best serve the constituents of Precinct 4," Emmett said. "I met with and spoke with dozens of folks in the community about the Precinct 4 commissioner's position in recent weeks. Jack quickly emerged as the top candidate because of his mature judgment, keen intellect, unquestioned integrity and his many years of work in the community. He will serve the residents of Precinct 4 with great passion and hard work, and I genuinely look forward to working with him in the years to come."
Cagle recently moved into precinct 4 to satisfy residency requirements
"In the last four years, I did live on the edge of the precinct," Cagle said. "And with redistricting ? I moved shortly after redistricting came in. Now I'm a resident."
"The only residency requirement is to live in the precinct on the date of appointment," Emmett said.
Cagle served as an election precinct chairman in Precinct 4 and kept a law office in the area.
Some political observers believe Emmett sees Cagle as an ally. Emmett has run into opposition from other commissioners recently in his attempts to restructure county government.
"One would suspect Judge Emmett made this appointment with some expectation that this will be someone who will be supportive of him as county judge at the court," Democratic political consultant Keir Murray said.
Cagle made it clear he wants the commissioner's job permanently. He's been active in Republican politics for 25 years.
"He's been elected three times countywide. He's a name people know. He is well known to the grass roots cause. He came out of the grass roots when he ran for judge. That ends up being a big plus," said Gary Polland, former Harris County Republican Party director.
Voters in Precinct 4 will vote for a permanent replacement in 2012.
On Friday, Eversole pleaded guilty to lying to a federal investigator. He had been charged with conspiracy, accepting a bribe and making false statements on tax returns in 2003 and 2004. All of those charges were dismissed.
Part of the plea deal involved Eversole resigning from office. He submitted that resignation earlier this month and it became effective Saturday. He is also not allowed to run for public office for 10 years.
Eversole will be sentenced in January. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Precinct 4 is the largest in Harris County with more than a million residents and an annual budget of $119 million.