Barry Hilliard, the Runnels County judge for ten years, hangs up his robe on May 31. Hilliard sums up his philosophy on his tenure in one sentence: “If you’re transparent and honest, you never have to worry about trying. to remember what you said or did. “
Hilliard’s life in public dates back to 1970. He worked in the oilfield and returned home to visit his parents. “Mom told me Sheriff Don Atkins wanted to talk to me. I met him and met him at the Texas Grill. He asked me to come and work in the jail.” Hilliard accepted the offer which would eventually lead him out. the way of law enforcement.
Hilliard says he worked for the sheriff’s office for about a year and a half, “After that I went to Midland and started as a police officer in 1972.” He would remain in Midland until about 1982, when he returned home to take care of the family farm and ranch. The judge’s days in public service were not over, however, “Sheriff Bill Baird spoke to me in 1983 and asked me to work for him. I worked for him for a few years. Then I Had my arm hung in a PTO shaft of a post hole excavator while working the farm one day. “
The broken arm and other injuries from the incident took Hilliard out of public service temporarily. Hilliard found that his desire to continue serving the people of Runnels County had not come with the accident, “I was a police officer for 4 years. My term began in 1992.” This did not stop Hilliard from continuing to operate the family farm and ranch and train horses. One day while working with horses, Hilliard had a “horse wreck.” The wreckage caused him to suffer a broken neck, which he did not realize until a doctor’s visit. “I spoke to the wreck doctor and my neck hurt. He took x-rays and then said, ‘No wonder your neck hurts. You broke it.” “The Hilliard family has operated the family farm since around 1880.
Hilliard remained busy cultivating and ranching until he was sworn in as a county judge on January 1, 2011. Hilliard built on the foundations of his predecessors, while also contributing his own efforts to his ensure that the foundation remains solid. “It has been an honor for me to serve the people of Runnels County,” said Hilliard, when asked about his tenure.
Hilliard believes the COVID pandemic could have been better handled by government leaders, “It was terrible and it was really exhausting. It was all handled horribly.” Many counties in the state have closed all business doors and banned group gatherings, even after the governor started opening things. The County of Runnels remained open when the governor authorized it. “I couldn’t see the county shutting down. I felt people knew the risks and if they understood that, they could face it accordingly.”
When it comes to taking care of the people of the County, Hilliard said he has always had them at the forefront of his decisions, “My biggest fear has always been to disappoint the people of Runnels County.” He spoke of the fact that the county spends the taxpayer money it receives, “I am a manager of the taxpayer’s money. I take this very seriously and it has been a constant consideration in every decision that the commissioners and I took it. ” One point on which he commented concerns the decisions rendered by the Court of Commissioners: “We do not always agree, but we always have the best interests of the taxpayers at heart”.
The Tax Assessment District and Hilliard have worked together over the years and his upcoming retirement hasn’t changed a thing. “I have always worked closely with the tax assessment office. I’m about to send a budget and want to know what the assessment tax values are going to be. I’m a taxpayer like everyone else in the county. Decisions affect me as a farmer and rancher like everyone else. You have to understand how each decision will affect the general public. The court of commissioners is very careful about how we spend these public funds. ” We study everything carefully when it comes to funding. “
Perhaps in the end, Hilliard’s philosophy as a farmer and rancher, and as a member of Parliament and judge, best boils down to a simple rule that he lives and rules by: “He doesn’t. there is no right way to do a bad thing ”.
Judge Hilliard is 70, and while he’s hanging up his robe, he’ll always be wearing those cowboy spurs that work on the family farm.
Hilliard is retiring on May 31. There is a special meeting of the court of commissioners on Tuesday, May 11 to consider nominations to fill his position. The tribunal will make a selection at a special meeting on May 17.