While it took two tries, Dripping Springs area residents May 22 elected a new Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace into office for the first time in over a decade.
John Burns, a Navy veteran and practicing attorney, claimed a landslide victory over attorney Robert Avera in a runoff for the JP4 seat by capturing more than 60 percent of the vote. Results from the May 22 runoff were officially canvassed at Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting.
Burns, who has practiced law for more than 20 years, will take over for JP4 incumbent Terry Kyle, who opted to forgo reelection due to health reasons.
In March, four candidates vied to fill Kyle’s spot in the Republican primaries, with Burns capturing the most votes. However, the race went to a runoff as neither Burns nor Avera obtained more than 50 percent of the vote.
Burns said in both the primary and runoff election, he logged in “many hours of block walking,” along with mailers and utilizing a social media campaign through his political consultant, which he believed proved successful.
“I’m very pleased and I worked awfully hard on my campaign,” Burns said. “I’m thrilled to have won the runoff and I’m working to take over the JP4 seat in January (2019).”
One of the first things Burns said he plans to do is establish an effective outreach with local schools, as well as to work with students to address various issues.
He also plans to streamline the JP4 office and make it more efficient to accommodate the area’s rapid growth.
“This part of the county is growing fast and the case load will continue to increase, which reflects the growth of the Dripping Springs area,” Burns said.
Working with Kyle in preparation for the JP4 transition, as well as the five other Justices of the Peace, will also be of importance, Burns said. He has communicated with Kyle on several times and both men have a good relationship.
For Kyle, who readies for retirement, getting a front-row seat to the March primaries and May runoff was gratifying. It gave him a chance to sit back and watch as the JP4 race developed around him.
It also allowed him to watch as history developed in the JP4 race. Kyle said prior to taking office in 2006, the race for JP4 was “low key” and featured a handful of candidates.
The four vying for the JP seat in March were the most Kyle had seen in many years. He attributes the influx of candidates to the rapid growth of the precinct, as well as the subsequent growth in the workload.
“I was very fortunate, blessed and honored to have served 12 years knowing the people of Hays County,” Kyle said. “And particularly of Precinct Four, which put their trust in me for years. Know there is a great deal and honor and integrity in this office.”
Once the transition is complete in January 2019, Kyle said he plans to accomplish a number of things, such as taking care of his land in the Dripping Springs area. He also plans to take trips with his wife, as well as find time for more hunting and fishing.
“We’re going to be busy at doing what we enjoy doing and that’s being outside,” Kyle said.