County chief of staff makes sudden exit

by Sahar Chmais and Cyndy Slovak-Barton
Alex Villalobos, Hays County top aide to the commissioners court, resigned this week, according to Pct. 4 County Commissioner Walt Smith.
No formal announcement was made, but Smith said Villalobos was pursuing other options.
Villalobos told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch he has been recruited to another job, where he can continue to utilize his skillset while receiving a higher wage. He did not disclose any information about his new work.
No one will fill his position in the county, Villalobos said.
Instead of a new recruit, other staff members will take over different parts of Villalobos’  job duties.
Although this is the first time his resignation has been made public, Villalobos said it has been under discussion in the commissioners court for some time.
Villalobos was hired as County Judge Ruben Becerra’s right hand man when Becerra took the reins of the county after the 2018 General Election. Becerra defeated former county commissioner Will Conley, who was also running for the judge position.
Villalobos was hired as Becerra’s chief of staff, but the commissioners later changed his position so that he worked for the entire court, not just for Becerra.
Questions were raised at the time Villalobos was hired about whether he could remain as a Kyle city council member while taking the county administrator’s job.
Kyle ruled that it was not against its charter for Villalobos to hold both positions.
“… laws governing dual office holding and common law incompatibility as currently interpreted do not prevent him from serving both positions,” a statement from the city of Kyle said at the time. “Mr. Villalobos will need to recuse himself and disclose the reason for disclosure where required by the Ethics Ordinance.”
There were many ups and downs for Villalobos during his two-year tenure at the county. He worked to improve the criminal justice system, pushing for more efficiency in trial scheduling. He was assigned emergency service coordination and helped set up COVID-19 testing sites throughout the county.
But a national, nonprofit investigative service also reported that Villalobos – along with the county judge – was under investigation by state officials concerning irregularities and potential conflict of interest for promoting a for-profit company that sought to sell questionable COVID services to local and statewide residents.
The circumstances under which he left the Texas State police department, after allegations that he acted improperly to access information that may have related to corruption charges against his brother, resurfaced this past year, during his unsuccessful race for sheriff.
Villalobos denied doing anything wrong in both cases.

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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