Sep 23, 2022 - News

Army vet challenging judge who had him arrested

A photo of campaign signs in Collin County
These signs are all over Collin County. Photo courtesy of Cormac West

An Army veteran arrested during a 2021 Collin County Commissioners meeting is running for county judge, challenging the man who called for his arrest.

Why it matters: If elected, Joshua Murray, a retired Army staff sergeant, would be the most powerful elected official in one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. The office oversees everything from emergency response to critical infrastructure.

  • Murray, running as a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Judge Chris Hill, who had Murray arrested for contempt during a May 2021 meeting, after Murray passionately criticized how county leadership handled Marvin Scott III's death at the county jail.

The big picture: Murray has become a fixture at Collin County Commissioners meetings over the last two years. He says he started attending because he was concerned about the operational rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Murray has also demanded better pay for entry-level detention officers and dispatchers.
  • Hill defeated his Democratic opponent by more than 14 points in 2018, and his website claims he has more than 3,700 endorsements. (Hill didn't respond to requests for comment.)

What they're saying: Murray got involved in Collin County politics after retiring from the Army in 2014. "When I came back from Afghanistan, the local government looked like the government I'd just left in Kandahar," he tells Axios.

  • He says his biggest priority would be filling the empty county positions, paying employees more and building infrastructure to prepare for ongoing growth in Collin County.

The intrigue: Murray's chances of unseating Hill might depend on top-of-the-ballot races. Collin County Republicans worry that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke could help turn the county blue.

What's next: Murray has requested two debates with Hill, though it's not clear whether they'll happen.

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