County Judge to leave office early

Published on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 23:23 - Written by Faith Harper, fharper@tylerpaper.com

Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches announced she is leaving office earlier than expected for a new opportunity as a liaison between counties and state government officials.

Judge Koches served the county for 10 years, but lost her most recent bid for re-election to Van Zandt Count Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Don Kirkpatrick. The official change was to take place in January. Her last day is Friday, according to a statement.

Judge Koches was appointed County Judge in 2004 when she was serving as chief of staff for state Rep. Dan Flynn. She served as city secretary for the city of Canton for five years and was a certified legal assistant for almost 20 years.

She accepted a position with the Texas Association of Counties working with their legislative department.

“For several years, TAC has organized a core legislative group made up of elected county officials across the state. I’ll be working with those folks in developing relationships with their respective state senators, state representatives and congressmen,” she said in a statement. “We want our legislators to recognize the resource they have in TAC and in their local elected officeholders.”

Judge Koches said she is excited about the new opportunity, which will allow her to combine her work experience into one endeavor.

“I’m excited about moving into something that is a combination of everything I’ve done in the past,” she said. “It’s going to be legislative, but (also) deal with other elected county officials across the state, so I’ll get to drive around the state and visit all my friends.”

She said the county has made a lot of progress in 10 years.

“I’m extremely proud of the progress we’ve made here in Van Zandt County in the last 10 years,” she said. “We’ve gone from cash flow issues and short-term borrowing in the form of tax anticipation notes to a projected positive fund balance of over $200,000 for (fiscal year) 2014.”

County commissioners will vote on whether to appoint Kirkpatrick into the county judge seat early or appoint an interim to serve until January.