Early voting is underway in Tarrant County. The ballot is filled with consequential races for local positions. 

The actual jobs and duties of these elected officials are less clear. The Fort Worth Report compiled information on each of the county offices up for election, and outlined some key issues for the most important local offices.

You can get a sample of your ballot before you head into the voting booth by typing in your name and date of birth here.

Looking for more info on Tarrant County elections?

The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 11. Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 24 and lasts through Friday, Nov. 4. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Find your polling location here.

You can read more stories about the upcoming election by heading to the Fort Worth Report’s election central.

County Commissioner 

The Tarrant County Commissioners Court consists of five members, including four county commissioners representing individual precincts. The commissioners have both precinct-specific and county-wide duties. They are elected to four-year terms. 

Two precincts will be on the ballot: Precinct 2, including southeast Tarrant County, and Precinct 4, including northwest Tarrant County.

The commissioners vote on items brought to the commissioners court, including the budget and contracts for county services. Each commissioner is also responsible for funding the construction and maintenance of County roads within their precinct.

The commissioners also double as liaisons to various boards and commissions, including the Hospital District.

Commissioners work alongside the county judge to manage overcrowding in the county’s jails and oversee the budgeting process. As the county grows, roads and transportation outside of the county’s major cities have also grown in importance. 

County judge 

The county judge is the presiding officer of the commissioners court. Despite the position’s name, it has no judicial duties. Instead, county judges are similar to a mayor or chief executive officer of the county. They are elected to a four-year term.

County Commissioner 

The Tarrant County Commissioners Court consists of five members, including four county commissioners representing individual precincts. The commissioners have both precinct-specific and countywide duties. They are elected to four-year terms. 

Two precincts will be on the ballot: Precinct 2, including southeast Tarrant County, and Precinct 4, which includes northwest Tarrant County.

The commissioners vote on items brought to the commissioners court, including the budget and contracts for county services. Each commissioner is also responsible for funding the construction and maintenance of county roads within their precinct.

The commissioners also double as liaisons to various boards and commissions, including the Hospital District.

Commissioners work alongside the county judge to manage overcrowding in the county’s jails and oversee the budgeting process. As the county grows, roads and transportation outside of the county’s major cities have also grown in importance. 

County judge 

The county judge is the presiding officer of the commissioners court. Despite the position’s name, it has no judicial duties. Instead, county judges are similar to a mayor or chief executive officer of the county. This position is a four-year term.

Key duties of the county judge include overseeing county departments and working with elected officials — Tarrant County has 69 elected officials. The Tarrant County Judge, along with county commissioners, also manages the county’s budget and works with the leaders of the cities and municipalities in the county. The county judge also oversees other key functions of the county, including elections and public health

The next county judge will grapple with a county jail experiencing overcrowding, a clogged juvenile justice system and consistent challenges to the integrity of Tarrant County elections; the leader serves on the county’s election board alongside the elections administrator and chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties. 

Criminal district attorney 

The Criminal District Attorney’s Office is the largest law firm in Tarrant County. The Criminal District Attorney’s office prosecutes cases but also provides investigatives services in narcotics, economic crimes, and crimes against children. The district attorney, who heads the office, is elected to a four-year term. 

Tarrant County’s district attorney serves as both a state criminal district attorney and county attorney. The district attorney’s office also operates a Victim Assistance Program and a Family Violence Court. The county also operates a deferred prosecution program. The program gives young, first-time offenders an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves without a criminal conviction. 

Lawyers in the office’s civil division act as general counsel for all of Tarrant County’s elected officials and appointed administrators, providing legal advice to the officials. 

The district attorney’s office has over 300 employees, including over 150 lawyers. Tarrant County does not have a public defender’s office. 

The next district attorney will grapple with the high-profile trial of Aaron Dean, the Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson about three years ago. The trial has been delayed multiple times. Crime is also up in Fort Worth, according to the Fort Worth Police Department’s 2022 first quarter crime report

District judge 

District courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction of Texas. That means they are the go-to court for felony criminal cases, divorce cases, cases involving titles to land, election contest cases, civil matters in which the amount of money or damages involved is $200 or more. They are elected to a four-year term. 

A district judge is responsible for hearing and determining motions including motions for new trial, petitions for injunctions and decisions in all preliminary matters. District judges also render judgment on those cases. 

There are four types of district courts: criminal, civil, family and juvenile courts. 

District clerk 

The District Clerk manages the operations of Tarrant County’s 27 district courts that hear civil, family and criminal cases. They manage the court’s records and the money for court fees and fines collected across the county. The district clerk is elected for a four-year term. 

The office also processes applications for U.S. passports. 

County clerk 

The county clerk keeps track of the records in Tarrant County. This includes real property records, records of commissioners court proceedings, foreclosure notices, vital records (birth, marriage and death certificates) and civil court records. They are elected to a four-year term. 

The county clerk is also empowered to collect fees for services provided to the public, such as issuing certificates. The amount of fees and fines collected make this office the second largest revenue generator for Tarrant County.

County criminal court 

County criminal courts have original jurisdiction over criminal cases involving Class A and Class B misdemeanors. That means that they are the go-to court for more serious minor offenses. 

The courts also hear appeals from justice of the peace and municipal courts.  

County probate court 

Larger counties, such as Tarrant County, have probate courts that have original and exclusive jurisdiction over their counties’ probate matters, guardianship cases, and mental health commitments. 

Probate matters include the execution of wills as well as the handling of estates, conservatorships, and guardianships. 

Justice of the Peace

Justice of the Peace courts hear civil cases, limited to under $20,000. Justices also preside over many different types of misdemeanor criminal cases, such as traffic and other Class C misdemeanors punishable by fine only. 

They also perform marriage ceremonies and serve four-year terms.

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for fortworthreport.org. She can be reached at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Rachel Behrndt

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for fortworthreport.org. She can be reached at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org