Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn wants your vote, even though he is the only candidate seeking the office in the Republican Party primary runoff. Blackburn’s would-be opponent in the May 24 runoff election, James Schilling, withdrew from the race last month. However, Schilling’s name remains on the ballot and if Blackburn doesn’t receive the most votes, he won’t be able to return as sheriff. Cindy Ware, elections administrator for Llano County, said if Schilling wins he will be the Republican nominee. If Schilling wins the May 24 runoff and withdraws, and there is no independent candidate, Ware said the county commissioners will appoint an interim sheriff. If Schilling wins the May 24 runoff and withdraws, and there is an independent candidate, Ware said the independent candidate will become sheriff. “I would encourage you to get out and vote if you want me to be the sheriff,” Blackburn said. Blackburn is in his second term as sheriff, after serving as a game warden for 36 years. “I ran for sheriff because I wanted to be sheriff...I would like to continue for another four years,” he said at last Thursday’s Llano Tea Party candidate forum. When asked about increases for deputies, Blackburn said they were essential. He said Burnet County has increased deputy pay by $4,000 per year and will increase it another $4,000. He also said pay has gone up in San Saba County and in Fredericksburg. “I have four deputies that have applications in elsewhere,” he said. When asked about salaries for deputies, Blackburn said starting pay in Llano County is $38,600 or $17.39 per hour. Burnet County currently starts its pay at $19 per hour.
The sheriff also said a normal county employee works 2,080 hours per year, while those in law enforcement work 2,223 hours per year. It exempts deputies from overtime unless they work more than 173 hours in a 28-day period, he said.
“It allows us to have better coverage with fewer people,” he said.
According to Blackburn, the Llano County Sheriff’s Office filed 235 felony cases in the last fiscal year with 30 or 31 officers, compared to Burnet County’s 137 felony cases filed with 47 officers.
“The officers in Llano County do an excellent job,” Blackburn said.
The sheriff said most of the calls for service come from the east side of the county.
“I get criticized for spending a lot of time in Kingsland, Buchanan and Tow,” Blackburn said. “Eighty-six percent of our calls are in the east part of the county, 86 percent is east of Hwy. 16.”
When asked about the county’s new vehicle policy, Blackburn said he has problems with it.
Blackburn said the sheriff was elected and responsible to the people, and added “I’m not responsible to the commissioners court.”
He said the commissioners aren’t supposed to run his office and it is independent of them.
“The constitution, and this was upheld by the Fifth Circuit, says that the sheriff in a Texas county is the final authority when it relates to law enforcement,” Blackburn said. “I can write policy, rules and regulations in my department and they’re not subject to county approval or commissioners approval.”
In closing comments, Blackburn said he wants to be sheriff for a third term.
“I want to continue as sheriff because I care about the people in this community and I care about the men and women who work in the sheriff’s office,” he said. “We have some very dedicated individuals who sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve.”

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