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Confusion in Midland County Commissioners Court leaves county with no officially appointed Sheriff

A special session to fill Sheriff Painter's vacancy ends with no action being taken

MIDLAND, Texas — Midland County Commissioners held a special session Friday that ended with a touch of controversy.

The only item on the agenda for this special session was a discussion and to take action to fill the vacancy of Sheriff Painter, who passed away unexpectedly after he was found unresponsive in his home Sunday morning. 

Commissioner Luis Sanchez spoke with NewsWest9 and stated that he made the initial motion to appoint current Chief Deputy, Rory McKinney as Sheriff, that motion was approved by County Judge Terry Johnson, but fell short with a vote of two for and three against.

Many in attendance stated that they believe it was Sheriff Painter’s desire that McKinney should be the next Sheriff of Midland County as he was hand picked by Painter to be his Chief Deputy.

A motion was then made by Commissioner Scott Ramsey to appoint Midland County Constable of Precinct 1 David Criner as the next Sheriff. 

This motion too came to vote, also failing in two to three votes.

County Judge Terry Johnson and Commissioner Luis Sanchez voted for McKinney.

Commissioners Scott Ramsey and Robert Donnelly voted for Criner.

Commissioner Randy Prude of Precinct 4 voted against both motions for McKinney and Criner, telling the court that being friends with and respecting both men, he found it difficult to choose one over the other.

Having not received enough votes to approve either appointments the court was left in a stalemate. 

According to Commissioner Sanchez, County Attorney Russel Malm explained to the court that according to standing law The current Chief Deputy, McKinney will now take on all of the duties and responsibilities of the position of Sheriff, but he will not receive the title of “Temporary” or “Acting Sheriff”. 

Unless the issue to fill the vacancy is raised again and receives enough votes to be approved in a future session, this will remain the situation until the next regular election where the citizens would then choose the next Sheriff of Midland County. 

Painter would have been up for re-election in March of 2020 and any new candidates will have to announce by the end of December of this year.

With tempers somewhat flared and confusion still lingering in the court, a motion to adjourn was made by Commissioner Sanchez and the special session came to a close with no action being made and noticeable frustration from the citizens in attendance.

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