Todd Little started his first day as Ellis County Judge at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. He ended it at about around 9 p.m., some 12-or-so hectic hours later.
“I’m kind of drinking water from a fire hose right now,” Little remarked.
Yet Little said he felt nothing but excitement for Ellis County’s future.
“It was just great,” he added. “It was really fun and exciting to get back in with the Robert’s Rules of Order.”
Little was officially sworn in as Ellis County Judge at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Ellis County Courthouse. While the commissioners’ court meeting Wednesday was his first official meeting to preside over as county judge, Little noted that, since he didn’t post that agenda, he considered it more of a special meeting. He said the first meeting agenda that he will post would be for next week’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
“It was pretty easy,” Little said. “It was just a little bit more technical in nature.”
Among the agenda items approved were $1.2 million in payroll for the allotted pay period, a discussion and purchasing for road and bridge materials and a change order from Gomez Flooring for third-floor renovations.
Although the meeting was short, Little said he was just happy to hold and use a gavel again in a court setting.
“It’s something I’ve done many times before as Mayor of Red Oak,” Little expressed. “It was exciting. It was a big courtroom, kind of like being in a movie.”
During his swearing-in ceremony, Little said one of his earliest priorities would be the use of county facilities. He commented that the Ellis County Treasurer’s Office should be returned to the historic courthouse, where it can be near associated departments such as purchasing or accounts payable.
“Why would a function such as payroll for nearly 550 employees be away from the other key financial functions?” Little remarked at the ceremony.
However, Little prefaced that he couldn’t decide that on his own. During a commissioners’ court meeting Dec. 18, commissioners approved a motion to move power of office space management from the county judge to the commissioners' court. Because of this, county space management is now a commissioners’ court decision – not just a county judge’s.
Even so, Little explained that isn’t a significant obstacle to his office goals. In fact, he appreciates the opportunity to work with the commissioners and come to mutual compromises that benefit Ellis County.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to collaborate and work on a team-based approach with the commissioners,” Little explained. “I look forward to bringing our recommendations with facilities management to the commissioners. I feel they’ll see why we’re doing things and they’ll support us all the way.”
Little also remarked on a promise he made on the campaign trail to return commissioners’ court meetings to the evening instead of the morning. He said he hopes to bring that forward to the court for consideration sooner rather than later and is aiming for the commissioners’ court meeting later this month on Jan. 15.
“It’s also possible we’ll have a discussion between now and then related to the opening of the courthouse doors,” Little remarked.
Little said residents have come up to him about also potentially removing the metal detectors from the courthouse as well. But not only is Little hesitant about taking away a safety feature from the courthouse – he said he doesn’t think he’d get support from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office on that motion either.
“We’ve got a bullet hole on the first floor in one of the doors that happened in the 1920s,” Little remarked. “We don’t want any bullet holes in the doors up here. There’s just too many things coming off the streets and into government buildings these days.”
Little said there’s a lot of work to be done in the coming months and much that he and the commissioners’ court will have to work on. But he said he’s prepared for it, and he looks forward to serving the people of Ellis County as best he can.
“We just have to be smart, efficient, and buy the best that money with limited resources can buy,” he remarked. “I’m honored and humbled to be able to do it for the Ellis County citizens - the community which I’ve lived my entire life.”
Little’s next commissioners’ court as county judge will be 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8 at the Ellis County Courthouse.