Three elected county officials leave office come January with a combined 55 years of public service to residents of Collin County.
Keith Self, County Judge
County Judge Keith Self took office in January 2008, a 5th-generation Texan and West Point graduate who brought 25 years of experience in the U.S. Army officer as he presided over Collin County Commissioners Court.
During his three terms, Judge Self and his colleagues on the court reduced the county tax rate six times in 10 years, and created a homestead exemption. Live-streaming video of Commissioners Court meetings started up, along with archived video tied to county documents and other Commissioners Court records for public viewing.
Across the way at the courthouse, a new court management system launched that linked courts, prosecutors and law enforcement records into one tidy -- and secure -- digital vault. Three state District Courts and one County Court at Law were brought on, and specialized court programs like Drug Court and Veterans Court were created for closer, more personal monitoring of non-violent offenders in an effort to help them stay out of jail.
On county roads, asphalt reclamation equipment was brought on to recycle road-paving material, cut costs and speed up road repairs in rural areas. Meanwhile, building projects included a new courthouse and courthouse annex, an administration building, and plans for new Justice of the Peace and Constable offices in Lavon for Precinct 2.
"I want to thank the department heads and the elected officials for making this such an efficient organization," Judge Self said. "My overwhelming emotion is satisfaction: We might have done more, but I have to say we had a tremendous 12 years serving Collin County."
John Payton, Justice of the Peace, Pct. 3-2
Justice of the Peace John Payton won his first general election in 1990 at age 18, making him the world's youngest judge. When he first filed to run for justice of the peace of Precinct 3-2, he was a senior at Plano East Senior High, and campaigned door to door after school and on weekends.
He was re-elected to the four-year office six more times.
Judge Payton's years of work with truancy and juvenile delinquency in his own precinct turned into the driving force behind the establishment of the county's Teen Court program in 2006 by Commissioners Court.
Scott J. Becker, State District Judge
State District Judge Scott J. Becker, appointed to the 219th District Court bench in October 2010 by Gov. Rick Perry, when Judge Curt Henderson retired. Judge Becker served the remainder of that term and was elected to office in 2014.
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Becker served as a felony prosecutor under longtime District Attorney John Roach, joining the DA's office in May 2003.
Judge Becker is a member of the State Bar of Texas, Collin County Bar Association and Collin County Young Lawyers Association. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas and a law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law, and is board certified in Family Law.