GALVESTON -- Galveston County Commissioners Court has reduced the number of Justices of The Peace and Constable precincts from eight to four, cutting more than half of the county’s neighborhood courts and the corresponding constable precincts.
The biggest changes occur in southern Galveston County. The new Precinct 1 combines the previous Precinct 1, covering Galveston’s West End and represented by Justice of The Peace Jim Schweitzer, with the previous Precinct 4, which covers most of the western portion of the mainland and currently is represented by Mike Nelson.
The new Precinct 2 combines portions of the existing Precinct 2, represented by Penny Pope; Precinct 3, represented by Sonny James and Precinct 6, represented by Pat Vondra. The new Precinct 2 will include portions of La Marque, Texas City, Galveston and the entirety of the Bolivar Peninsula.
The existing nine JP's will continue to serve in their new districts until their terms expire.
There are eight precincts that include nine Justices of The Peace and eight Constables in the county. Precincts 8 and 2 are split into two JP courts.
The cuts are expected to save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and could reach $1 million.
Several Bolivar Penisula residents complained that combining their current precinct with others in Galveston and the mainland would put them at a loss. Getting to an island or mainland court building would be difficult for residents only connected to the rest of the county by the Bolivar ferry.
Others complained that by cutting the number of justices, the commissioners were taking away precious public access the JP courts were created to provide. Some worried that the commissioners were putting dollars ahead of the public good.