HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Beverly Crumley has 30 years of experience in the Hays County District Clerk’s Office. In 2010, after working under several other district clerks, she decided to run for the position. She won that year and has held the position ever since.

“I’ve invested a lot of time,” Crumley said. “I have a lot of knowledge and experience… I’m just really prideful in the work that I’ve done here. So yeah, I’m really disappointed in the outcome,” Crumley said.

This year, Crumley ran for reelection and lost by just over two percentage points or around 2,500 votes. The candidate who Hays County voters elected to be their next district clerk spent $0 on his campaign, has no experience in a political office and only just recently graduated high school. His name is Avrey Anderson.

So why would Hays County residents choose Anderson over Crumley?

When asked about his campaign strategy, Anderson said he spent some time talking to potential voters outside the courthouse in San Marcos but posted no signs.

“A lot of people, generally speaking, just click a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ when they’re in the voting booth,” Anderson said.  

Crumley ran as a Republican, and Anderson as a Democrat. 

“I feel like a lot [of voters] did not research the local races to gain knowledge on the qualifications of the candidates,” Crumley said. “I think it is uninformed voters just making decisions based on political affiliation is what it is.” 

What does the district clerk do?

A Texas district clerk is the overseer of all filed district court lawsuits. They keep track of lawsuits from filing to conclusion and help prepare case records for suits that appear in front of a judge.

“That’s a bulk of what we do,” Crumley said. But not all.

A district clerk is also the financial officer of the district court and the jury manager. Among other responsibilities, Crumley said she also manages the court’s registry, preserves historical records and invests funds that minors win in lawsuits.

“It’s a big duty,” Crumley said. “This position is looked upon as being a leader. [It is] a go-to position that can offer guidance, not only to staff but to the filers themselves.”

“I’m saddened for the County, and I’m saddened for the legal community.”  

Hays County’s new district clerk

Avrey Anderson graduated from Dripping Springs High School in 2021. Before running for district clerk, Anderson worked full-time at a gas station down the road from his house where he lives with his mom.

Avrey Anderson poses for a photo with Beto O’Rourke, Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas. (Photo provided by Avrey Anderson)

Before that, Anderson worked shifts at his uncle’s restaurant on the weekends while going to high school. He said he helped with a campaign for his high school’s school board and has taken some online courses through the University of Texas at Austin’s OnRamps program. 

Anderson said he has been interested in politics since he was quite young. He has ambitions to run for Texas state office one day and thought it would be a good idea to start at the county level. 

“There are a lot of offices that you can run for at 18 years old. I thought the one that I [could] help the most, and the one that I could serve the public best, would be the office of the District Clerk,” he told KXAN.

Objectively, Anderson was not as experienced as Crumley was when she decided to run, but he feels confident going into the new role.  

“I believe I am ready to take on this office,” he said. “I’ve heard that 80% of your job success is your ability to deal with people. I think that I’m pretty well able to do that. And I also have this wonderful ideology called ‘asking questions.’ Always ask questions. If you need help, ask questions.”

Much of the current Hays County District Clerk Office staff may not be around to answer his questions when he starts though. Crumley said that the office is still fairly shocked by the results and may look for new jobs when Crumley does not return. 

Regardless, Anderson said he is ready for the challenge.

“In my opinion, if I work hard, I can really help my community and serve it better,” he said.

Crumley said she is still processing the news and is sad to leave the office. Since she has worked for Hays County for 30 years, she is eligible for retirement, which she said she is considering.

“When you run for office, you always have to know in the back of your mind it is a possibility your opponent could win… there are just some things you can’t control,” Crumley said.

“I don’t really know how I feel about it, because he was never anywhere that I was. No signs, no recognition of who he was. [It is a] little shocking to know that somebody could do pretty much nothing, as far as the campaign went, and still get [into office],” she said.

According to county documents, the Hays County District Clerk’s 2021 salary was just over $87,000.