Marialyn Barnard, a former 4th Court of Appeals justice, will serve as interim Bexar County commissioner for Precinct 3, Judge Nelson Wolff announced Tuesday.

Wolff said he received 27 written applications to fill the spot former Republican Commissioner Trish DeBerry effectively resigned when she filed to run for county judge last month.

Many applicants were qualified, he told reporters, but Barnard “was just … a step above everybody. “

Barnard, who will be the lone Republican on the five-member commissioners court, as DeBerry was, will serve through the end of 2022. If she is picked by the Bexar County Republican Party to run in the November general election, Barnard said she would be “honored” to vie for the vote.

There will be no March primary for Precinct 3; the local Democratic and Republican parties will choose who will be on the ballot in November.

“I look forward to learning more and taking action on the immediate needs and priorities of Bexar County,” Barnard said at the press conference announcing her appointment at the Bexar County Courthouse Tuesday. She was sworn in by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia; her first commissioners court meeting will be Jan. 11.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Barnard to the 4th Court of Appeals in 2009. She successfully ran in subsequent years to keep the seat but lost it in the 2018 election. The following year, she became vice president of product development for TXdocs, a legal software company. Barnard said she left the company last year — before the Precinct 3 seat opened up.

Several residents, whom she declined to name, encouraged her to apply, Barnard said.

She graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law and her résumé includes time at private law firms, CPS Energy and governmental offices as an attorney. Barnard was a high school and middle school teacher before becoming an attorney. She’s a member of several professional associations and serves on nonprofit boards, including the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind and Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Wolff said he was looking for someone familiar with county government, the judicial system and private sector industries as well as “somebody with independence and leadership qualities. … One person stood out.”

He said he wasn’t specifically looking for a Republican woman to replace DeBerry.

“I thought that, number one, let me find the very best qualified [candidate] — whether they’re a woman, whether they’re Republican, whether they’re a man, or whatever they are,” Wolff said. “I believe in bipartisanship. … I’m very happy to see that a good solid Republican stepped up and was willing to do the job.”

After DeBerry announced her campaign to fill his seat, Wolff originally planned to keep her on the court for 60 days in “holdover” status. Under pressure, however, he sped up the appointment process.

DeBerry, who said she had no say in the selection process, said she is pleased with Wolff’s decision to appoint Barnard.

“It’s a bittersweet day for me, obviously, because I loved this job,” DeBerry said. “I think [Barnard] is a stellar choice.”

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org