Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.
Grayson County Commissioners selected Brett Smith as the interim Grayson County District Attorney Tuesday to temporarily fill the spot left open when Joe Brown left to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. Brown’s unexpired term through 2020 will ultimately be filled by the election in November.
Currently Smith has filed to run for the seat for the Republicans and Pamela McGraw has filed as a Democrat.
Smith said Tuesday that Kerye Ashmore will go back to being the First Assistant District Attorney after having served temporarily as the interim District Attorney.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the selection came after the commissioners put together a selection process that they modeled after criteria set in place for state and federal appointments.
When word of Brown’s appointment to the federal prosecutor’s position first broke back in November, both Smith, an assistant district attorney, and Britton Brooks, also an ADA, announced they were running for the Republican nomination to fill Brown’s unexpired term. But the filing deadline for the primary came and went without word on Brown’s confirmation, so neither Brooks or Smith were on the ballot. In February, Republican party Precinct Chair seats became the hottest items on the March ticket when people realized that the precinct chairs would likely pick the person for the November ballot in the district attorney race. The commissioners put together an application for the interim district attorney spot and both Kerye Ashmore and Brett Smith completed the application. Then Brown was confirmed and sworn in as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas in April.
In late March, Brooks dropped out of the race for the district attorney spot and then Ashmore dropped out of contention for the interim spot.
“For the past 15 years, Mr. Smith has faithfully and often quietly served Grayson County as a special prosecutor for the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office," Magers said in introducing Smith to the crowd Tuesday. "He has also served in the federal court system as an A-list attorney,”
Commissioner Phyllis James moved to make Smith the interim district attorney and Commissioner Jeff Whitmire seconded it. McGraw also approved of the move when asked about it Tuesday.
“I think this is the best for the county because that office needs someone to lead it right now in the interim,” she said. “This takes away any ambiguity regarding the policies that are in place and who is responsible for policy decisions. I look forward to challenging those policies in the upcoming election."
After being sworn in, Smith said it has been "an unconventional road” to get to that point.
“It has been a roller coaster ride," he said, and thanked his wife, Shelley, and sons for their unwavering support, as well as the support from former Grayson County Sheriff Keith Gary, and former Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum.
Smith praised his brother, Scott Smith, for teaching him how to be a lawyer and Ashmore for teaching him how to be a prosecutor. He also praised Sherman Attorney Clyde Siebman for helping him with the election.
“I’ve gotten to know Clyde Siebman a little better over the course of the past few months and I am just humbled to be able to be around the man," Brett Smith said. "He has done a lot for the Republican Party in Grayson County.”
In closing his remarks, he said he hopes to focus a lot more on juvenile and Child Protective Services cases.
“Because if we can save those children, they will not be in Tom Watt’s jail,” Brett Smith said of the Grayson County sheriff.
He said he plans to focus on serving both law enforcement and crime victims. And he wants to keep violent repeat offenders off the streets.