Burnet County JP3 Peggy Simon not seeking re-election

Peggy Simon

Burnet County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Peggy Shell Simon announced last week she will not be seeking re-election to the position she has held since January 1991.

Simon made the announcement Thursday night at the Lakes Republican Club. At least two candidates have announced they want to succeed Simon – former Marble Falls mayor pro Tem and local real estate broker Jane Marie Hurst, and Jeff Sellers, a volunteer firefighter who also has a background in mediation, emergency management, private investigations and law enforcement.

Efforts to reach Simon, who was out of town at a conference Monday, were unsuccessful, but both Hurst and Sellers expressed their appreciation for the longtime public servant.

For the past 27 years, she has done a very good job and she has been a mentor to me,” Hurst said. “The direction she has led that office and the satisfaction she has given the people's court speaks volumes.”

My past experiences as an elected official and in the legal industry leads me to want to help the people as a JP,” Hurst added.

She is a very sweet lady and she has always had compassion in dealings with people in court and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for serving county this long,” Sellers said.

Sellers said he was originally not interested in running for office, but had a number of people encouraged him to do so.

I prayed about it and I felt called to do it, and when I made the announcement, there was an overwhelming amount of support for me,” he said. “I feel like my experience in the past has prepared me for this moment.”

Simon was first elected justice of the peace in 1990 and took office on Jan. 1, 1991. She is the longest-tenured justice of the peace in Burnet County.

She was involved in one of the more unusual cases in Burnet County history in 2004, when Leander resident Clayton Daniels and his wife Molly concocted a scheme to fake Clayton Daniels' death so he could avoid serving jail time as a sex offender. The couple exhumed the body of an 81-year-old Charlotte Davis and burned it in a car to make it look like an automobile accident.

The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office originally misidentified the body as being that of Clayton Daniels, but Simon, who had ordered the autopsy, noticed several discrepancies, including the absence of male genitalia, the lack of soot in the lungs of an individual who had allegedly died in a car fire and the lab mistaking formaldehyde in the bladder for urine.

Clayton Daniels ended up being sentenced to 20 years in prison for insurance fraud, 15 years for arson and 10 years for desecration of a cemetery in addition to his 20 year sentences for aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by sexual contact. He is currently housed in the Wallace Unit. Molly Daniels pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and hindering apprehension and was sentenced to 20 years in prison as well.

Simon was also party to a lawsuit brought in 2008 by one of her former opponents, Precinct 3 resident Phil Peeples, as well as former Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace James McElroy, because she was holding court at the Burnet County South Annex in Marble Falls, which was outside her jurisdiction.

Once Burnet County reached more than 30,000 population, it became mandatory according to state law for JPs to hold court within their own jurisdiction. The county was looking for space in Precinct 3 at the time; the lawsuit was later dropped and the county moved Simon's office to a rented space in Precinct 3.

In 2011, the commissioners court redrew precinct lines, moving the Precinct 3 boundaries so that Simon's courtroom could be relocated back to the Marble Falls annex. The annex was divided between Precincts 3 and 4 so both JP offices could be located there.

Peggy Simon is a graduate of Lampasas High School and has been married to Archie Simon for more than 38 years. The couple have two grown children, Jessica and David.

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