Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Keith Baker turned in a letter of resignation yesterday, announcing he'll retire from his 30-year career on the bench at the end of the year. County Commissioners will appoint his replacement for the remainder of his four-year term, which ends in 2014. Baker won reelection easily in 2010, with almost 69 percent of the vote, against Democrat William Peche.
As WOAI Trouble Shooter and PdA contributor Brian Collister has reported, Baker's resignation follows a public fight with the Commissioners over a staff position that was cut as part of last year's budget process. Baker's office drastically cut the number of warrants it issued during the past year, and made no secret of the fact that it was in response to the staff reduction. But even without the downsized clerk, Baker oversaw the largest JP staff in the county, at 17.