Kingsland JP resigns to follow her heart



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Former Llano County Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Era Lea Marion recently joined Eric, a retired naval officer, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to start their new life together.




By Connie Swinney
Staff Writer

When Era Lea Marion made up her mind to “follow her dream,” she knew she had raised the stakes for happy retirement.

Two weeks ago, she packed up her belongings and drove to live in South Carolina.

Her move was quite sudden to some people in the Kingsland area where she served for the past 13 years as justice of the peace for Llano County's precinct 3.

I'm following my heart and following a dream I had for 19 years,” she said. “I would call it a dream come true.”

In essence, her move made her ineligible to continue that position. Her frequent visits to the Palmetto State had tipped her hand to her co-workers, however.

About a year ago, she and some fellow county staff members attended a U.S. Navy reunion in Florida where she met Eric, a military retiree.

I will be 60 in October. He's a U.S. Navy retiree,” Marion said. “Eric and I met the first night, and we connected instantly.”

To get to know each other, she relayed to him her love for the state of South Carolina. She and her daughter, Mariah, visited there several years ago and she “fell in love.”

The people, the 'laid backness,' the beautiful scenery, the beach, the post office, the pier,” Marion said. “I told her one of these days I'm going to live here.”

She explained to Eric that her life's dream involved buying an RV upon retirement and moving to South Carolina to live.

We were just meeting,” she said. “He then said I live in Myrtle Beach and sell RVs.”

The unfamiliar environment appealed to her even as she continued to cultivate her roots in law enforcement, which first started where she grew up in Llano County.

As a young woman, Marion moved away from the area to pursue a career as a peace officer.

Her 38 years as a peace officer included stints with Williamson County and Bastrop County sheriff's offices.

She eventually returned to the Kingsland area and served as deputy with Llano County Sheriff's Office.

When my parents got older, I brought my kids back to Kingsland to work and raise them in a small town,” she said.

Inspired by former Llano County Sheriff Nathan Garrett, she ran for the office of justice of the peace after long-time JP Rudy Cunningham announced his retirement.

She continued to win re-election and became known for her no nonsense style as a judge.

As a deputy you turn your citation in and go into a courtroom. I had already been working with the court,” she said. “I also learned that as a deputy if you say please and thank you, you can get to the jail a lot easier.

People may come in mad and want to win their case, but not everybody wins,” she said.

After she was sworn in for a fourth term as justice of the peace in Jan. 1 of this year, she said she had suppressed what she felt might be her fate all along. . . .

Find the rest of this story in the Tuesday, July 30 issue of The Highlander, which covers news and features for the Highland Lakes. To offer a comment or news tip, email To subscribe, call 830-693-4367.

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