Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More Texas Criminal Justice Election Highlights

Having already analyzed yesterday's court races and the Tyler jail vote, I wanted to update readers on a few other high-profile, contested criminal justice-related races we've been discussing on this blog:

Sheriff arrested for cartel affiliations re-elected
For starters, I can't help but point out that Starr County voters re-elected Sheriff Reymundo Guerra, which would be unremarkable except that he was recently arrested for allegedly working as an informant and functionary for the infamous Mexico-based Gulf Cartel! Granted, he was running unopposed and there's not a "none of the above" option, but that's still pretty funny! Reported KVUE-TV, "Even if he technically wins re-election, the sheriff of Starr County is not expected to go back to work anytime soon."

New Sheriff in Harris, Still Counting DA's Race Votes
I already mentioned the Democrats' near-sweep in Harris County judicial races (Mark Bennett has more), but didn't point out that long-time GOP incumbent Tommy Thomas lost to Democratic challenger Adrian Garcia, an historic upset. That's as big a deal, arguably as important a moment in Harris County's political transformation as was Craig Watkins' upset of District Attorney Bill Hill in Dallas in 2006. Garcia is a former police officer and a Houston city councilmember.

Spoiling any pretensions of one-party dominance, however, former District Judge Pat Lykos, a Republican, appears to have pulled off a nailbiting upset over former Houston police chief Clarence Bradford in the Harris County District Attorney's race, possibly a result of voters' rocky memories of his tenure as Houston's top cop. Bradford has yet to concede, though, and there are still 10,000 uncounted provisional ballots; as of the most recently reported numbers, Lykos was ahead by around 5,000 votes.

Congratulations, Lupe, now fix the jail
In Dallas, Sheriff Lupe Valdez defeated her Republican challenger by a 55-45 margin with the help of higher than usual central city turnout, giving her four more years to figure out how to get the jail to pass inspection.

Step One: Don't Get Indicted for Bribery
In Bexar County, Democrat Amadeo Ortiz beat Republican Dennis McKnight (whom I favored for the job) for the Sheriff's post. From what I've seen, Ortiz doesn't seem nearly as focused on problems at the jail as I think he'll need to be, while McKnight is an acknowledged expert with a real handle on how to fix the jail's looming crises - only time will tell if Ortiz is up to the job. One thing in his favor: Ortiz replaces a man who resigned to avoid bribery charges, so the bar's been set pretty low.

Midland jail to expand
Somehow this one had flown under my radar screen, but Midland voters approved a $22 million bond to expand their jail. Even with no formal opposition the proposal wasn't overwhelmingly popular: "The bond passed with 54 percent of the votes — 22,762 versus 19,407."

West Coast Update
California voters sent a mixed message with their votes on the propositions we'd earlier discussed, voting down both the treatment-not-incarceration package (Prop 5) and a raft of new penalty increases (Prop 6), but agreeing to new limits on parole and defendants' access to evidence (Prop 9) - see the San Francisco Chronicle coverage and a summary of initiative results from the group Join Together. I guess California voters prefer their prisons overcrowded and dysfunctional, just like they are! Also Prop K, a muncipal ballot initiative in San Francisco which would have decriminalized prostitution, failed by a substantial margin.


Anonymous said...

You think Tyler's going to get a third high school? I figured one is mostly white, the other black, they could build one to put the brown people in...

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Anonymous said...

Good article posting. keep it up

Anonymous said...

Ortiz committed a crime while running for election, don't think he gets it. Single lever voting lost a lot of good canidates and elected officials in this state