Garza wins Cameron County sheriff’s race

It looks like there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Eric Garza.

The peace officer and former district clerk, who beat longtime Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio in the July Democratic primary election, went on to run against Republican candidate and former Indian Lake Police Department Chief John Chambers.

Tuesday night’s unofficial election tally, with 91 percent of precincts reporting, had 58,568 total votes (60.9 percent) for Garza compared to 37,580 (39 percent) for Chambers. The totals include early voting and Election Day results. Chambers received 31,962 early votes, or 39.2 percent, compared to 49,567 or 60.8 percent for Garza.

The numbers do not include mail in ballots.

Garza ran his campaign on a platform of financial accountability, compliance with state jail standards, and deputy salaries, while also pointing out that the sheriff’s department currently lacks internal affairs and public integrity divisions. Garza also said he would prioritize the installation of body cameras and dash cams and also develop the departmental infrastructure necessary for handling large amounts of electronic data, noting that case files are still on paper.

He said that if elected he would work with schools and community organizations to promote transparency and rebuild trust with vulnerable communities. Garza’s peace office license is currently held by Constable Precinct 4 in the Los Fresnos area.

He credited his election win to what he believes is a desire for change among county residents.

“They showed they wanted change in the primary election,” Garza told the Herald Tuesday night. ” They went out in this pandemic and showed it by voting for my campaign. I want to thank Sheriff Lucio for his many years of service to Cameron County. I want to wish Mr. Chambers the best in his future endeavors, and I want to thank the voters for believing in me and casting the votes for our platform and what we want to bring to Cameron County.”

Chambers, whose peace officer license is currently in legal limbo, said during the campaign that his experience in dealing with tough situations as a law enforcement office made him the best choice for sheriff, while pledging to bring in new staff and initiatives. Chambers said he would bolster the department’s technology but also “adhere to the old tried and true concept of community policing.”

He also cited the need to “get back in touch with the public” and for the creation of community relations programs.