GOP sheriff’s candidates look ahead to runoff

As the standout frontrunners for the Republican Cameron County Sheriff’s race in last Tuesday’s primary election, Victor Cortez and former Indian Lake police chief John Chambers are headed for the runoff election in May.

Cortez and Chambers were the top two candidates out of four, which included Robert Rodriguez and Michael Watkins.

Final election numbers detailed Chambers lead over Cortez with 3,395 votes to 2,662, respectively. Because neither candidate managed to get 50 percent plus one vote, they are forced into a runoff.

Chambers said he was excited about his edge over Cortez.

“I’m very excited about it,” Chambers said. “It shows that the people will decide who will be the next sheriff and not the compadre system.”

Cortez was thankful to remain in the race but was dismayed to have been bested by Chambers.

“It is a sad state of affairs when uninformed voters vote for a convicted felon,” Cortez said.

In January, Chambers was sentenced to five years probation after a jury found him guilty on 14 counts of tampering with government records. Chambers said he is currently appealing the guilty verdict and said he believes his commitment to the race despite his legal battles attracts voters.

“I believe this will affect my campaign in the positive sense because it shows I will standup against corruption and won’t back down when people make false allegations or use their position to try to take out their opponent,” Chambers said.

“It’s all in appeals, I’m not on probation, I haven’t been convicted until the appellate process is over. Hopefully, the court will look at the facts and see the truth,” Chambers said.

Cortez said he hopes voters will consider his record when heading to the polls in May.

“It’s not a good image for Cameron County . If we want to get rid of corruption in Cameron County , we need to look at people with impeccable records. We had four candidates running and three had very good records,” Cortez said.

The winner of May’s runoff race will face incumbent Sheriff Omar Lucio, the Democratic candidate. Lucio first held the office for one term in 1997 and was elected back into office in November 2004. He has held the office ever since.