Garza defeats Omar Lucio; Ex-district clerk secures 57% of vote

Erik Garza stands with his supporters while campaigning for Cameron County Sheriff Tuesday in a runoff election outside the polling location at Burns Elementary. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Former Cameron County district clerk Eric Garza unseated 19-year incumbent Sheriff Omar Lucio in the primary runoff election to secure the nomination on the Democratic Party ticket Tuesday night.

By 9:30 p.m., unofficial results with 100% of precincts reporting showed Garza had collected 11,670 votes, or 57.07% of the total, securing his spot as the Democratic nominee. Sheriff Lucio won 8,777 votes, ending the race with almost 43% of the vote.

Following Tuesday’s win, Garza will face off against John Chambers, the candidate for sheriff on the Republican ticket and former chief of the Indian Lake Police Department.

Garza said campaign staff doubled down on their canvassing efforts after the close primary race last spring.

“We worked harder, we block walked, we went out and made sure we met the voters — the ones that represent the county. There are a lot of cities in Cameron County, they’re all diverse, and everyone has a different need and want. We made sure that we went out to find out what they needed and talk to them,” he said.

Garza served as District Clerk for approximately five years and said his administrative experience at the county gives him unique insight into what needs to be fixed.

“The Sheriff’s Office is $31 million of over a $100 million budget,” he said.

“Unfortunately at the jail, the administration has cost the county millions of dollars — not only in the past five years, but in the past since the current administration. I want to have financial stability, make sure we’re accountable to the voters, make sure that our deputies are trained, make sure that we have a jail that’s in compliance, and that we provide the protections to the citizenry.”

Garza plans a dedicated approach to both staff and inmate safety as county officials respond to the fallout of the novel coronavirus.

“At the jail, you have individuals who are in there and they’re serving a sentence, so we need to be proactive,” he explained.

“In terms of training, we need to provide our deputies PPE to ensure they’re healthy. They work eight hour shifts — if we have to provide them with a separate place where they can live or sleep so that they are protecting themselves and their family, then we’ll have to find ways,” he said.

Outside Burns Elementary on Tuesday afternoon, Lucio took a moment to speak with reporters. The sheriff held his office for almost two decades and campaigned on that experience.

He expressed desire to continue the work his administration has pursued across those 19 years, finish ongoing projects, and serve the public in the most efficient way possible.

“I think the Sheriff’s Office right now is one of the best in the State of Texas,” he said. “I’d like to stay here and continue to help — especially those that don’t have the means, people that don’t have the education to know what to do — those are the people that really need my service, and I have been providing that for many, many years.”

Lucio thanked his supporters for allowing him to run again.

“I want to thank the people — I wish I could give each of them a handshake or a big embrace. Unfortunately, we can’t do that, but I will continue to work as hard as in the past, or harder if I possibly can, to try to accomplish as much as we can in the next few years,” he said before results came in.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com