Garza sworn in as Cameron County sheriff

Newly elected Cameron County Sheriff Eric Garza is sworn in Friday, Jan. 1, 2021,. Eric's mother Guadalupe Garza pins a new Cameron County Sheriff Badge on him in front of the Cameron County Sheriff's Department in Olmito, Texas. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Braving the cold weather of Friday, mask-wearing attendees witnessed the swearing in ceremony of newly elected Cameron County Sheriff Eric Garza and the more than 120 deputies who will work with him as he takes over the department.

With his parents Guadalupe and Jose Garza, and daughter Valeria, standing next to him Garza was sworn in minutes after 3 p.m. by Cameron County Justice of the Peace Pct. 2, Pl. 2, Jonathan Gracia. The more than 120 deputies started to be sworn in at midnight and finished during the ceremony.

“Thank you for being here. First and foremost, I want to thank Sheriff Omar Lucio for his many years of service to Cameron County and I wish him the best,” Garza told the audience.

“Second, I want to thank my family. They’ve been my backbone during this election. … my friends, my supporters, but most importantly the citizens of Cameron County who elected a new sheriff, who wanted a new vision, who wanted a new administration. It’s 2021, there’s a new administration and there is a new sheriff; together we can move forward and move Cameron County into the next century.”

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, the Herald reported in November.

Gracia said he is very proud of Garza and described him as a person of honor who cares about the county.

“I’ve known Eric for a considerable amount of time now, as an elected official we’ve come to know each other and what it is we stand for and also the interest that we have in order to move Cameron County forward,” he said.

“What I know about this man who is now going to take the post of Cameron County Sheriff is that he is a person of honor, he is a person that has the best interests of Cameron County and the citizens at heart.”

Garza unseated 19-year incumbent Sheriff Omar Lucio in the primary runoff election to secure the nomination on the Democratic Party ticket back in July. He then went on to run against Republican candidate and former Indian Lake Police Department Chief John Chambers. Garza defeated Chambers with 60 percent of the votes.

“It’s been a long journey, we worked very hard,” Garza said.

“Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, the campaigning took longer than it should have, but we were very concerned about our voters, the citizens of Cameron County and I understand why it happened. I’m very happy that the outcome was in our favor, there’s a new administration and we are going to work diligently to not let our citizens down.”

Garza thanked his supporters for trusting him and for voting for him and said he will work very hard to move the county forward. When asked for a message for those who did not vote for him, he said they can all still work together.

“Even though they did not support me , I know that we can work together to make a better future for the citizens and children of Cameron County,” he said

Garza said the staff at the jail are the foundation because they make a strong administration. He said it is important to ensure their health and safety is taken care of.

“We want to make sure that we bring technology to our deputies to keep them safe and to keep them healthy,” he said,

“I think our deputies and employees, our jailors and administration, the staff at the jail are the foundation; they make us a strong administration and we need to make sure that their health and safety is taken care of and that they have a living wage to be able to take care of their families.”

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com