Friends, former colleagues face off in November for district attorney seat

Democrat Joe Gonzales vs Republican Tylden Shaeffer

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - At one time, Joe Gonzales, Tylden Shaeffer and Nico LaHood all worked under then Bexar County District Attorney Steve Hilbig, never thinking someday they would be in a heated race for the same office.

Both Gonzales and Shaeffer went on to become defense attorneys and prosecutors themselves. Yet come November, the friends and former colleagues will be campaigning against each other. They want to fill the office that incumbent LaHood lost to Gonzales by a wide margin Tuesday night. 

Some political observers believe that since Shaeffer is a Republican, and Gonzales is a Democrat, the general election will be a red versus blue matchup.

“I think there’s a lot of truth to that,” Gonzales said. “I think our philosophies are going to be different.”

Shaeffer said he disagrees.

“If that’s where the voters want to go, then God help us,” Shaeffer said. “I think this is about Bexar County and helping us be a better place again.”

Both candidates said domestic violence will be a top priority.

Shaeffer said the current domestic violence unit has been “diluted.”

“You don’t have a dedicated chief” to oversee the unit, Shaeffer said.

“I think we need to assign more prosecutors. We need to be engaging victims and witnesses early on and not wait till the day before the trial,” Gonzales said.

But the candidates differ on the detain and release program initiated by the outgoing district attorney, where certain offenders would not be held behind bars.

Calling himself the “reform candidate,” Gonzales said he would expand the program and include more law enforcement agencies.

 “I believe that one size fits all doesn’t work. I think you have to look at each individual case,” Shaeffer said.

Both said the tone of the upcoming campaign won’t be like it was between Gonzales and LaHood before last night’s primary. They said voters can expect to hear more about the issues that affect them and their communities. 

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