Election results 2020: Javier Salazar reelected as Bexar County Sheriff

(KSAT Vote 2020)
(KSAT Vote 2020)

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Candidate

Votes

%

Javier Salazar*(D)
454,52962%
Gerard C. "Gerry" Rickhoff(R)
278,81038%
*Incumbent
100% of Precincts Reporting

(302 / 302)

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Javier Salazar reelected as Bexar County sheriff

10:30 p.m.: Javier Salazar is now the first Bexar County sheriff to be reelected since 2004.

Salazar, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger Gerry Rickhoff.

As of 10:30 p.m., Salazar was ahead 62% to 38% with 54.3% of precincts reporting.

He opened with a strong lead after early voting numbers were released and was comfortably ahead throughout the evening.

It will be Salazar’s second term as the county’s top law enforcement officer after he spent more than two decades with the San Antonio Police Department.

7:15 p.m.: Javier Salazar is in the lead with early votes counted in his bid to become the first sheriff to be reelected in Bexar County since 2004.

Salazar, a Democrat, is ahead of his Republican challenger Gerry Rickhoff after early voting totals were released on Tuesday evening.

Salazar has received 407,436 votes compared to Rickhoff’s 246,098 votes.

Election Day votes are yet to be released, so the results could change. We’ll bring you more updates as they are available.

Background

Javier Salazar is seeking to become the first sheriff in Bexar County to be re-elected since 2004.

Salazar, 49, a Democrat, narrowly defeated Susan Pamerleau in the 2016 election. He faces Republican challenger Gerard “Gerry” Rickhoff in the November election.

Prior to winning four years ago, Salazar had never run for office, but had served 23 years with the San Antonio Police Department.

Rickhoff, 67, was the Bexar County clerk for 24 years before he decided to run for sheriff. Despite never holding a position in law enforcement, Rickhoff defeated veterans Willie Ng and Gary Garcia in the March primary without a runoff election.

Rickhoff has leaned into the criticism, saying that his lack of law enforcement experience is an asset. He said he would bring new ideas to the sheriff’s office and improve the morale of deputies. Rickhoff has also pledged to assist deputies with their mental health.

During his first term, Salazar dealt with many of the same challenges and issues that plagued the jail and sheriff’s office for years, including numerous arrests of deputies and jailers, mistaken releases of inmates, escapes and deaths at the jail.

Last year, the county jail also briefly fell out of state compliance after failing a Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspection.

Salazar has said the instability and turnover of the sheriff’s position dating to 2004 has been part of the problem, and he has already made strides to correct many issues.

Salazar said there is now a higher standard of hiring for deputies and jailers, and there are more safeguards in place to prevent accidental inmate releases.

He also points to his record of prosecuting and firing deputies who have been arrested and convicted for assault or drunken driving.

In response to Salazar’s efforts to curb drunken driving within the sheriff’s office, Rickhoff said he believes Salazar is only treating a symptom and not the disease.

Salazar and the sheriff’s office recently came under new scrutiny, including by his GOP opponent, after a deputy fatally shot Damian Daniels on Aug. 25 during a struggle outside his home on the far West Side.

Salazar said deputies showed as much restraint as they could before resorting to deadly force on Daniels, who the sheriff said had a weapon and was mentally unstable.

Daniels' family has said mental health professionals should have responded the scene and not deputies with guns.

Salazar has sought to withhold the body camera footage of the shooting. He did, however, release selected images of the incident and the case is under investigation.

To that end, Salazar was the first sheriff in Bexar County to outfit deputies with body cameras.

The sheriff has also had to navigate the office and jail through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May, the number of cases at the jail reached its peak at around 300 cases.

Rickhoff believes Salazar has had more than enough time to right the ship at the sheriff’s office and has failed to do so.

Rickhoff claims Salazar’s mismanagement has led to historic turnover at the sheriff’s office. He said Salazar has jeopardized the safety of the community by failing to fill more than 200 vacant positions, leading to an overworked and depleted staff.

In 2019, Salazar addressed those issues in a Defenders interview and stuck to his belief that he is doing the right thing by tightening hiring standards.

To address staffing issues, Salazar created the “Blue Shirt Program,” which lowered the age limit to 18 years old to enter the academy and become a jailer.

Those individuals in the program are placed into a soft security role at the jail before becoming full-time detention officers. Salazar has also sought to get better pay and benefits for deputies.

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