Ed Gonzalez is Harris County’s next sheriff.
The former Houston police officer and city council member beat Republican incumbent Ron Hickman with 53 to 47 percent of the vote.
Gonzalez was able to take advantage of high turnout among Democrats.
He is the second Latino to be elected sheriff in Harris County after Adrian Garcia in 2008.
At his election watch party, Gonzalez vowed to work with the current sheriff between now and when he takes office – despite a contentious election campaign.
“Hopefully, we can sit down and talk,” he said. “He can give me a status of where things are at right now and what was already in the pipeline, so that we can have a smooth transition come January.”
Gonzalez served 18 years in the Houston Police Department, first as a civilian, then a police officer, retiring as a sergeant in 2009.
He got elected to Houston City Council District H in 2009 and served as mayor pro tem and chairman of the public safety committee, until term limits ended his time on the council in 2015.
He ran for sheriff on the promise to improve the Harris County Jail, vowing to reduce overcrowding by lobbying for bail reform, reducing the number of repeat offenders and working with the district attorney and other law enforcement agencies to encourage diversion programs and methods like cite-and-release to keep low-level offenders out of jail.
Gonzalez also wants to improve inmates’ safety and improve transparency in the sheriff’s office.
He said he wants to get right to work when he takes over.
“We got to see what our clearance rates are, how we could improve investigations,” Gonzalez said. “It’s going to be a comprehensive effort to move things forward.”
Hickman will leave the office after about 19 months as sheriff. The Harris County Commissioner’s Court appointed him in May 2015 to fill out the term started by Garcia, who had to resign to run for Houston mayor.