Elections

KP George, a trailblazer in 2018, wins another term as Fort Bend County judge

The Democrat George, a native of India, beat Republican challenger Trever Nehls by receiving 51.6 percent of the vote.

Fort Bend County Judge KP George
Screenshot
Fort Bend County Judge KP George, the first person of color to hold that office, was reelected Tuesday.

Since becoming the first person of color to be elected as Fort Bend County Judge four years ago, KP George has spoken publicly about being the target of racist, hateful vitriol on social media and elsewhere.

When asked Wednesday afternoon how long such sentiments have persisted, and whether they surfaced during his reelection campaign, the native of a small village in southern India quipped, "I haven't heard anything for the last maybe four hours, five hours."

George, a 57-year-old Democrat whose win in 2018 made him a trailblazer in the Houston area and beyond, said he hopes it stays that way now that he's been granted another four years as the chief executive for one of the most diverse and fastest-growing counties in the country. He held off Republican challenger Trever Nehls by nearly 8,000 votes Tuesday in a race that saw nearly 246,000 ballots cast, according to unofficial election results released by Fort Bend County.

"I'm hoping it is in the past. I want it in the past," George said of the prejudice and bigotry he has experienced. "We need to move forward. People are sick and tired of all this garbage."

George said he was "humbled" and "honored" to be reelected, adding that it happened because of his track record during the last four years. He touted Fort Bend County for being among the leaders in Texas in terms of COVID-19 vaccination rates, educational achievement and economic growth and prosperity.

He still had to hold off a strong bid by Nehls, who has name recognition as a former elected official in Fort Bend County and outraised George by nearly $14,000 between the beginning of July and end of September, according to their most recently available campaign finance reports.

Nehls, a retired military veteran and former police officer, served as the county's Precinct 4 constable from 2012-20, when he lost to Eric Fagan in a race for county sheriff. Nehls also is the twin brother of U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, who previously served as county sheriff.

Trever Nehls' campaign did not respond to a message seeking comment, but he addressed his defeat to George in a Facebook post Wednesday.

"Thank you to everyone who put your trust in me and please join me in praying for our country and county," he wrote. "We are clearly a very divided county and country and I pray we can find a way to heal that division and become united once again."

George said his overarching goal for the next four years is to improve the lives of Fort Bend County residents. Mobility and transportation infrastructure, public safety and emergency management and response are among his priorities, he said, along with attracting good-paying jobs and combatting mental health issues and human trafficking.

When asked what his potential legacy might be – as a Democrat and Indian-American elected official in a suburban area that historically preferred conservative Republicans – George said he's more concerned with the job at hand.

"In 2018, when I came into office, nobody knew what to expect," he said. "Today, they know what to expect. Leaving Fort Bend County 10 times better than when I started, that's my legacy. But I don't think about my legacy. My citizens' wellbeing is the best way to look at it, and I want to continue to work toward it."

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required