Republican voters in Wood County are now deciding between keeping their current sheriff—under whom crime rankings have gone down—or replacing him with a chief of police whose city has more crime than most cities in America. The winner of the GOP primary runoff will be the county’s next sheriff, as no Democrat sought the position.

Incumbent Sheriff Tom Castloo, a Navy veteran and retired U.S. Border Patrol agent, was first elected over three years ago and has earned the endorsement of JoAnn Fleming of Grassroots America – We The People.

Since Castloo became sheriff, Wood County’s property and violent crime rankings are now lower than the state and national averages.

Wood County also has the least amount of crime compared to the six surrounding counties.

“The combined efforts of all law enforcement agencies have reduced the overall crime, which we all enjoy in Wood County,” Castloo said, with his campaign website adding that he has ended the county’s reputation as a haven for drug activity.

The Wood County Sheriff’s Office has 65 employees and a budget of $6 million.

Castloo’s challenger in the Republican primary runoff, Quitman Chief of Police Kelly Cole, has a different record.

Cole became chief of police in 2009. In 2018, Quitman’s crime rate was ranked as 1.2 times higher than the national average, and much higher than the nearest cities.

Violent crime was also ranked higher than the national average, while property crime was just under.

Since becoming police chief in 2009, Quitman’s yearly crime rate has fluctuated, and there has been a rise in violent and property criminal activity in the past five years. 2018 saw the largest spike in crime during Cole’s tenure.

The Quitman Police Department has a budget of $500,000, with six employees.

Early voting is underway now through July 10 for the July 14 election.

Voting information can be found on the Wood County elections website.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.