Matt Coates got the vindication he was hoping for Tuesday when Erath County voters decided that he should remain sheriff.

Coates held a steady lead in early voting that carried over into the final total:

Coates - 52.54%

Clell Murray - 21.04%

Bobby Harpole - 15.01%

Paul Tyus - 11.40% 

“I am extremely relieved and happy that it’s over,” Coates said Tuesday night. “I plan to pick up my campaign signs on Wednesday and get back to the business of running the sheriff’s office.”

Coates said the department is focusing on school safety.

“We have already met with the schools to come up with a plan to combat school violence,” he said. “This is an important issue and we want to do everything we can to help.”

Coates was appointed sheriff by county officials in December 2016 after the unexpected death of the late sheriff Tommy Bryant. 

He will fill the two-year unexpired term, then face re-election again in 2020.

Before he was appointed sheriff, Coates worked as an investigator for the Erath County District Attorney’s Office.