Local election results released Tuesday night show that Erath County Sheriff Matt Coates won the Republican Party’s nomination over challenger Kent Howell, but another challenger, Paul Tyus, said he still intends to be on the November ballot, running for the position as an independent.
Coates beat Howell, his Republican challenger, in the sheriff's race with 4,424 votes to Howell's 2,946. No Democrats filed to run for sheriff.
The votes will be canvassed and official results announced sometime after March 9, which is the final day that military votes can be accepted by mail, according to local election coordinator Michelle Allcon.
In order to run as an independent and have their name placed on the Nov. 3 ballot, candidates had to file a “declaration of intent to run” in the Erath sheriff’s race between Nov. 9 and Dec. 9 of 2019, according to Allcon.
Those potential independent candidates then are required to obtain a minimum number of signatures on a petition. That petition then must be turned in to the county judge — in this case Erath County Judge Alfonso Campos — in late June.
Tyus told the Empire-Tribune that, “I’m going to probably have up to 1,000 petition votes.”
Coates became sheriff in 2016 when he was appointed after the unexpected death of former sheriff Tommy Bryant. Coates filled the two-year unexpired term and was up for re-election this year.
Following Tuesday’s results, Howell took to social media to thank his supporters and give Coates his best.
“This was not the outcome I wanted, but I’m beyond humbled and thankful for the support of this community,” Howell wrote. “To Sheriff Coates, regardless of our differences, thank you for your willingness to lead this county and I wish you and your family the best.”
Coates told the E-T, “I’m happy with the support we received. I believe it was a team effort with everybody at the sheriff’s office working hard and doing a great job.”
Allcon, along with Campos, noted that under Texas law, those who voted in the Primary Election as either Republican or Democrat — as well as anyone who will cast a vote in the May 26 runoff between incumbent J.D. Sheffield and challenger Shelby Slawson for District 59 state representative — cannot legally vote for an independent candidate on Election Day, Nov. 3.
For that reason, the petition effort for Tyus won’t begin until after that runoff is decided.
“I just want to do what’s right for the voters and citizens of Erath County,” said Tyus, who ran for sheriff two years ago and finished fourth behind Coates, Clell Murray and Bobby Harpole.