Fort Bend County Democrat leading for district attorney race
Fort Bend County residents were on course to make history Tuesday night as Democrat candidate Brian Middleton showed a slight lead over his Republican opponent Cliff Vacek in the race to become the district attorney. Middleton could become the first ever African-American top prosecutor for the county and the first Democrat to hold the critical office in 26 years.
And in a surprising twist, Fort Bend ISD board member KP George, a Democrat, was also leading the polls against longtime Republican incumbent Robert Hebert for county judge, who’s served in the position for fifteen years.
Middleton, 46, who runs his own law firm in southwest Houston, could succeed John Healey, a Republican, who is retiring from the office at the end of the year. Middleton, once worked as a prosecutor under Healey.
“It’s just surreal and it hasn’t sunk in,” said Middleton of his lead, , in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “When I started this, nobody really thought it was a good idea but it was a dream and I put my fear aside not knowing how it would be possible. I really just thank God for making it possible.”
Cliff Vacek, 71, a longtime district judge, survived a grueling primary contest against Sugar Land attorney Shawn McDonald to win a place on the November ballot and face Middleton in the election for district attorney. As part of his platform, Vacek wants to revamp the docket system so that cases can be set for trial in a timely manner and witnesses won’t get called down to the courthouse only to have the case reset.
“I think the race is going to be very, very close,” said Vacek on the last day of early voting Friday. “I have no idea which way it’s going to swing.”
The Democratic candidate for county judge, George, has served on the school board since 2014 and currently co-owns and manages a Sugar Land based independent financial planning practice. He has raised three children in Sugar Land with his wife who teaches in Fort Bend ISD. Just an hour before polls closed in the county, George urged residents to vote for him in a video posted to his campaign’s Facebook page.
“I want you to come out and vote for me, so that together we are going to be victorious tonight,” said George outside a Randall’s in Sugar Land.
As part of Middleton’s platform for district attorney, he said the intake process could be reformed so cases are more thoroughly reviewed before trial, improving the quality of cases going to court. He also has a passion for bail reform, adding that a risk assessment tool could be created to determine what type of bond should be set for a suspect.
The Fort Bend races were being closely watched as the growing and diverse county backed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 but has continued to elect Republicans to top county offices.
In another growing suburban area, Montgomery County voters appeared to continued their streak of electing Republicans into top offices. GOP candidate Mark Keough, who served two terms as a state representative in The Woodlands, was leading Democrat candidate Jay Stittleburg for the county judge seat. Stittleburg is the first Democrat candidate to run for the county judge post since 1990.
In the county commissioners court race, Pct. 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, Republican, was leading his Democratic challenger Ron Keichline, an environmental health and safety professional.
In the race to become district clerk, former employee and Republican candidate Melissa Miller had a lead over Democrat John Brandon-Pierre. In the contest to become the county treasurer, Republican Melanie Bush held a over Democrat Mandy Sunderland for the key post.
In Brazoria County, Matt Sebesta held onto his county judge seat for another term as he led Democrat candidate Robert Pruett, a retired Galena Park police chief. Joyce Hudman, the Republican incumbent for county clerk also had a significant lead over her Democrat opponent Rose MacAskie as polls closed.
In Waller County, where Prairie View A&M students sued over alleged early voting suppression, Trey Duhon, the Republican incumbent for county judge was leading his Democrat challenger Denise Mattox.
Debbie Hollan, who’s served as county clerk since 2011 was leading in the voting, staving off a challenge from her Democrat opponent Shari Griswold.