(Editor’s note: The following has been updated with comment from Hays County Sheriff Tommy Ratliff.)
Bill Huddleston, the Democratic Party’s 2008 nominee for Hays County Sheriff, announced Friday that he will take another crack at that office in the 2010 election, pitting himself squarely against Sheriff Tommy Ratliff, a Democratic who announced his intention for a 2010 run when the Hays County Commissioners appointed him last December to replace the late Sheriff Allen Bridges.
Huddleston lost the 2008 election, receiving 45.21 percent of 56,627 votes against Bridges, a Republican running for his second full term. Bridges collapsed in his shower on the night of Dec. 5, 2008, and later died from the heart attack.
Following an anguished political process, the commissioners court, consisting of four Democrats and a Republican, replaced Bridges with Ratliff. The Bridges family and key Hays County Republicans wanted Bridges’ top assistant, Sherman Brodbeck.
In his announcement Friday, Huddleston didn’t hold back from taking his swipes at Ratliff as the two approach a Democratic primary election in March 2010. Huddleston suggested that Ratliff’s style is too autocratic for the demands of the sheriff’s office.
“There are some problems, many stem from an emphasis on demands rather than facts,” Huddleston said. “To solve these problems, we need many people working together.”
During the summer, Ratliff relieved Bo Kidd from his command of the county’s Buda patrol without discussing the matter with Buda city officials. Thursday, the state’s jail standards commission ordered the kitchen of the Hays County Jail to be closed in 20 days. The jail commission has noted seven areas of jail noncompliance with state standards.
“Under the late Sheriff Allen Bridges, jail maintenance and repairs were on track,” Huddleston said. “Allen was a leader who cared about his people and the people of our county. He knew the issues with the jail and had an excellent plan in place, working with rather than against, the commissioner’s court. As sheriff, I will bring that kind of team work back to our county as it benefits everyone.”
The county jail failed state inspections in April and September. A representative of the jail commission paid a visit to the facility on Tuesday before the jail standards commission ordered the kitchen closed on Thursday.
“Perhaps Tommy expected the commissioners to put on gloves, grab a mop and clean his jail for him?” Huddleston asked. “Keeping areas like the kitchen clean and functioning are the sheriff’s responsibility. Period.”
Informed of Huddleston’s barbs, Ratliff said, “It’s the All-American way, isn’t it?” Ratliff didn’t otherwise comment on Huddleston’s candidacy.
Huddleston has lived in Hays County for 24 years, the first 11 in Dripping Springs and the last 13 in San Marcos. Huddleston graduated from Texas Christian University and served in the United States Marine Corps. He returned to Texas and owned and managed a contracting company before entering Hays County law enforcement. A 20-year veteran of the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Huddleston has served as deputy, sergeant, narcotics investigator and criminal investigator. As one of the founding members of the Hays County SWAT Team, Huddleston served in every capacity, including SWAT Commander.
Huddleston is a single father of a daughter at San Marcos High School and a son at Katherine Anne Porter School in Wimberley.
“I’m my granddaddy’s kind of Democrat,” Huddleston said. “The sheriff’s office is about people, not politics.”Email | Print