After 28 years, Bell County will elect a new sheriff in November.

Current Sheriff Dan Smith is retiring after seven consecutive terms as the top law enforcement official for unincorporated Bell County.

Vying for his spot are Eddy Lange, who emerged as the Republican candidate after a protracted primary and runoff, and Democrat Frank Hernandez Sr., who was unchallenged leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

The Bell County sheriff is in charge of the county’s jail facilities and a branch of criminal investigators tasked with solving crimes that occur outside of city limits.

Eddy Lange

Age: 57, Precinct 3 County Commissioner, Republican

What makes you qualified to serve?

It has been an honor for me to serve the last 20 years as an elected official in Bell County.

My record as a public servant, together with my experience as a police officer, firefighter, justice of the peace and county commissioner, make me the most qualified candidate.

What should be the biggest budget priority?

The budget as a whole is the priority, trying to find enough money to get more deputies on the street and to purchase the vehicles we are in dire need of.

We need to get more manpower on the streets. We haven’t had an increase in field deputies in 20 years. All our employees do more with less than our counterparts in other counties.

What is the biggest issue facing the sheriff’s department?

Bell County has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade. With growth comes an increase demand for governmental services. This growth has come at a time when the economy has slowed and county revenue has not increased.

Frank Hernandez Sr.

Age: 47, Clinic’s assistant/EKG technician at Scott & White, Democrat

What makes you qualified to serve?

I have served as a peace officer for 17 years and all with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office. I have served as a jailer, patrol deputy, narcotics investigator and CID investigator.

I have many law enforcement qualifications and credentials that allow me to teach, train and work in various areas of law enforcement and capacities of the sheriff’s office. I have worked for and with the people of Bell County and know their wants and needs and have always served them with respect, commitment and dedication. ... I have served in leadership roles and on teams which gives me a broad knowledge of what is needed from the sheriff’s office.

What should be the budget priority in the sheriff’s office?

A priority of the sheriff’s office would be to cut or reduce costs and expenses for vehicle maintenance and equipment purchases.

Any revenue gained could be used to promote or hire much needed additional deputies for patrol and narcotics investigations. Spend the gained revenue from the budget on priority needs first, of course, and what is needed to better serve and protect the public.

Writing more speeding tickets is not the answer to gaining revenue because of the time it would take a deputy to allow for court and time off the road to patrol the county.

Look for grants to support equipment needed for deputies and investigators.

What is the biggest issue facing the sheriff’s department?

A big issue is growth and availability to serve or patrol the county. With Bell County continuing to grow at a great pace ... the number of patrol deputies per square mile area and available to serve is below what is needed. … The sheriff is responsible for all cities, rural towns and the county. More visibility of deputies is needed to assure the citizens that their homes and property and families are protected.

The concern and wanting of more deputies was my original platform . ... I was one of three deputies serving the county in the evening and midnight hours. I know firsthand the concerns for safety and protection.

Contact Philip Jankowski at or (254) 501-7553

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