BELTON — It appears Sheriff Eddy Lange will continue to be Bell County’s top cop.
He defeated Killeen Police Detective Fred Harris 67.64% to 32.36% in the Republican primary Tuesday night, according to early voting numbers.
Lange had a 7,880 vote lead over Harris. Lange had 15,107 votes to Harris’s 7,227.
“It looks real good. It looks really good,” Lange said of the early voting. “I’ve been in the business a long time. Only one time in that time period have I ever seen somebody come from behind, and it was only a small margin, in the regular voting from the early voting. It’s 99.99 percent if you’re leading in early voting, that’s the way it’s going to end up.”
Lange, 65, touted his experience — two terms as sheriff, two terms as a county commissioner and four terms as a justice of the peace — as a boon for the county as it manages growth and crime. Texas lawmakers last year placed a 3.5 percent cap on the amount of property tax revenue local governments can raise on existing properties.
“That’s going to be our biggest challenge going forward. We are still in a very high-growth area. Depending on who you talk to, it’s up to 10 percent a year,” Lange said last month, adding the county may need to expand the jail soon. “Those numbers don’t work in the long scheme of things. It’s going to be very difficult moving forward as to how we’re going to provide services to the public as they continue to move into this area.”
Harris portrayed Lange as just a politician, not a lawman. Harris said Bell County was not safe, “infested with gangs,” not doing enough to deal with human trafficking and not prepared for mass casualty shootings.
Lange pushed back on those perceptions. He pointed to having set up the Special Crimes Unit to tackle human trafficking and helping the victims of sex trafficking.
“I feel very safe in Bell County. I think most of the citizens here in Bell County feel safe,” the sheriff said.
Lange is likely heading into the Nov. 3 election uncontested. No Democrats sought their party’s sheriff nomination.