Best Democrat (2009)

Sheriff Adrian Garcia

Longtime Republican control of basically all countywide offices resulted in a lot of stagnation, good-ol'-boy indifference and a resistance to change. (Note: This would have happened under longtime Democratic control, too.) Nowhere was it worse than in the Harris County Sheriff's Office, a place entirely distrusted by many minority residents. Harassment by officers, a jail where inmates tended to die under mysterious circumstances and a leadership that reacted über-defensively to the slightest criticism had left the department in rough shape. Former city councilman (and former Houston cop) Adrian Garcia took over the office in January and has been a breath of fresh air. When sheriff's deputies were accused of harassing a Sikh family, he went to a Sikh temple to talk about it. He's still in the phase where he can blame problems on predecessors — we'll see how he reacts to criticism when it's clearly aimed at him — but Garcia has made an impressive start in a department that sorely needed it.

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