Waller County Sheriff's Race: Grenades & Gun-Toting Campaign Managers

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

There's a pretty interesting election going on for boss of the sheriff's department in Waller County, a mostly rural area on the western border of Harris County. The elected candidate will be the first new sheriff in two decades, because long-time sheriff Randy Smith is retiring. The candidates are:

- Jeron Barnett, a former Harris County deputy who works for the Katy Police Department. He was named the department's 2008 Crime Prevention Officer of the Year. If elected, Barnett will be the first black sheriff in Waller County.

- R. Glen Smith, a former police chief in Hempstead, fired earlier this year after a series of unfortunate events, including an always-dangerous grenade prank that resulted in an officer's foot being blown off. Two months after the firing, he was hired by the Waller County Sheriff's Department and secured the Republican nomination for sheriff.

Maybe race isn't an issue these days, but considering a white cemetery/black cemetery debate in Waller County this summer, maybe it is. Barnett's father thinks so.

"I believe there will be some voter irregularities in this campaign," Donald Barnett, who is also serving as his son's campaign manager, tells Hair Balls. "This is the worst county that I have ever been to in my life, from Alabama to Wyoming."

According to Donald, voter turn out for Jeron has been good so far, helped by the student population from Prairie View A&M, which recently resolved a voter rights lawsuit with Waller County. There have been a few vandalized Barnett campaign signs, but other than that, no real problems.

"[Racism] has not been an issue in my presence, because I carry a 44-40 [pistol] or a double-barrel shotgun," Donald says. "I'm not going to let anybody bother me."

Smith believes that his firing in Hempstead was not warranted, and he says the mayor had suggested that no action be taken by the city council. Race is a non-issue, Smith says, in the sheriff's campaign.

"Most people are decent, conscientious people that are going to vote they think is the best person to be sheriff," he says. "Both of us are in it to make a difference in the county."

-- Paul Knight

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.