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Longtime Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson Heads To A Runoff

Christopher Connelly
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson at a recent press conference.

In Tarrant County, Sheriff Dee Anderson was in the fight of his career. He outlasted two challengers, but could not quite hit 50 percent. That means he’s headed for a runoff with Bill Waybourn, former police chief of Dalworthington Gardens.

Waybourn banners were everywhere Tuesday night at Saljo’s Pizza in Pantego, just southwest of Arlington. Inside, it was standing room only, with streams of people shuffling around shoulder to shoulder. The crowd overflowed onto the outside patio and the parking lot. It quickly became a block party. 

“Walking in here with a packed house, screaming and hollering and cheering, it’s like I just won like Rocky Balboa or something,” Waybourn said.

Waybourn’s strong showing didn’t surprise many in Tarrant County, since his opponent, Anderson, has already held office for 16 years -- and spent the last few months dealing with the disappearance, and ultimate capture, of so-called affluenza teen Ethan Couch.

Waybourn said it’s time for new leadership.

“We've gotta build on relationships, we've gotta step out of our comfort zones, we’ve gotta be bold and in our community to provide leadership so we can head off our Fergusons and our Baltimores,” Waybourn said. “And the way we do that is with relationships. We don’t do it from sitting behind a desk.”

Anderson held a solid lead throughout the night, and he said that’s because voters appreciate his record.

“We’ve had no scandals, we’ve had no negative headlines, we haven’t brought any embarrassment to the county or the agency,” Anderson said.

If reelected, though, he promises to make this next term his last one.

“It’ll just be time for me to step back and do some other things and spend more time with my family and more time with people I care about outside the Sheriff's Office." he said. "I tell people all the time, this is not who I am. It’s what I do.”

Anderson said he’s had a full career and plans to have a full life after.