Graham kicks off campaign for Sheriff
David Graham, a Dripping Springs resident, Precinct 4 Constable Deputy, and former Lieutenant in the Dallas Police Department, formally kicked off his campaign for Hays County Sheriff with a “open house and meet and greet” on Oct. 28 at the Belterra private residence of Dan and Pat Robison.
Graham, a “lifetime-republican,” will be challenging incumbent Sheriff, Gary Cutler, in the Republican primary. Cutler launched his own bid for re-election earlier this year in July, and was first elected in 2010.
“I’m running because a lot has changed over the past nine years, and the current incumbent has taken us as far as he can,” Graham said in an interview with the Century News. “The Sheriff’s Office has become stale and stagnant and Gary Cutler’s leadership is considered disconnected by his employees.”
When asked to name specifics, Graham said, “Hays County is no longer a rural county. We have growing cities, increased traffic, and more sophisticated crimes occurring. The Sheriff’s Office needs to evolve in order to remain effective with our changing environment. What I bring is new leadership, vision and goals, to help modernize the Sheriff’s Office. My real-life and recent experience working for a major metropolitan police department enables me to better anticipate not just our needs over the next year, but several years out as well. More importantly I’m certain I can execute those needed modernizations better than the incumbent.
“One major source of frustration has been the lack of cohesive coordination between the Sheriff’s Office, and Constable’s Office, Fire, and EMS. With our large county population and limited number of first responders, it’s critical that we all communicate well with each other and leverage each other’s presence out in the field. For example, right now, as a Constable, I can’t even check into service [at the start of a shift] on the main [radio] channel. We’re told to do so on the secondary channel, and that we may not even be acknowledged by dispatch on the call-in. That’s just silly. If an officer runs into a bad situation, we need to know where he is.
“Another example is Sheriff Cutler advised us that we cannot use their property room to log in any property we recover, or evidence we recover from a crime scene. Instead Hays County Constables have to take the property to Department of Public Safety Headquarters in Austin to be processed, which of course takes us off patrol for an extended period of time. Again, it’s an issue of proper management of limited time and resources.”
After population growth and the need for better synergy between first responders, Graham names the county jail as his next pressing concern. “The continued and growing number of inmates outsourced to other jails is an example of lack of foresight. The new jail will have a capacity of 471, but the average daily jail population is 531. So from day one, we’re going to be 60 beds short [according to an American Statesman article]. When planning the new jail, Sheriff Cutler should have anticipated not just an immediate shortage number, but projected out those needed beds several years out—beginning with when the jail construction would start, when it would finish, then still project out some time after that based on estimated population growth.”
After speaking about the county jail, Graham also spoke about the political aspects of his primary challenge. “I was asked why I didn’t just run as a Democrat,” Graham said. “I was told that the [Republican] party would not welcome a primary challenger against Cutler. The answer is that I’ve been a Republican all my life. I recognize that I have an uphill battle, but it’s doable. I’m asking people to support me through meet and greets in their neighborhoods, posting up yard signs, and of course campaign contributions and volunteering for the campaign.
“For those Republicans who have reservations about a primary challenger, I would point out that the current incumbent has become vulnerable and has not reacted to attacks on him. The constant reading out-loud reports of inmates outsourcing at the County Commissioners meetings, a recent front page hit piece on him in the Statesman, the constant questioning as to why intervention policing, known as ‘catch and release,’ is not being used with certain criminal acts—all of this is not an accident—yet what has been his response? There has been no response. The Republican party took some losses during the last election. We can’t take anything for granted, and that means having a candidate who has drive, ambition and desire to win the general election.”
Graham finished his Century News interview by citing his qualifications in law enforcement.
“Against our growing needs, I bring 36 years of law enforcement experience, which includes 10 years of working with the Dallas Police Department as a unit commander. I commanded over 200 officers and was directly responsible for $2.3 million dollars of the department’s money. I also held many high profile assignments and critical response positions—from training responsibilities, helicopter unit, internal affairs, and tactical operations such as SWAT, K9, Mounted Unit, Reserve Battalion, Dive Team, and Special Events Unit. My units directly served a population of 1.3 million people, and indirectly about 2.1 million in the metroplex area.
“My decision to run was based on deputies within the Sheriff’s Office asking me to run. I believe my experience enables me to foster new teamwork between Hays County first responders, refresh the Sheriff’s Office, and provide effective managerial growth to our law enforcement infrastructure.”
More information on Graham can be found at daveforhays.com.