Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson’s last bid for public office may turn out to be one of his most challenging.
Anderson, 59, who is seeking his fifth and final term, will face former Dalworthington Gardens Police Chief Bill Waybourn, 56, who says he has raised more than $150,000 in cash along with star-studded endorsements ranging from TV star Chuck Norris to the widow of “American sniper” Chris Kyle.
Anderson and Waybourn will be among the candidates filing for office in the local Republican Party Primary when filing begins on Saturday for the March elections. Filing for the GOP and Democratic primaries will run until Dec. 14.
“You don’t take any threat lightly,” said Anderson, who announced his decision to seek another term on Facebook in September. “I’m proud of my record and I think the voters have been supportive of me and we’ll continue to be successful.”
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Waybourn, who stepped down at the end of September after 31 years as police chief, said he made the decision to run months ago and that he’s built a “great grassroots movement.”
“We’re confident in what we are doing. We think we are off to a great start,” Waybourn said.
When Anderson was first elected in 2000, the department had been rocked by scandals during the eight-year tenure of Sheriff David Williams. Williams wanted to transform the department into a crime-fighting megaforce and routinely had clashes with county leaders over his budget.
Anderson, a former spokesman for the Arlington Police Department, immediately returned the department to its core responsibility of not only patrolling the ever-more-populated unincorporated areas of the county, but of running the county jail and providing courthouse security.
He’s been credited with bringing fiscal responsibility to the department and he advocated for the construction of a new maximum-security jail in downtown rather than building it in a remote location favored by some Fort Worth leaders.
I’d like to do it one more time and leave the door wide open for the next person.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson
“The department has been scandal-free, that hasn’t always been the case,” Anderson said. “We’ve turned it around and become a respected law enforcement agency.”
Anderson, who admits that he enjoys the “sheriffing part” more than the politics, said he never considered not running for another four-year term, although he said on his Facebook page that there had been “much speculation about my intentions.”
But after talking to his family, he decided to run again after also being encouraged to seek another term by other elected officials, including Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, District Attorney Sharen Wilson and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley.
Anderson said he has not started raising campaign contributions yet and that while he doesn’t have a website — he does have a Facebook and Twitter account — they are “moving in that direction.” Anderson’s last campaign finance report filed in July shows $7,200 in his accounts.
“I’d like to do it one more time and leave the door wide open for the next person,” Anderson said.
Meanwhile, Waybourn, who ran against Anderson in the GOP primary in 2008 and lost with about 40 percent of the vote, is up and running.
Waybourn already has a website and has held several fundraising events, including one Oct. 30 in Kennedale that spotlighted Norris, Taya Kyle, the widow of the legendary sniper, former Dallas Cowboys great Jay Novacek and Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland.
While Waybourn’s campaign said he’s got about $150,000 in his campaign coffers, his July campaign finance report already had him ahead of Anderson with about $13,000.
Along the way Waybourn has snagged the endorsements of Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, Mansfield Mayor David Cook, and a number of Texas state representatives including Bill Zedler and Tony Tinderholt of Arlington and Jonathan Stickland of Bedford.
I believe in creating relationships from Section 8 housing to the governor’s mansion.
Former DWG police chief Bill Waybourn
He’s also won the support of The Fort Worth Police Association, the Arlington Police Association and the Tarrant County Law Enforcement Association, along with several county constables.
Besides working with security police in the Air Force, Waybourn’s entire law enforcement career was spent on the police force of Dalworthington Gardens, a small bedroom community surrounded by Arlington. He was the police chief for 31 years.
Waybourn said the sheriff’s department needs “bold leadership.” For example, he is opposed to any community acting as a sanctuary city and says that he would assign deputies to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents to “make a larger net” to nab illegal aliens.
Building better relationships with the cities within the county also would be a goal of his administration, he said. “I believe in creating relationships from Section 8 housing to the governor’s mansion.”