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Radford formally launches campaign

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 by Caleb Pritchard

Beneath the sweltering September sun outside of his East Austin campaign headquarters, Lakeway Police Chief Todd Radford officially launched his campaign for Travis County sheriff on Monday morning.

“I want to be the next sheriff because I think that everyone deserves to have a safe community,” Radford declared to a small crowd of about two dozen supporters, staffers and local press. “And I am passionate about people, and I am passionate about this profession that I chose some 27 years ago.”

Though he’s been on the record as a candidate for some time now, Radford’s speech marked the ceremonial beginnings of an already active campaign. He joins a fluctuating field in the Democratic primary that also includes Travis County Deputy Don Rios and former Austin Police Lt. John Sisson. A draft campaign is currently raising the profile of Travis County Constable Sally Hernandez, who must resign now or wait until December to formally join the race.

To further complicate matters, incumbent Sheriff Greg Hamilton recently revealed that he’s rethinking his retirement, a bombshell that coincided with confirmation from Chief Deputy Jim Sylvester that he is exiting the race to spend time with his ailing father.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Joe Martinez is the sole runner in the Republican race.

On Monday, former Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell helped introduce Radford by echoing his formal endorsement of the campaign, released earlier this month.

“I had every intention of staying out of politics, but this race is just too important,” said Leffingwell, who also noted that he is the son of a former deputy. “Because this is such a critical time for our community and for law enforcement in general, it’s important to select and elect the best qualified person to be sheriff.”

Nelson Linder, the president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, spoke next. He told the crowd about his shared commitment with Radford to create a safer community. Concluded Linder, “And I’m sure that given his experience in law enforcement, his personality, his skill set, we can certainly do that.”

During his own remarks, Radford laid out several notable policy ideas that should play well to Democratic voters. He said he would work to equip Travis County deputies with body cameras and also cross-train deputies and corrections officers as mental health officers.

Radford also hammered on Hamilton’s controversial policy of working with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

“Our deputies should not be put in the position of acting as immigration agents,” Radford said. “It is not necessary to have an ICE policy that causes unjust and unwarranted deportations for things like traffic offenses. Instead, every person put in the Travis County jail needs to be treated equally and fairly.”

He later explained to the Austin Monitor how he expected to find the money to pay for the proposals he is offering. Radford said, “Making sure you have the buy-in from commissioners court is going to be essential. But there are many other ways – through grant programs or other funding sources – that we can get past this hurdle of money.

“But ultimately, for me, if something is that important, if something is that critical, you find a way to fund it.”

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