Republicans keep hold of McLennan County: Smith, Riggs big winners

Screenshot from Sheriff Parnell McNamara's message about COVID-19 provided by the City of Waco

By Elizabeth Klausmeyer | Contributor

Republicans won three McLennan County general election races (including sheriff and county commissioner) Tuesday night with over 60% of the vote in each race.

Republican James Smith won McLennan County Commissioner in Precinct 1 over Democrat Alice Rodriguez with 64.88% of the vote with all precincts reporting.

Smith was a public school educator for 34 years and served on Robinson’s city council for four terms. He has also been a reserve deputy sheriff for 38 years.

“I’d like to give a big, hearty ‘thank you’ for the people who jumped on board,” Smith said.

Smith explained he wants to broaden the tax base that contributes to school district funding. He said he wants to bring in businesses to smaller parts of town to “diversify the tax base and spread out the tax,” alleviating the burden on homeowners.

He said that his priority is “bringing economic development throughout the county, particularly Precinct 1.”

Rodriguez won 35.12% of the vote. She served on the Waco city council for 24 years.

“During my 24 years, I was doing everything that a county commissioner would do, but I was doing it at a city level,” Rodriguez said in a March interview.

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara ran unopposed and will serve another four-year term. McNamara won 74,729 votes with all precincts reporting.

McNamara was first elected sheriff in 2012 after serving as a U.S. Marshal for almost 33 years. On Tuesday, McNamara said he intends to run again in 2024.

“I intend on running again,” McNamara said. “I love my job. I love being sheriff because the sheriff is the people’s voice in government. I never take that for granted.”

McNamara said the sheriff’s department will continue to focus its efforts on fighting human trafficking and narcotics.

McLennan County Tax Assessor-Collector Randy Riggs also ran unopposed. Riggs won 72,007 votes with all precincts reporting. Riggs was first elected in 2012.

Riggs said that running this year was easy because he did not have to campaign.

“I didn’t want to muddy the waters for the contested races,” Riggs said. He said the only money he spent in this race was the filing fee of $1,250.