Incumbent wins sixth term as Wharton sheriff

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Nov. 7, 2012 at 5:07 a.m.

Incumbent Sheriff Jess Howell was re-elected Tuesday.

"I appreciate all the support everybody's given me all through the years," Howell said. "I'm glad to be the sheriff of Wharton County."

The sheriff said Tuesday night that nothing much is going to change in his department and he plans to continue business as usual.

"I've got a great department," Howell said.

This will be Howell's sixth term in office.

"It'll be 40 years after this term is over," said the 62-year-old sheriff. "Most of the sheriffs in the surrounding counties run until they're in their 70s."

His Democratic opponent, Phil Rehak, the Waller police chief, ran his campaign with a focus on tightening security and new training for deputies.

"It's hard to beat a 20-year incumbent," Rehak said Tuesday. "I think the county made a mistake tonight."

Rehak said he doesn't know whether he will run again in four years.

"That'll be up to my supporters if they want to give them another shot or not," Rehak said. "I got to meet a lot of wonderful people. I have no regrets."

Rehak partly blamed the stress of the presidential race for his loss.

"By filing as a Democrat, we were facing all odds," Rehak said. "The incumbent owes a big thank you to President Obama because that's what kept him in office."



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