REFUGIO COUNTY – Write-in candidates are often considered longshots in political races and may not generate the same amount of attention as someone who is formally on the ballot, but judging from the number of yard signs throughout Refugio County, Matt Tuttle, who is running for county sheriff, is not your traditional write-in contender.
A law enforcement veteran with eight years experience, all with the Refugio County Sheriff’s Office, Tuttle said he decided to move forward with his plan to seek election as sheriff. He is running against his former boss, Sheriff Pinky Gonzales. Gonzales won the Republican primary earlier this year.
“I had intentions of running in the next four years,” he said. “Working for the current sheriff, I didn’t feel like the department is being operated as well as it should be and I want better for our community. That’s one thing that led to my decision.”
Tuttle said he has gotten a positive response from the community.
“It seems to be pretty good and I’m thankful for all the support,” he said.
While Tuttle’s name will not be listed on the ballot, those voting in the sheriff’s race will see a place on the ballot where they can write his name. He said in accordance with state election law, his name is supposed to be posted in each of the voting booths.
“The main deal is that the sheriff’s office is supposed to be a local law enforcement agency,” Tuttle said. “The people need to know that agency is looking out for them and I feel that is a downfall of the current administration. There should be a lot more community interaction by the sheriff and a lot more community policing.”
Tuttle said before he left the sheriff’s office, he noticed a rise in thefts in Refugio County.
“I believe that’s because there’s not enough patrolling by the sheriff’s office,” he said. “Criminals watch and see how often there are sheriff’s patrols, and if there are not enough, they notice.
“I believe the sheriff’s office should conduct more active patrols and pay attention to things. It’s important to build a relationship with the community. It’s important to talk to people and build a good rapport with the public.”
People may see things that look suspicious but might not think to report those things, he said, whereas if sheriff’s office patrols are in the community more frequently, community members will give officers more information.
“There are a lot of things that happen that are not reported that people in the community might see, because they feel like it’s not a big enough deal to report,” Tuttle said. “If you’re out in the community interacting with people, they can talk to you and tell you about things they see. Those types of things may not have seemed important at the time, but they can be a big part of the puzzle of solving crimes.”
Tuttle was a patrol deputy for the Refugio County Sheriff’s Office for five years, and was then promoted to investigator., a job he had for three years. He is a graduate of Woodsboro High School and earned his law enforcement degree from Coastal Bend College.