SINTON – “Well, here we go,” San Patricio County Sheriff Oscar Rivera said as he officially announced he was going to run to keep his sheriff’s position.
The announcement was made last Thursday at the Butter Churn restaurant in Sinton in front of a more than a hundred enthusiastic residents, coworkers, county officials and staff.
“I’m really honored to have you all here this evening,” he added. “What a crowd. I didn’t expect this one bit; this is great.”
Rivera added that after 31 years of being a state employee – starting as a deputy sheriff in 1977 before becoming a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and then a Texas Ranger – and now having to transition to get involved in politics in order to run for sheriff has been difficult.
“That’s been a hard, difficult task, because how do you turn the switch to try to become somewhat of a politician?” he asked the audience.
“I can’t spell the word yet, but I’m trying, folks, I really am,” he joked.
After 54 years serving as county sheriff, Leroy Moody decided to retire on March 31 of this year.
That left Chief Deputy Sheriff Rivera to take on the role of sheriff.
“And on April 1, the county judge and the Commissioners Court appointed me to take over the reins that Sheriff Moody left behind,” Rivera recalled.
“It’s been a task. It’s been a task for the 10 years before that when I was just a chief deputy.
“And what is the chief deputy?
“You all asked where have you been all this time? But the chief deputy is kind of like the vice president of the United States. You never see him. Never hear him. But he’s out there somewhere doing something, taking care of business.
“That’s kind of what my job was for the 10 years that I spent there.”
Rivera said that he’s spent 42 years in the county, remembering 35 years ago when the sheriff’s office building was first built. A few years when the county jail was nearly shut down due to deteriorating conditions, Rivera rolled up his sleeves, gathered some help and tackled the issue.
“As it always goes, when you try to build something, there’s no money,” Rivera said. “Sheriff Moody was trying every year, saying we have to get this thing fixed, but there’s no money.
“Finally, somebody came over and told us, you’re going to have to shut down or get it fixed.
“So we did it ourselves.
“We may have made everybody mad with sandblasting and painting and cutting and sanding, but with the help of trustees and our staff, were able to get this thing back going again.
“We’re back in compliance and proud to say that we’re running a good show.”
Rivera always said that he couldn’t take on the sheriff position without the help of his employees who he said are “the best employees you can ever have.”
The sheriff also said it was tough with all the incidents that happened as soon as he picked up the badge – such as multiple murders, vehicle accidents and fires – but he worked through it and along with his investigators pushed through the rough patch.
“The first thing you have to have is faith in God,” Rivera added. “The second thing you have to have is a wife to support you because she had been on my case since day one,” he laughed.
“I don’t know what the heck I’m doing as a politician, but I’m going to try. I’m going to try, and this job starts with you. And your support. We’ve got to get it done.
“And I know the way I’m going will get some people upset at me because it doesn’t go their way. But if it’s the way the law is, that’s the way we’re going to follow it.”
Paul Gonzales is the editor at the News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270 or at mathisnews@mySouTex.com.