Incumbent Galveston County Judge Mark Henry on Tuesday won the Republican Party primary election against District Court Judge Lonnie Cox after a contentious campaign that led to a close race.
Since no Democrat filed to run for county judge in the November general election, Henry is almost certain to retain the post for another four-year term.
Henry won 12,034 votes for about 51.81 percent of the total, while Cox took 11,192, 48.19 percent, according to complete but unofficial election results.
Accusations of dirty tricks between Henry and Cox dominated the campaign for months.
“It’s been very stressful for my family,” Henry said. “I’m very glad it’s over. I’m very glad the people gave us their votes.”
Cox couldn’t be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Henry said in February he had filed a criminal complaint against Cox, alleging the judge had used his position to access and leak confidential records that were part of a divorce proceeding initiated by Henry’s wife and sealed by court order. Cox denied the accusation.
In January, Cox defended his use of campaign funds to pay his legal fees in a lawsuit against Henry as above board, after a local attorney raised questions that the spending might violate state campaign finance laws.
The county judge is the chief administrative officer of the county and heads the commissioners court, which sets policy for various governmental departments.
Henry earns about $167,400 a year in the job.
Commissioner Joe Giusti will keep his seat with a clear win over challenger Kevin O’Brien.
Giusti took 5,201 votes, 65.49 percent, according to complete but unofficial election results. O’Brien won 2,741 votes, 34.51 percent.
Because no Democrats ran for the position, Giusti will remain the commissioner for Precinct 2, which represents a wide swath of Galveston County and includes areas west of Interstate 45 from League City to Tiki Island, and western parts of Galveston Island.
In 2010, O’Brien defeated Giusti by 30 votes in the Republican primary for Galveston County Commission Precinct 2. He would go on to defeat Democrat Bryan Lamb in the general election.
In 2014, Giusti won the seat, defeating O’Brien by 110 votes in the primary race.
Galveston County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Clark will face Michelle Hatmaker in a runoff election May 22.
Clark received 3,416 votes, 47.58 percent, while Hatmaker took 1,565, 21.80 percent in a race among four candidates, according to complete but unofficial election results.
“We ran a clean, solid campaign,” Hatmaker said. “The numbers have spoken loudly.”
Clark has served in his position for 20 years, making him one of the longest-serving elected officials in Galveston County.
“I want to thank the voters for overwhelmingly supporting me,” Clark said. “I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. I want to get back to focusing on county projects.”
Friendswood City Councilman Billy Enochs took 1,119 votes, 15.58 percent, and businessman Jim Bulgier won 1,080 votes, 15.04 percent.
Precinct 4 covers areas in the northwest part of the county, including parts of Friendswood, League City and Dickinson.
Galveston County Commissioners earn an annual salary of a little more than $102,000 and serve four-year terms.