Wichita Falls police officer Tommy Smyth was sworn in as the new Wichita County tax assessor/collector today.
He had to win two hard fought elections to do it, but Smyth finally made it to his new job at the Wichita County Courthouse in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Smyth first won a close race in the Republican primary to earn the right to compete in the November 2012 general election against longtime incumbent Lou Murdock.
It is impossible to determine all the factors involved in the election, but local observers said many Wichitans voted straight party Republican. Formerly a Democratic stronghold, Wichita County switched to the Republican side in the early 1990s. Seventy-three per cent of Republicans voted straight party.
Smyth was serving as a Criminal Intelligence officer at the Wichita Falls Police Department at the time of the election. He had served two decades as a public servant prior to this election.
Murdock had been in her office for 16 years since she first ran in 1996. This was the first time she drew an opponent.
The election was a nail-biter as the final tallly was 20,009 to 19, 811. With a difference of less than 200 votes, Murdock initially consisdered a recount.
However, after Wichita County Democratic chairman John Ritchey and she reviewed her options she decided against it.
Smyth, who four years ago ran as a Democrat for sheriff, said it may be a good time for Democratic officeholders across the state to re-evaluate their party affiliation.
For his part, Smyth in his biographical information, said he was married to a wonderful woman who had given him two great children. He has earned two degrees from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls including a bachelor's of science in criminal justice and a master's of arts in public administration which should help him as he assumes the reins of the office.
The tax assessor/collector's office provides services for property tax collections, beer and win permits, motor vehicle registration and titling functions.
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