Current Kyle Police officer Michael Torres knew his race with longtime Hays County Pct. 2 Constable incumbent James Kohler was up in the air Nov. 8.
In fact, it wasn’t until 11 p.m. on election night that Torres knew he had ousted Kohler, who had served as the Pct. 2 constable for 38 years, by 111 votes.
Torres, who was victorious in his first campaign for public office, said winning the seat closed a 19-month ordeal that was full of “ups and downs.”
“When they announced it, I couldn’t believe it,” Torres said. “I was also relieved that it was over.”
He said his key to winning was his involvement in the community. Having worked with Kyle Police since 2011, Torres said always respecting people got him a “long way” with voters.
He also said he had support from many in the law enforcement community.
“Unseating a 38-year incumbent is hard, but people finally realized it was time for a change and I’m glad they elected me,” Torres said.
That change extends to bringing new ideas to the table. In addition, Torres said he plans to update the constable’s office and “bring it into the 21st Century.”
“I’d love to see them wearing proper uniforms and proper equipment for a law enforcement job and not just the civil part,” Torres said.
He also plans to work hand-in-hand with local law enforcement agencies and help them with enforcement and minor traffic accidents.
The win also closed a campaign that began with several fundraisers in May 2015.
“It was a lot of work. I’m glad we did it because a lot of people supported me in the end,” Torres said.
Kohler, who was first elected to the constable’s office in 1978, said he expected to win his reelection bid. He cited his victory in the Hays County Pct. 2 Constable republican primaries in March.
But Kohler, who switched from the Democratic to Republican party for the election, believed the change may have hindered him. He believed many people who voted for him during the early voting period cast straight ticket ballots, but didn’t realize he had changed parties.
“A bunch of them did that,” he said. “A lot of them voted straight Democrat not knowing I changed parties.”
Kohler said he plans to retire for now, but isn’t finished with his political aspirations.
In two years, Kohler said he plans to run for the Hays County Pct.2 Justice of the Peace office currently held by Beth Smith. Kohler cited issues with Smith’s performance during her tenure.
Kohler, however, thanked Hays County voters for their support.
“Ive done one hell of a job and I appreciate people that supported me all of these years,” Kohler said. “The people that treated me good, I’ll try to do that for them.”
Torres said he also plans to be more involved in the community.
“Change is coming into Kyle and the Hays County area. Others need to step up and run for office,” Torres said.