HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays County District Attorney’s retirement opened the door for two candidates hoping to replace him. Democrat Kelly Higgins beat out Republican David Puryear for the seat by garnering 53.06% of the vote (46,299 votes). Puryear got 46.94% of the vote (40,956 votes).
Higgins wrote on social media, “Not only did I win my race, but Democrats all but swept the county. Now we will have a majority on the Commissioner’s Court. And that means I can expect support for the changes I’ve promised.”
One of the topics Higgins has to navigate now is whether to prosecute marijuana cases in the rest of the county since San Marcos voters chose to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession Tuesday night.
Hays County — which includes the cities of San Marcos, Kyle, Dripping Springs, Buda and the surrounding areas — has been represented by Wes Mau, R-Texas, since his appointment as district attorney in 2014.
Puryear has served nearly four decades in the criminal justice system as both a prosecutor and a judge. His focus lies in public safety, such as the reinforcement of drug-related laws, forming an Anti-Fentanyl Prosecution Team, and eliminating the backlog of pending criminal cases.
“I will be fair but tough on all violent crime offenders, drug traffickers, and repeat offenders, to tackle the influx of crime from surrounding areas,” the Republican candidate stated on his campaign website.
Higgins was the more progressive candidate. His goals include establishing mental health courts for nonviolent offenses and opposing the use of Hays County resources to prosecute abortion cases. He said he does not plan to prosecute “cases of simple possession of cannabis in Hays County.”
The longtime criminal defense attorney is also very critical of current practices of the local attorney’s office and seeks to reform the system, according to his campaign website.
“I am running to bring a sea change to the District Attorney’s Office in Hays County. I am running to bring a progressive vision to our county, a vision of justice, proportion, and fair play,” Higgins’ website stated.