The job descriptions of sheriff or other local offices have absolutely nothing to do with the business of state and national political parties, things like foreign policy, highway systems, health, welfare, and education.
To complicating matters, there is basic confusion about the special meaning of the ambiguous word “primary” in the language of elections. Poll workers reported an abysmal lack of public understanding about elections and politics in general, and in particular resentment about being able to vote for one local candidates in one “party primary” but not to vote for another state or national candidate in the other “party primary.”
The choice of a new sheriff understandably was important to voters of both parties. To vote for a sheriff candidate on the GOP ticket required Democrats and others to vote in the GOP primary, as part of a party with whose policies, otherwise, they may or may not have agreed.
In addition, local candidates must choose to run in the Republican Primary because of the perception that this is the only way to win in Smith County. Many local business and professional people are closet Democrats, independents, or “undecideds,” but if they want to run for local office they have to run as Republicans as a practical matter. Thus, the system tends to reinforce the GOP and works against Democrats.
The question is how can we create non-partisan local elections and separate them from party primaries? It would take the Legislature to revise the Local Government Code.