Outgoing Tarrant election chief thanks officials for ‘not bringing politics into the office’

Outgoing Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia was honored for his service Friday by a resolution from the Texas House of Representatives.

And as he makes his way out the door, Garcia took time to thank former Tarrant County judge Glen Whitley and former commissioners Devan Allen and J.D. Johnson. He also thanked commissioners Roy Brooks and Gary Fickes.

“To the Elected Officials who truly believed in me: Judge Whitley, Commissioners Brooks, Allen, Fickes and Johnson; thank you for allowing me to do my job and for not bringing politics into the office,” Garcia wrote in a statement he posted to Twitter Friday afternoon.

Garcia resigned in a letter dated April 16 in which he cited a meeting with O’Hare and their different ideas for administering transparent elections as reasons for his departure. His last day was Friday.

Garcia wrote in a section of the letter addressed to O’Hare that his “formula to ‘administer a quality transparent election’ stands on respect and zero politics” and that compromising on those values wasn’t an option for him.

“You made it clear in our last meeting that your formula is different, thus, my decision to leave,” Garcia wrote to O’Hare. “I wish you the best; Tarrant County deserves that you find success.”

In the days following Garcia’s resignation, O’Hare said he did not force Garcia to resign and that he left on his own accord.

Garcia’s Friday statement also thanks his wife, parents and staff at the elections office.

“Yes, it takes leadership, but coaches don’t play the game on the field,” Garcia wrote to elections office staffers. “We have accomplished a lot because you are the finest in Texas, and because you were never afraid to step up for a challenge. Thank you for trusting me and letting me be your leader, it has been my pleasure and my honor.”

Garcia’s time in office, departure

Garcia started his job as Tarrant County’s elections administrator in February 2018.

As false claims began to swirl about a stolen election after the 2020 presidential race, Garcia upped transparency practices in the elections office. He led efforts to run mock elections ahead of midterm and municipal races in which Tarrant County residents could come to the elections office to cast a mock ballot as workers tested machines.

He was not, however, immune to the barrage of attacks many election workers faced following the 2020 election. Garcia told a Texas House committee in 2022 there had been calls for his death.

Elected officials in Tarrant County voiced their support for Garcia the day he resigned. Top Democratic officials signed on to a letter to the Justice Department on Monday asking for an investigation into O’Hare for elections practices they say undermine minority voters. The letter cites Garcia’s resignation as a reason the feds should intervene.

The county is searching for Garcia’s predecessor. A spokesperson said the county has received 29 applications. The job will pay at least $164,000, and the application window closes May 26.

“What’s next?” Garcia wrote in his Friday statement. “Hard to think after this, but one thing I do know: now that I’m in the Texas history books, I’ve definitely earned the hat.”