Margaret Moore concedes in Travis County District Attorney race as José Garza leads with 68% of early vote

Hannah Williford

Candidate José Garza leads incumbent Margaret Moore with 68% of the early vote for the Travis County District Attorney runoff election Tuesday. Moore released a statement congratulating Garza on his victory near 8 p.m.

The runoff occurred after neither candidate received a simple majority of votes in the March elections. Garza will take office after Moore, who has served since her election in 2016. 

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Garza had not released a statement to the public regarding his race.

“There has been an awakening across this country,” Garza said to the Texan in June. “I think the majority of people have always known that our criminal justice system is broken. They have always known that it weighs most heavily on working people and people of color. … We are in a moment where people are fighting for their lives on multiple fronts.”

Garza’s campaign has criticized the district attorney office’s prosecution of only one out almost 1,000 rape cases in 2017, and the fact that Black people make up 33% of the Travis County jail population, while only making up 9% of the county’s general population. 

Garza currently serves as the executive director of Workers Defense Project, an organization that “empowers low-income workers to achieve fair employment through education, direct services, organizing and strategic partnerships,” according to its website. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, endorsed Garza earlier this year. 

Among his policies, Garza said he wants to end cash bail, stop prosecuting drug possession and sales of a gram or less of narcotics and attempt to bring all officer-involved cases to a grand jury within 30 days of the incident.

Margaret Moore, a University of Texas alumna, began serving as District Attorney in 2017. During her term, Moore created a Civil Rights Division within the DA’s office to address officer-involved cases, which has prosecuted no police officers during Moore’s time in office. Austin Mayor Steve Adler, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and State Sen. Kirk Watson endorsed Moore, according to Moore’s campaign website.

In 2018, three women sued Moore, among other Travis County officials, as part of a claim that Travis County mishandled their sexual assault cases. The District Attorney office held one jury trial for sexual assault in 2017, nine in 2018 and 13 in 2019, according to Travis County records. 

Moore’s campaign website lists her policies as reducing the number of felony charges for drug cases, ending cash bail and continuing the use of the Civil Rights Division for all officer-involved shootings.

In a recent interview with Texas Monthly, Moore discussed the specifics of the shooting of Michael Ramos in April, where the Black and Hispanic man was shot and killed by an Austin Police Department officer. Moore incorrectly claimed multiple times during the interview that Ramos was in possession of a gun, although Ramos did not have a gun at the time of the shooting, according to Texas Monthly. 

“The District Attorney’s office has made significant improvements to assure police officers are being held accountable, to prioritize the execution of sexual assault cases, and establish new diversion programs for first time offenders,” Moore said in her concession statement released by outlets including The Texas Tribune. “I’m very proud of the progress we have made thus far. Congratulations to my opponent for his victory tonight. I wish him well in the future.”