HOUSTON - In front of dozens of supporters chanting "Adrian! Adrian!," longtime Houston and Harris County public servant Adrian Garcia announced he is running for Houston mayor.
"I've done something that leaders should do a lot of, and that is listen. I've heard many people talk about my appreciation of my efforts as sheriff," he said. "I will always do my best to support my hometown ... for these reasons and more, today I am announcing my candidacy for mayor of the city of Houston."
Garcia touted how he saved $200 million in costs at the jail, diversified the Sheriff's Office and kept a lid on crime.
"Houston needs a mayor to balance the budget, save taxpayers millions of dollars and to protect families. I've done that as your sheriff and I'll do that as your mayor," Garcia said.
Rice University political scientist Mark Jones predicts Garcia will be a strong contender, drawing more Hispanic voters to the polls.
"We are a city that is 45 percent Latino, and we will be 55 percent Latino by time next mayor leaves office (in 6yrs)," Jones said.
Six other candidates have already announced they're in the race. Former City Attorney Ben Hall, Houston City Council Member Stephen Costello, former congressman Chris Bell, businessman Marty McVey, former Kemah Mayor Bill King and state Rep. Sylvester Turner are all vying to replace outgoing Mayor Annise Parker, who is term-limited. Jones says the crowded field, which could grow, ensures there will be a runoff in the race.
"I think right now the most likely scenario would be a Garcia-Turner runoff. And there Garcia has central advantage of being able to mobilize Latinos, and centrist and conservative Anglos that could push him over the top, and make him the first Latino mayor in the city of Houston," said Jones.
The commissioners will appoint a new sheriff to fill out Garcia's term. The new sheriff is expected to be a Republican since they have a majority on the court. Three men have already expressed interest in the job: state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Tomball, Constable Ron Hickman, Harris County Precinct 4, and Harris County sheriff's Deputy Carl Pittman.
Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack says he expects more candidates to apply for the appointment.
"I would imagine in the next couple of days we'll be approaching 20 or 30," Radack said. Radack said he expects the commissioners to vote within the next two weeks.
Garcia is a 23-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, former head of the Anti-Gang Taskforce, a former City Council member, former mayor pro-tem and current sheriff of Harris County.
After leaving the Houston Police Department, Garcia served six years as a Houston city councilman, eventually becoming mayor pro-tem under Mayor Bill White, which gave him the experience on how the government works.
Garcia has been very vocal in recent months on issues of crime and on making changes within law enforcement.
After an investigation regarding inmate abuse in Harris County, Garcia terminated six employees -- two sergeants and four supervisors, and suspended 29 employees without pay.
Those decisions were made after it was discovered that Deterrius "Terry" Rashad Goodwin sat locked up in isolation in a filthy jail cell on the second floor of the Harris County Jail at 1200 Baker Street.
A sheriff's office compliance team discovered that Goodwin's cell was deplorable. They found dozens of food trays. They found an infestation of gnats. They found horrible conditions.
"No matter how violent an inmate may be, everyone has an obligation to the proper care that an inmate can have," Garcia said.
As a reminder, Garcia laid out a multipoint plan to ensure safety and prevent future incidents.
Wednesday afternoon, activist Quanell X called for a federal investigation of the case and Garcia. He was joined by Goodwin's family members as well as inmate Norman Hicks's family members. Hicks died in the jail in 2011 after a fight with a jailer.
"There's been a systemic pattern of abuse and human and civil rights violations inside of the jail," X said. "Sheriff Adrian Garcia has not manned up, and stood straight, and been honest about what he knows."
In Hick's death, three deputies were fired for not seeking medical attention in a timely manner.
A fundraising website, AdrianGarcia.com, was recently launched and features the slogan, "Working for you," and prominently features a logo that reads, "Adrian Garcia for Mayor."
Garcia even changed his Twitter handle from @SheriffGarcia to @AdrianGarciaHTX.
Copyright 2015 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.