By Nicole Cobler and Neena Satija | Nov. 9, 2016
PRAIRIE VIEW — More than a year after Sandra Bland’s death put this little Texas town in the national spotlight, Democrats here hope to put it back there by electing the area’s first black sheriff.
It won’t be easy. Waller County, a mostly rural county just west of Houston that is about 42 percent white and 26 percent black, has long been led by Republicans. But supporters of Democratic sheriff candidate Cedric Watson say a historically black college tucked in the county’s northwest corner could make the difference. About 1 of every 7 residents in Waller County is a student at Prairie View A&M University.
“It’s been crazy all over campus, with us pushing students to vote, to get involved, to know about this,” said Kayla Gilchrist, a senior theater major at Prairie View A&M University who helped register students to vote. “The Sandra Bland incident … that’s been huge.”
Bland, a black woman, was found dead last year in a Waller County jail cell three days after she was pulled over by a state trooper for failing to properly signal a lane change. After a heated argument, the trooper arrested Bland on a charge of assaulting a public servant.