County Probate Judge Tom Rickhoff speaks with reporters before a press conference at the Alamo Pachyderm Club.
Bexar County Probate Judge Tom Rickhoff speaks with reporters before a speech to the Alamo Pachyderm Club. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Bexar County Probate Judge Tom Rickhoff, who is running a long-shot campaign to unseat Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, said Thursday that he would “absolutely” withdraw from the race should he see changes in the Commissioners Court.

During a campaign speech to the Alamo Pachyderm Club, Rickhoff, a Republican, said he wants to see the Commissioners pass “voluntary” ethics reform that includes changing the County’s campaign finance system, provide what he describes as adequate funding for the County’s probate courts, produce a plan to reduce the County’s debt, and stop spending frivolous amounts of money.

He told reporters that he would be suspending his campaign in June while he waited to see whether Commissioners take any action on these matters.

“If they don’t do it, then I’m coming back,” Rickhoff said.

Wolff, who is seeking his fifth term as Bexar County judge after being appointed to the position in 2001 and ran unopposed in 2016. He declined to comment on Rickhoff’s call for changes on the Commissioners Court.

Rickhoff has alleged that there’s a “pay to play” system at the County, pointing to large campaign contributions given by individuals and family members that won significant contracts from the County’s five-member legislative body.

Candidates running for office in Bexar County may receive unlimited campaign contributions from individuals. This includes contributions from those seeking contracts with the county.

Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo (Pct. 2) won his Democratic primary runoff Tuesday night against challenger Queta Rodriguez. During his victory remarks delivered at his campaign headquarters, he stressed the importance of money in winning elections.

“[Financial support] made a big difference,” Elizondo said. “To this moment, whether we want to change the way we do politics in Texas [or not], that’s the game and if you don’t play it that way, you’re not guaranteed to win. Money talks.”

The most recent campaign finance filings indicated that Wolff had  $619,000 in his campaign coffers, while Rickhoff did not report having received any contributions.

Whether Rickhoff ultimately decides to abandon his race against Wolff, Rickhoff said that he considers his campaign something of a success because he feels he has gotten his message out to the public.

“I’ve won, because people are listening to me about these issues,” Rickhoff said. “And that’s what I define as success.”

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Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.