83rd District Attorney Ori White to seek 2nd term

Illustration by crowcrumbs.

83rd DISTRICT — As candidate filing deadlines closed last week, 83rd District Attorney Ori White announced his plans to run for a second term in office. The district attorney’s office prosecutes felonies in Brewster, Presidio, Jeff Davis and Pecos counties and serves an elected four-year term. 

In 2020, White ran against incumbent Sandy Wilson in the Republican primary and won. He carried a considerable lead in Fort Stockton — where he had run a private practice for three decades — and in the area around Marfa, where he grew up and retains deep personal ties. 

He’s been involved in some high profile Big Bend cases: in 2022, a district court judge dropped a rape charge against Terlingua hotelier Jeff Leach at White’s urging — a shift in office policy after the original case was pursued by Wilson, his predecessor. 

In 2019, Wilson prosecuted a murder trial after Marfa ISD teacher Sophia Sullivan was killed in her Fort Davis home. White considers this case a piece of unfinished business –– he has repeatedly pledged to re-try the case in a different venue, most recently promising to tackle the issue by the end of 2023. 

White’s office has also been the subject of ongoing controversy: in 2021, former employee Jerry Philips filed a lawsuit against White, alleging that he was fired by the prosecutor after raising concerns about “unethical and possibly illegal” conduct in the DA’s office. The case is still hung up in appeals. 

Despite the ups and downs of the past three years in office, White maintained that he and his office were still accomplishing what they set out to do: seeing that justice is served in West Texas. “I’ve got the greatest staff in the world — they work so hard and I’m so proud of them,” he said. “We’ve gotten things in really good shape.”

White said his focus was working harder to involve and honor law enforcement in the investigations that come before his office. “We try to be really good about communicating with law enforcement — they want their calls returned,” he said. 

He will face one challenger in the Republican primary: Jesse Gonzales, an attorney based in Fort Stockton. (Gonzales did not return a request for comment by press time.) 

Until then, he plans to keep doing the best he can to serve his district. “I’m extraordinarily grateful to have this job, and I want to keep it,” he said. “We plan to keep doing what we’re doing.”