Candidates made early vote margins stand up

The vote totals tell the ultimate story of how an election went for candidates – but more stories emerge when you dig a little deeper into the numbers.

Last week, we broke down the county judge and Precinct 4 commissioner races. This week, we’ll take a closer look at the district clerk race and the Precinct 1 and 4 justice of the peace races in the Republican primary.

None of those candidates has a Democratic opponent in November.

District Clerk Graphic

DISTRICT CLERK

Incumbent Brenda Rowe won re-election as district clerk by gathering 58.27 percent of the vote. She also won 24 of the 25 individual voting precincts in the county. The only box she lost was Precinct 2-9 in Alvord. Her opponent, Callie Manning, won 63.4 percent of the vote in her hometown area.

Rowe’s strongest showing appeared to come from the south part of the county. She captured three out of every four votes cast in Precinct 3-25. Rowe also carried box 3-20, in Cottondale, with 70.59 percent of the vote. She topped 60 percent in 13 of the 25 boxes including all of the commissioner Precinct 3 boxes.

PRECINCT 1 JUSTICE OF THE PEACE

Incumbent Jan Morrow was re-elected as Precinct 1 justice of the peace with 69.18 percent of the vote over challenger Josh Reynolds. She won all seven voting precincts in commissioner Precinct 1. Her strongest showing was the 79.84 percent of the vote she captured in Precinct 1-3 in the Slidell area. She also earned more than 70 percent in Precinct 1-4 (Greenwood).

Reynolds did best in Precinct 1-22, located south of Decatur, with 46.09 percent of the vote.

PRECINCT 4 JUSTICE OF THE PEACE

Clay Poynor won re-election as Precinct 4 justice of the peace with 67.2 percent of the vote over challenger Teresa Graves. Poynor won all five voting precincts with more than 65 percent of the vote in each.

In fact, the percentage of the vote changed very little from precinct to precinct. Poynor’s strongest showing was 69.01 percent in Precinct 4-13, and his lowest percentage was the 65.15 percent he claimed in Precinct 4-16.

EARLY VOTING TOLD THE STORY

Early voting accounted for 44 percent of the total votes in the Republican primary election, and it proved a remarkably accurate predictor of the final results.

Rowe led after early voting with 58.03 percent of the vote, and she won with 58.27 percent of the total vote.

In early voting, Morrow claimed 70.52 percent compared to a final percentage of 69.18.

Poynor received 65.95 percent of the early votes and finished with 67.2 percent.

Similar patterns were seen in the county judge race where J.D. Clark’s winning early vote/election day splits were 57.17 and 55.33 percent. The only change from early to final vote totals was Kyle Stephens, who led Keith McComis 21.97 percent to 20.86 percent after early voting, but eventually finished third with 21.57 percent of the vote compared to McComis’ 23.1 percent.

In the county treasurer race, Katherine Canova Hudson’s numbers changed just over one-tenth of 1 percentage point between early and total votes, 73.8 to 73.69 percent.

The largest shift was seen in the Precinct 4 commissioner’s race. Gaylord Kennedy won the three-person race with 59.42 percent of the vote. He led with 65.66 percent of the vote after early numbers were released.

For more breakdowns of last week’s Republican and Democratic primary elections, visit the Wise County Election Department’s website at WCMess.com/gop14 and WCMess.com/dem14.

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Clark 25 for 25 in county judge win

The primary elections are over, and the (almost) final numbers are known.

But there are still plenty of interesting numbers to be found among the results.

This week, we’ll review two of the most closely-watched races: county judge and Precinct 4 commissioner.

Election Graphic

REPUBLICAN BREAKOUT – A closer look at a couple of races from Tuesday’s Republican primary election reveals more detail on how those final results came to be. The chart at left shows the county judge totals broken down by commissioner precinct while the chart below shows how voters in the five individual voting precincts in commissioner Precinct 4 voted in the county commissioner race. Messenger graphic by Jimmy Alford

COUNTY JUDGE

J.D. Clark avoided a runoff by defeating his two challengers in the Republican primary with more than 50 percent of the vote. He was also the top vote-getter in all 25 voting precincts.

Of those 25 precincts, Clark won more than 50 percent of the vote in 19 of them. He was over 60 percent in six precincts (2-7, 2-8, 2-9, 2-11, 2-12 and 3-25). Not surprisingly, his “home” precinct, 2-12 which votes at Chico City Library, gave him the highest percentage of votes with 77 percent.

The vote was closest in Cottondale’s 3-20 precinct. Clark received 35.71 percent, narrowly edging Kyle Stephens who had 34.92 percent of the vote. Keith McComis had 29.37 percent in that precinct.

McComis, Bridgeport’s mayor, finished strongest in the two Bridgeport voting precincts, 4-13 and 4-14, with 35.48 percent and 37.84 percent, respectively.

Stephens’ best showing was in the Cottondale precinct mentioned above and the New Fairview box, Precinct 1-6, with 34.65 percent of the vote.

The Democratic challenger for county judge, Jim Stegall, could have his work cut out for him in November. If everyone who voted for him in the Democratic primary (540) and everyone who voted against Clark in the Republican primary (2,423) were to vote for him in November, he would still be 38 votes short of the 3,001 total votes Clark received in the primary.

PRECINCT 4 COMMISSIONER

Like Clark, Gaylord Kennedy managed to earn more than 50 percent of the vote in a race that featured two other Republican candidates for Precinct 4 commissioner.

Kennedy won each of the five voting precincts in the Precinct 4 commissioner precinct, and won more than 50 percent of the vote in three of them: 4-13, 4-14 and 4-17, the Bridgeport and Paradise boxes. He won the highest percentage of the vote in 4-13 with 83.57 percent. His lowest total came in 4-16 (Boonsville) with 45.2 percent of the vote.

The runner-up, David Stewart, had his strongest showing in 4-15 (Runaway Bay), where he received 37.54 percent of the vote. His weakest showing was 7.98 percent in 4-13.

Incumbent Terry Ross found the most success in Boonsville with 37.77 percent of the vote. Like Stewart, his lowest vote total came in Precinct 4-13.

With contested races for both commissioner and justice of the peace, it was no surprise that Precinct 4 had the highest number of Republican voters among the four commissioner precincts – 1,721.

Democratic challenger Kristina Kemp is in the same situation as Stegall. She received 148 votes in the primary. If she took all of the Ross and Stewart votes in the general election, she’ll need to convince at least 163 more people to vote for her to be the next Precinct 4 commissioner.

The final numbers from Tuesday’s primary elections will not be available until next week after the ballot board meets to determine if 11 provisional ballots will be accepted. The 11 votes are not enough to change the results of any race.

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No runoff needed; Clark gets majority in 3-man race

No runoff needed; Clark gets majority in 3-man race

The Decatur Visitors Center erupted in whistles and cheers as the final numbers in the Republican primary were posted Tuesday night.

Chico Mayor J.D. Clark decisively won the Republican nomination for county judge with 55.33 percent of the vote, defeating Kyle Stephens and Bridgeport Mayor Keith McComis – with no runoff required.

Decisive Win

DECISIVE WIN – Chico Mayor J.D. Clark gives a thumbs up to his supporters after winning the Republican nomination for county judge. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Clark fist-bumped Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson as he wrote his vote total on the board – 3,001. Stephens received 1,170 votes, and McComis had 1,253.

“I don’t teach math, but that number’s a lot bigger than the two below it!” said Clark, who is also a history teacher at Bowie High School. “This is Wise County saying we believe in Wise County and that we can be better.”

Clark took command of the race early, leading 1,387 to Stephens’ 533 and McComis’ 506. Early voting numbers included absentee votes, which Clark also led with 209 votes to Stephens’ 101 and McComis’ 85. The margin barely fluctuated throughout the night.

“I feel completely incredible. I’m proud of the county, and it’s clear that the majority of us are on the same page,” Clark said. “They’re ready for fresh ideas and positive leadership.”

Stephens said “the voters have spoken.”

“(They) said what they wanted, and that’s what they’re going to have. I wish him all the luck in the world,” he said.

The former county commissioner wasn’t ready to commit to another race Tuesday night, but he didn’t rule it out.

“This is something I always wanted to do, even when I was commissioner, so we’ll have to see in four years,” he said.

McComis also said he might consider running for office again.

“I’m going to leave all those options open … it just depends,” he said. “I do appreciate the support I had, and the best part of this whole thing is I met some great people.

“The county has spoken, and that’s the way it is,” he said.

Clark will face Democratic candidate Jim Stegall in the November general election.

“I’m looking forward to good healthy debates,” Stegall said Tuesday night after congratulating Clark. “I’m just pleased that there were four good candidates for county judge.”

Stegall said since both he and Clark are educators, he expects they’ll both be skillful at informing voters. He noted that he did appreciate those who supported him in the Democratic primary, even though he had no opponent. He received 540 votes.

Clark’s Facebook page blew up as the final numbers were announced.

“So proud of the voters of Wise County. They put a great man in the judge’s office,” posted Clint Mercer.

“I have to say that I am honored to know each person that ran for county judge,” posted Victoria Holder. “I am so proud of J.D. for all of his hard work that he put into his campaign! Congratulations, J. D. Clark!”

Ready for November

READY FOR NOVEMBER – Republican county judge nominee J.D. Clark (left) gets a handshake from his Democratic counterpart, Jim Stegall, after Tuesday primary results were in. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“Congratulations to all the primary winners this eve. Had the pleasure of joining a fine young man and his friends this evening as he waited patiently to see if his hard work paid off,” posted Sabrina Easley. “Congratulations to the Wise County Republican candidate for county judge, Mr. J.D. Clark! Proud to call you a friend!”

Clark’s smile grew wider as he shook an endless stream of hands.

“A lot of people say I make a lot of speeches, but I’m pretty speechless right now,” he said, sinking onto a nearby table and taking a deep breath. “I’m just tickled that 3,001 people want me to work for them.”

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Local voters have say in state races

Statewide results were still being tabulated as the Messenger went to press late Tuesday, but we know how Wise County residents voted.

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY

John Cornyn was the clear favorite among local voters for U.S. senator. He received 59.92 percent of the local vote. The next closest candidate was Steve Stockman with 19.56 percent. None of the other six candidates reached 10 percent.

Mac Thornberry got just more than half of the Wise County votes cast in the District 13 U.S. representative race. The incumbent finished the night with 50.79 percent of the vote. Former Bridgeport resident Elaine Hays received 30.37 percent and Bowie resident Pam Barlow received 18.84 percent.

With 97 percent of the districtwide totals reported late Tuesday, Thornberry held a commanding lead with 67.86 percent of the vote.

For governor, local residents overwhelmingly chose Greg Abbott, who finished with 90.28 percent of the vote over three other candidates. Abbott was cruising to victory late Tuesday with a similar percent of votes statewide.

State Senator Dan Patrick was the local choice for lieutenant governor, taking 43.3 percent of the local vote. David Dewhurst got 24.31 percent, Todd Staples 22.97 and Jerry Patterson 9.41 percent. Statewide, it looked like Patrick and Dewhurst would be in a runoff.

In the race for attorney general, Ken Paxton received 47.61 percent of the Wise County vote. Dan Branch received 40.11 percent and Barry Smitherman 12.28 percent.

In local unopposed races:

  • County Clerk Sherry Coursey Lemon received the most votes with 4,893;
  • District Judge John Fostel had 4,870;
  • County Court-at-Law Judge Melton Cude polled 4,844;
  • Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns received 1,460 votes;
  • Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Lynn Johnson got 1,469;
  • Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Mandy Hopkins Hays received 857 votes;
  • and Republican County Chairman Allen L. Williamson chalked up 4,884.

In other unopposed races, Kay Granger received 1,457 votes for District 12 U.S. representative; Craig Estes received 4,819 votes for District 30 state senator; and Phil King received 4,911 votes for District 61 state representative.

DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY

David M. Alameel was the local favorite for U.S. senator as he received 46.43 percent of the Democratic vote over four other candidates. Kesha Rogers received the second-most votes with 20.52 percent.

Wendy R. Davis was the clear choice for governor as she pulled in 89.77 percent of the Wise County vote compared to 10.23 percent for Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal.

James “Jim” Stegall was the only Democratic candidate for county judge and received 540 votes.

The lone Democratic candidate for Precinct 4 commissioner, Kristina Kemp, received 148 votes.

Matthew Britt of Decatur was unopposed in his bid for the Democratic nomination for District 61 state representative and received 546 votes.

Tracy A. Smith received all 544 votes for Democratic party chair.

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Kennedy wins Republican primary, Ross finishes 3rd

Kennedy wins Republican primary, Ross finishes 3rd

Three ballot boxes from Precinct 4 were the last to trickle in Tuesday night.

But even before they were tallied, Gaylord Kennedy had built up a large lead over his two opponents in the Precinct 4 commissioner’s race. The trend that showed up in the early vote held true as Kennedy ran away with the race once the election-day votes were all in.

Kennedy Wins

KENNEDY WINS – Gaylord Kennedy won the Republican primary race for Precinct 4 county commissioner outright over David Stewart and incumbent Terry Ross. Kennedy talks with Ann Williams after his victory. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I’m looking forward to November and the general election – I’m ready to go,” Kennedy said. “It makes me feel really good and that I have a good start for the fall. I’d like to thank all the voters and citizens of Precinct 4 that supported me.”

Kennedy received 981, or 59 percent, of the votes cast. In order to avoid a runoff election, Kennedy just needed 50 percent plus one of the votes.

“I was hoping to win outright,” Kennedy said. “I thought I might have a good chance. But there are other factors. It’s a race with two other guys, and you never know. But I feel good that so many people gave me their support.”

Although suspended from office since August 2012, incumbent Terry Ross still had some support from the voters. He received 319, or 19 percent, of the Republican votes in the precinct.

Candidate David Stewart received 351, 21 percent, of the vote.

“I was really disappointed with the voter turnout,” Stewart said. “I thought the numbers would be higher. I also thought more people would vote against Terry (Ross).

“It was my first time to run. I learned a few things. I’ll be back in four years, and I plan to do a lot better.”

Ross was unavailable for comment.

With the primary in the past, Kennedy can now look forward to the general election and what he can bring to the county.

“I was in the construction business my whole life,” said Kennedy, who already works for Precinct 4. “I know the county. I know the roads. I’m ready to step right into that.”

Kennedy also said his 12 years as a member of the Bridgeport school board would help him in the position.

“My experience on the school board is going to help me with work in the courthouse,” he said. “Some of the work I did there, such as bond issues and setting the tax rate, runs parallel to the office. I can do this.”

Kristina Kemp, the sole Democratic candidate for the position, ran unopposed in the primary. She said she’s looking forward to the general election in November.

“I was ready regardless of who the winner was,” Kemp said. “I had a feeling it was going to be Gaylord. He’s been a part of the community for a long time. I think it’s going to be a good race, and I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m glad the voters came out in the Republican race and voted for who they thought would be the best candidate for them.”

With the vast majority voting Republican, Kemp garnered 148 votes in the Democratic primary.

“Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get out there and talk with more voters – let them know I have what it takes to get the job done,” Kemp said.

“Honesty, integrity and accountability,” is what Kemp said the voters in her precinct are looking for. “It’s everything that always should have been required of the position. And I think it was, but at some point it just slipped through the cracks.”

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Rowe withstands challenge in clerk’s race

Rowe withstands challenge in clerk’s race

By the time the final box came in Tuesday night, District Clerk Brenda Rowe was ready to go back to work.

Rowe earned her second four-year term with 58 percent of the vote, holding off a challenge in the Republican primary from Callie Watts Manning.

Rowe polled 3,027 votes to Manning’s 2,168.

Victory Smile

VICTORY SMILE – District Clerk Brenda Rowe is finally able to smile Tuesday as the final Republican primary results indicated a win. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I’m very happy, and thankful to the people for entrusting me with this honor,” she said at an election watch party at the Messenger office. “I’m grateful to have a chance to finish the job. It’s coming fast.”

Rowe’s office is under a mandate from the Texas Supreme Court to go all-electronic on records by July 1, 2015. The political campaign was a bit of a distraction, albeit a necessary one.

With no opponent on the Democratic ballot, the GOP primary win means another term for the Paradise resident.

Manning was philosophical about the defeat, noting she pulled a very respectable number of votes against the incumbent.

“Clearly, I’m disappointed, but I feel like I did a good job,” she said. “It’s hard to beat an incumbent. Congratulations to Brenda.”

Rowe polled 1,355 early votes to Manning’s 980 – virtually the same percentage as the final vote.

Surrounded by supporters, she heaved a big sigh of relief and headed home before 10 p.m.

After all, Wednesday was going to be another day in the office.

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Poynor earns 6th term

Clay Poynor has been in politics for almost 20 years. Following the March 4 primary election, he’ll get to tack on an additional four years to his tenure as Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace.

The incumbent barrelled past his opponent Teresa Marney Graves, earning 1,098 of the 1,634 votes cast in the race, or 67.2 percent.

“I had a lot of help,” said Poynor, who won his sixth term. “It takes everybody – the constituents, my family. I have people in Bridgeport, Boonsville, Runaway Bay. I couldn’t have done it without all of them and hard work and dedication.

“People don’t realize how hard it is until they’re doing it,” he continued. “It takes a lot of work, especially if you hold a job.”

Poynor began his political career 24 years ago, when then-Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Dewayne Kennedy decided not to seek re-election.

“He was the one who gave me inspiration,” Poynor said. “I wanted to interact with people and help them, which is what I’ve strived to do.

“Usually, the people that come in are mad, but I like being able to help people how I can – work with them and give them as much information as I can.”

Although his political career has spanned almost two decades, he hasn’t served those years consecutively.

“I lost one term,” he said. “So I’ve been on both sides of the program – I know what it’s like to win, and I know what it’s like to lose.”

Regardless of whether he won or lost, Poynor said he always worked hard and gave it his best, just as his opponent did.

“My opponent ran a fair race,” he said. “We both got out and campaigned and gave it our all. Luckily, I drew more votes.”

Graves, who garnered 536 votes, acknowledged that although she worked hard, she could identify areas of improvement.

“I talked to a lot of people and gave people a choice,” she said. “I guess they didn’t want change. If I were to do it again, I’ll definitely decide to do it earlier so I can start (campaigning) earlier. And I’ll definitely have more funds … I’ll consider running again.”

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Hudson back in with primary win

Katherine Canova Hudson won re-election as county treasurer in commanding fashion in the Republican primary Tuesday night.

She doesn’t have a Democratic opponent, so her win this week secures for her another four-year term.

Hudson defeated first-time candidate Daniel Rivas 2,143 to 769, earning 73.59 percent of the vote. She took the lead right away with early voting receiving 1,457 votes to Rivas’ 541.

“I’m just grateful that they gave me four more years, and maybe I can sleep tonight,” she said. “And tomorrow I go to work like usual and work for the citizens.

Rivas, who is manager of Casa Torres Mexican restaurant in Decatur, said it was a learning experience and a great opportunity.

“Hopefully I can come back next time and come back stronger,” he said. “Now I know the process, and next time I can work even harder than this time.

“It was a new experience and a good experience for me,” he said. “I want to thank all the people who did come out and support me. Like I said, I’ll come back and get better.”

Rivas said in the meantime, he may consider serving the community in other ways.

“I haven’t thought too much about it, but I’m going to try to look forward and see what all opportunities are out there.”

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Morrow wins 5th term

Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Jan Morrow handily won a fifth term in office in Tuesday’s Republic primary.

Morrow garnered 69 percent of the vote enroute to an 882-393 victory over Joshua Reynolds, an investigator with the Wise County Sheriff’s office.

“I would like to say that I appreciate the people of Wise County – the people of Precinct 1 especially,” she said. “Freedom is about people’s choices, and the people’s choices have been stated tonight.”

Morrow’s margin in the early voting was just over 70 percent at 488-204.

Reynolds could not be reached for comment.

Without an opponent on the Democratic ballot, Morrow is assured of re-election this November. She said she enjoys her job and is excited about civil law reform, electronic filing and the opportunity to continue serving the people of Wise County.

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Primary task: Vote Tuesday

After months of campaign pitches, candidates will now hear from the voters.

Election day for the Democratic and Republican primaries is Tuesday. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (See below for polling locations.) Be sure to note that Precincts 2-7 and 2-8 will vote at a new location this year: Assumption Catholic Church, 1305 S. Deer Park in Decatur. Also, be sure to bring a photo identification.

Early voting ended Friday with a total of 2,311 ballots cast. That is up from the 1,869 early votes from the primary elections four years ago. This year’s total includes 2,156 votes in the local Republican primary and 155 votes in the local Democratic primary.

Local candidates on the Democratic primary ballot include the following:

County judge – James “Jim” Stegall

Precinct 4 commissioner – Kristina Kemp

Local candidates on the Republican primary ballot include the following:

District judge – John Fostel

County judge – Kyle Stephens, J.D. Clark and Keith McComis

County Court-at-Law No. 1 judge – Melton Cude

District clerk – Brenda Starnes Rowe and Callie Watts Manning

County clerk – Sherry Coursey Lemon

County treasurer – Katherine Canova Hudson and Daniel E. Rivas

Precinct 2 commissioner – Kevin Burns

Precinct 4 commissioner – Terry Ross, Gaylord Kennedy and David Stewart

Precinct 1 justice of the peace – Jan Morrow and Josh Reynolds

Precinct 2 justice of the peace – Terri Lynn Johnson

Precinct 3 justice of the peace – Mandy Hopkins Hays

Precinct 4 justice of the peace – Clay Poynor and Teresa Marney Graves

Other contested races include U.S. senator, District 13 U.S. representative, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, commissioner of the General Land Office, commissioner of agriculture, railroad commissioner, Supreme Court chief justice, Places 6 and 8 on the Supreme Court and Places 3, 4 and 9 on the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The Wise County Messenger will hold an election-night watch party beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Messenger office located at 115 S. Trinity St. in Decatur. The public and candidates are invited. Refreshments will be served.

Results will be posted as they are available at WCMessenger.com, and full coverage of Tuesday’s election will be featured in the midweek Messenger on newsstands Wednesday.

POLLING LOCATIONS

PRECINCT 1-1
Decatur City Hall
201 East Walnut St., Decatur

PRECINCT 1-2
Ag Extension Building
206 S. State St., Decatur

PRECINCT 1-3
First Baptist Church
119 CR 2822, Slidell

PRECINCT 1-4
Masonic Lodge, 1st floor
147 CR 2640, Greenwood

PRECINCT 1-5
East Wise Fire Hall
107 CR 4421, Blewett

PRECINCT 1-6
New Fairview Community Center
Farm Road 407 E., New Fairview

PRECINCT 2-7
Assumption Catholic Church
1305 S. Deer Park, Decatur

PRECINCT 2-8
Assumption Catholic Church
1305 S. Deer Park, Decatur

PRECINCT 2-9
Alvord City Hall
215 W. Elm, Alvord

PRECINCT 2-10
Victory Baptist Church
4346 Texas 101 N., Sunset

PRECINCT 2-11
Crafton Baptist Church
Fellowship Hall
2590 FM 2127, Crafton

PRECINCT 2-12
Chico Public Library
106 W. Jacksboro, Chico

PRECINCT 4-13
Bridgeport High School
One Maroon Drive, Bridgeport

PRECINCT 4-14
Lions Hall
1107 8th St., Bridgeport

PRECINCT 4-15
Norma Coble Civic Center
51 Runaway Bay Dr., Runaway Bay

PRECINCT 4-16
Boonsville Community Center
West on Farm Road 920 off County Road 3743, Boonsville

PRECINCT 4-17
First United Methodist Church
Activity Center
302 S. Oak, Paradise

PRECINCT 2-18
Bridgeport Recreation Center
1102 Lawdwin, Bridgeport

PRECINCT 2-19
Lake Bridgeport Fire Hall
301 S. Main St., Lake Bridgeport

PRECINCT 3-20
Cottondale Community Center
161 CR 3571 off Farm Road 2123, Cottondale

PRECINCT 1-22
Ag Extension Building
206 S. State St., Decatur

PRECINCT 3-23
Boyd Community Center
420 E. Morton Ave., Boyd

PRECINCT 3-24
Newark Fire Hall
406 Hudson St., Newark

PRECINCT 3-25
Boyd Community Center
420 E. Morton Ave., Boyd

PRECINCT 3-27
Boyd Community Center
420 E. Morton Ave., Boyd

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City, school ballots set

The filing period for May 10 city council and school board elections ended Friday.

Wise County voters will face choices in eight city council and six school board races this spring. Listed below are the candidates who filed for office. Entities holding special elections to fill vacancies can accept filings until March 10.

ALVORD CITY COUNCIL

Place 3 – Kirk Gibson (incumbent)

Place 4 – Debra McKelvain, Shane Raney, Lenda Barnes

Place 5 – Jim Enochs (incumbent)

ALVORD SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – Lex Williams, Tracy Barclay Parker, Lance Thweatt

Place 7 – Jeannette Ward (incumbent), Charles Neal Matthews

BOYD CITY COUNCIL

Place 1 – (no one has filed)

Place 2 – Tim Hammonds

Place 3 – (no one has filed)

Place 5 – (no one has filed)

BOYD SCHOOL BOARD

Place 1 – Rebecca Parr

Place 2 – Jake Tackett

Place 3 – Jana Tate (incumbent)

BRIDGEPORT CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Kathy Kennedy, Corey Lane

Place 1 – A.Z. Smith (incumbent), David Correll

Place 2 – Calvin Coursey, Art Velasquez

Place 3 – Jimmy Meyers (incumbent)

BRIDGEPORT SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – Ken Kilpatrick (incumbent), Donald Majka

Place 7 – Marti Hines (incumbent), Robert Marlett, Steve Stanford

CHICO CITY COUNCIL

At-large (2 seats) – Karen Garrison (incumbent), Greta McDaniel

Partial term – Louise Gossett (incumbent)

CHICO SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – G.A. Buckner (incumbent), J.D. Coffman

Place 7 – Doug Bowyer (incumbent), Noel Ruddick

DECATUR SCHOOL BOARD

Place 3 – Jim Lamirand, Pete Rivera, Ricky Stutt

Place 4 – Jeff Alling (incumbent), Charles Ross

DECATUR CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Martin Woodruff (incumbent)

Place 1 – Carmelina Holloway

Place 3 – Cary Bohn (incumbent)

Place 5 – Jay Davidson (incumbent)

NEWARK CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Darla Loggains

Place 1 – (no one has filed)

Place 2 – Doug Anderson (incumbent)

Place 3 – Linda Anderson (incumbent)

Place 4 – (no one has filed)

NORTHWEST SCHOOL BOARD

Place 5 – Devonna Holland (incumbent), Jerry Burkett

Place 6 – Kristi Wade, Edward Mergenthal, Lillian Rauch, Andrew Bennett, Stan Durham

Place 7 – Mel Fuller (incumbent), Doug Smith

RHOME CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Louis Godfrey, David Wilson, Mark Lorance

At-large (2 seats) – Jo Ann Wilson (incumbent), Michelle Pittman (incumbent), Timothy Robison, Shawn Holliman, Jason Miller

RUNAWAY BAY CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Robert Ryan (incumbent)

At-large (2 seats) – Neil Peters (incumbent), Kay Simmons (incumbent)

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Clark’s contributions top $10K

Republican county judge candidate J.D. Clark topped $10,000 in campaign contributions, according to the most recent finance reports.

In the last month, Clark collected $2,700 to bring his total campaign contributions to $10,400 leading up to the March 4 primary.

Time to Vote

TIME TO VOTE – Early voting continues 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through the end of this week at Decatur City Hall, the Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center and Rhome City Hall. Candidates Monday turned in their final campaign finance reports before the March 4 primary election. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The reports turned in Monday detail contributions and expenditures from Jan. 24 to Feb. 22. All opposed candidates are required by the Texas Ethics Commission to file the report.

Fellow judge candidate Keith McComis reported $3,285 in contributions, which is more than he collected in the prior two reporting periods combined. The most recent contributions bring his campaign total to $6,085.

Kyle Stephens reported only $150 in contributions Jan. 24 – Feb. 22 and reported no contributions in previous reports.

Democratic county judge candidate Jim Stegall reported a single $2,000 donation, bringing his total campaign contributions to $2,035.

McComis led all candidates in expenditures during this time period with $4,665.36. Clark followed with $3,381.39 and Stephens spent $1,390.40. Total expenditures by Republican county judge candidates include $9,601.17 by McComis; $8,312.97 by Clark; and $4,326.50 by Stephens.

Stegall, the lone Democrat, has spent $2,518.74.

Below is a list of candidates and the information as it appears on their campaign finance report forms.

COUNTY JUDGE – REPUBLICANS

  • J.D. Clark: $2,700 contributions, $3,381.39 expenditures

Contributions included $1,000 from Louis Dorfman of Dallas; $600 each from Mike Overton and Richard Pietila, both of Decatur; $150 from Kevin Burns of Decatur; $100 each from Bob Johnson of Alvord, Rayce Cantwell of Decatur and Kelly Myers of Decatur.

Clark reported $50 in donations of $50 or less.

  • Keith McComis: $3,285 contributions, $4,665.36 expenditures
  • Contributions included $1,000 from John Coker of Decatur; $500 from Crisp Industries in Bridgeport; $250 each from Dan Selz, Gary Green and Dwayne Kennedy, all of Bridgeport; $200 from R.D. Molloy of Bridgeport; and $100 each from Tom Messer of Runaway Bay, Leon Wilkerson of Bridgeport and Robert and Deborah Rankin of Decatur. Messer also made a second contribution of $100.

    McComis reported $285 in donations of $50 or less.

    • Kyle Stephens: $150 contributions, $1,390.40 expenditures

    Contributions included $100 from Mr. and Mrs. Geary L. Washburn of Decatur and $50 from Frances Janecka of Decatur.

    Stephens also reported $100 in donations of $50 or less. His total contributions reported does not appear to include this amount.

    DEMOCRAT

    • Jim Stegall: $2,000 contributions, $1,048.86 expenditures

    Contributions included $2,000 from Tom and Lori Chivers of Carrollton.

    PRECINCT 4 COUNTY COMMISSIONER – REPUBLICANS

    • Gaylord Kennedy: $0 contributions, $2,662 expenditures
    • David Stewart: $0 contributions, $1,401.76 expenditures
    • Terry Ross: $0 contributions, $0 expenditures

    DEMOCRAT

    • Kristina Kemp: $200 contributions, $141.98 expenditures
    • Contributions included $100 each from Billy Kemp of Boyd and Jim and Pat Stegall of Bridgeport.

      DISTRICT CLERK – REPUBLICANS

      • Brenda Rowe: $100 contributions, $1,042.88 expenditures

      Rowe reported a single $100 contribution from Lisa Summers of Colleyville.

      • Callie Manning: $100 contributions, $1,390.40 expenditures

      Manning reported a $100 contribution from J.E. Haynes of Decatur.

      COUNTY TREASURER – REPUBLICANS

      • Katherine Hudson: $0 contributions; $2,075.82 expenditures
      • Daniel Rivas: $0 contributions; $1,498.33 expenditures

      PRECINCT 1 JUSTICE OF THE PEACE – REPUBLICANS

      • Jan Morrow: $0 contributions, $224.59 expenditures
      • Josh Reynolds: $0 contributions, $637.81 expenditures

      PRECINCT 4 JUSTICE OF THE PEACE – REPUBLICANS

      • Clay Poynor: $0 contributions, $281.25 expenditures
      • Teresa Graves: $290 contributions, $465.37 expenditures

      Graves reported a $100 contribution from Michelle Payton of Decatur and $190 in donations of $50 or less.

      Early voting continues 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through the end of this week at Decatur City Hall, the Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center and Rhome City Hall.

      WATCH PARTY

      The Wise County Messenger will host an election night watch party starting 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4. After the polls close, hang out at the Messenger, 115 S. Trinity St., in Decatur to watch the numbers roll in. The public and candidates are invited. Refreshments will be served.

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Candidates continue to file

With the filing period for the May 10 city council and school board elections ending this Friday, Feb. 28, ballots are beginning to take shape in eight city council and six school board races in Wise County.

Listed below are those who have filed for office as of Tuesday afternoon. The entities will continue to accept candidates until the close of business Friday, although those holding special elections to fill vacant seats can accept filings until March 10.

ALVORD CITY COUNCIL

Place 3 – Kirk Gibson (incumbent)
Place 4 – Debra McKelvain
Place 5 – Jim Enochs (incumbent)

ALVORD SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – Lex Williams
Place 7 – Jeannette Ward (incumbent) and Charles Neal Matthews

BOYD CITY COUNCIL

Place 1 – (no one has filed)
Place 2 – Tim Hammonds
Place 3 – (no one has filed)
Place 5 – (no one has filed)

BOYD SCHOOL BOARD

Place 1 – Rebecca Parr
Place 2 – Jake Tackett
Place 3 – Jana Tate (incumbent)

BRIDGEPORT CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Kathy Kennedy, Corey Lane
Place 1 – A.Z. Smith (incumbent)
Place 2 – Calvin Coursey
Place 3 – Jimmy Meyers (incumbent)

BRIDGEPORT SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – Ken Kilpatrick (incumbent) and Donald Majka
Place 7 – Marti Hines (incumbent), Robert Marlett and Steve Stanford

CHICO CITY COUNCIL

At-large (2 seats) – Karen Garrison
Partial term – Louise Gossett (incumbent)

CHICO SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – G.A. Buckner (incumbent) and J.D. Coffman
Place 7 – Doug Bowyer (incumbent) and Noel Ruddick

DECATUR SCHOOL BOARD

Place 3 – Jim Lamirand and Pete Rivera
Place 4 – Jeff Alling (incumbent)

DECATUR CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Martin Woodruff (incumbent)
Place 1 – Carmelina Holloway
Place 3 – Cary Bohn (incumbent)
Place 5 – Jay Davidson (incumbent)

NEWARK CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Darla Loggains
Place 1 – (no one has filed)
Place 2 – Doug Anderson (incumbent)
Place 3 – Linda Anderson (incumbent)
Place 4 – (no one has filed)

NORTHWEST SCHOOL BOARD

Place 5 – Devonna Holland (incumbent) and Jerry Burkett
Place 6 – Kristi Wade, Edward Mergenthal and Lillian Rauch
Place 7 – Mel Fuller (incumbent)

RHOME CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Louis Godfrey and Mark Lorance
At-large (2 seats) – Jo Ann Wilson (incumbent), Michelle Pittman (incumbent), Timothy Robison and Jason Miller

RUNAWAY BAY CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Robert Ryan (incumbent)
At-large (2 seats) – Neil Peters (incumbent) and Kay Simmons (incumbent)

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Early voting reaches midpoint

The first week of early voting in the March 4 election ends today.

Through the first four days of early voting (Tuesday through Friday), 671 votes had been cast in the Republican primary and 57 in the Democratic primary for a total of 728 votes.

Wal-Mart in Decatur will host early voting 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. Early voting continues 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Feb. 28, at three locations: Decatur City Hall, the Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center and Rhome City Hall.

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Candidates continue to file

The filing period for the May 10 city council and school board elections ends Friday, Feb. 28.

Listed below are the places on this year’s ballot. Below the name of each entity are the people currently in those positions, and following is a paragraph with information on who had filed as of Friday afternoon.

ALVORD CITY COUNCIL

Place 3 – Kirk Gibson
Place 4 – Megan Adams
Place 5 – Jim Enochs

Enochs has filed for re-election. Kirk Gibson has filed for Place 3.

ALVORD SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – Currently unfilled
Place 7 – Jeannette Ward

Ward has filed for re-election. Lex Williams has filed for Place 6, and Charles Neal Matthews has filed for Place 7.

BOYD CITY COUNCIL

Place 1 – Rodney Holmes
Place 3 – Crystal Keiper
Place 5 – Gary Brown

A special election will be held for place 2 for a one-year term. The position was formerly held by Rodney Scroggin who is now mayor. As of Friday, no one had filed for any of the positions.

BOYD SCHOOL BOARD

Place 1 – Kim Hudson
Place 2 – Pam Galloway
Place 3 – Jana Tate

Rebecca Parr has filed for Place 1 and Jake Tackett for Place 2. Tate has filed for re-election to Place 3.

BRIDGEPORT CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Keith McComis

Place 1 – A.Z. Smith
Place 2 – Kathy Kennedy

A special election will also be held for Place 3. Jimmy Meyers was appointed to the post in August to fill a vacancy created when Kevin Lopez resigned. Although there are two years left on the term, according to local government code, the person appointed to fill the vacancy serves only until the next regular election.

Kennedy and Corey Lane have filed for mayor, Smith has filed for re-election and Meyers filed for his current post, Place 3.

BRIDGEPORT SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – Ken Kilpatrick
Place 7 – Marti Hines

Kilpatrick and Donald Majka have filed for Place 6. Hines, Robert Marlett and Steve Stanford have filed for Place 7.

CHICO CITY COUNCIL

Two at-large seats are up for election as well as a partial term. The at-large seats are held by Karen Garrison and Aracely Cuevas. The seat for the partial term is held by Louise Gossett, who was appointed last year.

Garrison has filed for re-election. Gossett has also filed.

CHICO SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – G.A. Buckner
Place 7 – Doug Bowyer

Buckner and J.D. Coffman have filed for Place 6.

Bowyer and Noel Ruddick have filed for Place 7.

DECATUR SCHOOL BOARD

Place 3 – Alan White (has announced his intention to retire)
Place 4 – Jeff Alling

Alling has filed for re-election.

Jim Lamirand and Pete Rivera have filed for Place 3.

DECATUR CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Martin Woodruff
Place 1 – Dana Clinesmith
Place 3 – Cary Bohn
Place 5 – Jay Davidson

Davidson, Woodruff and Bohn have all filed for re-election. Carmelina Holloway has filed for Place 1.

NEWARK CITY COUNCIL

Place 1 – Bob Wells
Place 2 – Doug Anderson
Place 3 – Linda Anderson

A special one-year term election will be held for mayor, currently held by Gary Van Wagner, and Place 4 held by Taylor Burton.

No one had filed as of Friday.

NORTHWEST SCHOOL BOARD

Place 5 – Devonna Holland
Place 6 – Currently unfilled
Place 7 – Mel Fuller

Holland of Rhome and Jerry Burkett of Fort Worth have filed for place 5. Kristi Wade of Trophy Club has filed for place 6, while Fuller of Trophy Club has filed for place 7.

RHOME CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Chris Moore

Two at-large council positions currently held by Jo Ann Wilson and Michelle Pittman.

Pittman, Wilson and Jason Miller have filed for city council, and Louis Godfrey and Mark Lorance have filed for mayor.

RUNAWAY BAY CITY COUNCIL

The mayor and two council at-large seats are up for election. These posts are held by Robert Ryan, and Neil Peters and Kay Simmons, respectively.

Ryan has filed for mayor, and Peters and Simmons have filed for re-election.

Paradise City Council and school board and Slidell school board will conduct a joint election with the county in the fall. For the Paradise entities, this was in response to Senate Bill 100, which aimed at making the voting process easier and faster for military and overseas voters for primary and gubernatorial elections through the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

Filing doesn’t begin until the fall.

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Commissioner candidates delve into issues

With four candidates running, the race for Precinct 4 county commissioner has generated a buzz among voters. Monday night all the candidates attended the primary election forum hosted by the Bridgeport Lions Club and outlined their goals and ideas on hot-button issues.

Republicans facing off in the March 4 primary include Gaylord Kennedy, David Stewart and current Precinct 4 Commissioner Terry Ross, who pleaded guilty last fall to abuse of official capacity and has been suspended since August 2012.

The Republican winner will face Democrat Kristina Kemp in November’s general election.

Kristina Kemp

Democrat Kristina Kemp addresses the crowd at the Bridgeport Lions Club. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Each candidate was given three minutes to introduce themselves and present their platforms before the program shifted to a question-and-answer session.

Ross was the first to speak and told voters that he “runs a tight ship.”

Terry Ross

Kelly Ross bends the ear of her husband, Republican candidate Terry Ross, during Monday’s event. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I have a smaller crew and can get more done,” he said, noting that his payroll regularly runs $200,000 to $250,000 less than the other three precincts.

He also told the crowd that he doesn’t waste taxpayer money, and he looks forward to working with a new county judge.

Kennedy, a supervisor in Precinct 4, said his thorough knowledge of county roads in combination with his experience serving on the Bridgeport school board makes him a good candidate.

Gaylord Kennedy

Republican Gaylord Kennedy outlines his qualifications to be county commissioner. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Stewart, who is also employed in Precinct 4, said he can make more improvements with less money.

“We can cut $200,000 to $300,000 right of the top of this thing and do with less than what we’re doing right now,” he said.

David Stewart

Republican David Stewart waits for his turn at the podium. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Kemp noted that she has 12 years experience in business management and production control and has handled contracts totaling $40 million. She also told voters that commissioners recently appointed her to the advisory board of directors for the County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone, and she is a volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Wise and Jack counties.

Kemp also founded the first student volunteer organization at Weatherford College Wise County.

After introducing themselves, candidates addressed questions from the crowd. Two of the five questions submitted for the Precinct 4 candidates were not asked because they were deemed by the moderators as a personal attack.

BUDGET

Candidates were instead asked how much money is in the Precinct 4 budget, how they planned to spend it and what projects would be best served with that money.

Kemp said last year that Precinct 4 came in $800,000 under budget, and she wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.

“That’s a lot of money, and it makes me wonder if something didn’t get done,” she said. “I have looked at the budget previously, and the numbers have been very good. We get a decent amount of work done.”

She did say she’d like to see money earmarked for youth and to provide services to help meet the needs of children in Wise County.

Stewart said the 2013 budget wasn’t available when he attempted to get a copy. He said the precinct is currently running under-budget in part because interim Commissioner Glenn Hughes, who was appointed when Ross was suspended, has tried to be conservative in his spending and not make financial commitments that would be difficult for the next commissioner to maintain.

“He didn’t want to spend a lot of money, just being interim,” Stewart said, “and he’s cut back on a lot of things that he normally would do because he didn’t want to make certain commitments so he hasn’t spent a lot of money.

“If you don’t spend it, you lose it,” he said. “You give it back and give it to the other precincts and that doesn’t compute.”

Stewart indicated he would like commissioners to reconsider a 2011 decision that requires a portion of the leftover road money in each precinct be put in a road-and-bridge reserve fund. Money in the reserve fund can be used by any precinct for roadwork, as long as the withdrawal is first approved by the other commissioners.

Kennedy and Ross both said the Precinct 4 budget is right at $2 million.

Kennedy said since most are paved, he wants to evaluate the safety of the roads. He said people drive faster on the paved roads and sometimes safety has been overlooked.

He said guard rails already have been installed in some areas, and it’s something that will continue to be studied. He also noted that he and Hughes had discussed using more asphalt on the roads instead of chip and seal.

Ross took issue with the other candidates, saying the roads were “done.” He indicated that Precinct 4 had recently “wasted” $60,000 because crews simply re-topped instead of tearing out and redoing, as Ross had scheduled.

“TxDOT says a road has a seven-year life,” he said. “We’ve got roads that we can get a 15-year life out of and some that only last seven. If you put them on a 10-year cycle, you’d have to do 21 miles per year.”

He said after purchasing materials, it doesn’t leave much money for fuel and equipment.

EARTHQUAKES

Candidates also were asked to address the earthquake issues affecting Wise County residents – and if they thought the oil and gas industry was to blame.

“It’s not the actual fracking. It’s the water injection sites,” Kemp said. “… I’m not afraid to say it.”

Kemp said she hoped water used in fracking could be recycled, which would reduce the water injection sites and in turn, eliminate the problem.

Ross said he doesn’t know if the oil and gas industry is to blame, but he anticipates a battle. He emphasized the power of energy companies.

Kennedy said the state is investigating the issue, and he hopes the Railroad Commission’s study will uncover an answer.

“The jury is out on it, and they have someone at the state level trying to figure it out,” he said. “Maybe (oil and gas) is the problem, maybe not. The faults are way below where the injection wells go to. Do I think it’s causing it? I don’t know.”

Stewart said no one knows for sure.

“Only God can tell us exactly what happened,” he said. “I really don’t believe that it was the injection wells or fracking or anything like that … Once the geologists make a decision then we’ll have to address it at that point.”

FIRE DEPARTMENTS

The final question of the night was about fire department funding and if commissioners thought it should be increased.

All agreed departments could use more the money if available.

“They shouldn’t be out begging for money to save someone’s life,” Stewart said. “They need to be able to buy whatever equipment they need to save someone’s life.”

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The Decatur Wal-Mart, 800 S. U.S. 81/287, is hosting early voting 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 22. Early voting continues through Feb. 28 at three locations in Wise County, including Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut; Rhome City Hall, 105 First St.; and the Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center, 1000 Thompson St.

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Thrown to the Lions; Candidates talk at forum

Thrown to the Lions; Candidates talk at forum

The Bridgeport Lions Club packed the house Monday night for a primary election candidate forum.

Republican and Democratic candidates stumped on the eve of early voting for the March 4 primary, with the county judge race taking center stage.

Wiating in the Wings

WAITING IN THE WINGS – Republican candidates for Wise County judge, (from left) J.D. Clark, Keith McComis and Kyle Stephens, wait patiently for their turn at the podium Monday night. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Candidates were given three minutes to introduce themselves and present their platforms before the program shifted to a question-and-answer session.

Kyle Stephens introduced himself as a lifelong resident of Wise County and said he’s aspired to run for county judge for years.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” the former county commissioner said. “When I first ran [for commissioner], that was my goal, to come back and run for judge.

“Judge McElhaney was a friend of mine, and I wouldn’t have run against him but upon his unfortunate death, it’s allowed me the opportunity.”

Chico Mayor J.D. Clark said a love for public service prompted him to run for county judge.

“Public service is my passion. It’s what led me to run for city council, led me to being a teacher, led me to run for mayor and now as a candidate for county judge,” he said. “I believe in the potential of Wise County, and it’s time for fresh, innovative leadership.”

Bridgeport Mayor Keith McComis said he’s been involved in community activities his entire life. He said he’s not a politician, but a public servant.

“I’ll be leaving my position better than where I found it,” he said of his mayoral post. “By the end of the fiscal year, we will have nine to 12 months of operating expenses in reserve, and this was done without a tax increase.”

Democratic candidate Jim Stegall spoke last.

“Ditto, ditto, ditto to all those guys,” he said. “Although I like them, I look forward to running against one of those guys.”

Stegall will face the winner of the Republican primary in the Nov. 4 general election. He told voters that he wants to work to ensure transparency and oversight of county activities. If elected, he also plans to manage county growth, keeping quality-of-life issues in mind along the way.

WATER

When the program shifted to the question-and-answer portion, audience members wanted county judge candidates to address long-range water planning, economic development, earthquakes and the local fairgrounds.

Candidates were asked their opinion of metering individual water wells, an idea that got no support.

As for a long-range water plan, candidates agreed action needed to be taken. McComis said the issue would require the cooperation of local entities as well as those at the state and federal levels.

“It’s very important with the growth that’s coming that we act and act quickly to get a water plan in place so our future generations will be supplied,” said Stephens.

Clark said he’s not content to wait on the state to solve the problem.

“We’ve seen how the state tends to operate,” he said.

Clark said Wise County is rich in human resources that should all come to the table to discuss and devise a plan.

“We do have an obstacle with the Tarrant Regional Water District, but they don’t control all the water rights,” he said.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

All candidates also strongly believe Wise County can benefit from economic development.

“You have to forget about bringing businesses to the north or south,” said Stephens. “It doesn’t matter where business goes, it will benefit everyone.”

Clark said the county judge is chief executive for the entire county, and it’s his job to pitch businesses on the benefits of the county.

“Which city they come to shouldn’t matter to the judge, just get them inside these borders,” he said.

McComis had looked into economic development corporations in Hood and Ellis counties and said he thinks something similar could be worked out for Wise.

“They’re unique and individual, but it can be done and I would work for that,” he said.

Stegall said Wise County needs to consider incoming growth and the fact that the outer loop of the Metroplex is coming into the eastern side of the county.

“We have to overcome logistics,” he said. He emphasized that the balance of education, employment training and economic development will lead to a greater quality of life for citizens.

EARTHQUAKES

Candidates were asked to address the earthquake issues affecting Wise County residents – and if they thought the oil and gas industry was to blame.

Stegall said to get to the root of the issue the county needs an elected representative to “go to bat for us.”

“We need to get the whole state involved in this,” he said.

McComis said the earthquakes start much deeper than where fracking occurs.

“It’s basically the nature of the earth,” he said. “If the oil field is doing it, then we’re all at risk because we live in the middle of it. It’s just something that you have to play by ear and hope it’s Mother Nature and it’ll go away one day.”

Clark said obviously something has changed that’s started causing the earthquakes, and he’s receptive to hearing more about the research and moving forward from that point.

Stephens said he wasn’t sure if it was the oil and gas industry or not.

“… I don’t know but we have to wait and see what they determine or what they think … again, that’s Mother Nature,” he said. “It comes from a higher power than anyone in this room.

“You can’t stop oil and gas,” he said. “That’s the rock we lean on. Until they actually tell us what’s causing it, there’s nothing that we can go forward with.”

FAIRGROUNDS

The group was also asked if they felt the way in which the county seized the fairgrounds from the Wise County Sheriff’s Posse was fair to citizens and the Posse, and what they would do to restore the relationship and transparency to county government.

Stephens said he was a former Sheriff’s Posse member and he wasn’t sure the relationship could be mended at this time.

“It can in time, but that will be long after me I’m afraid,” he said. “If elected county judge, I will move forward to make sure facilities are kept up and make sure the youth of the county have a place to go.”

Clark said he agrees that the county needs a first-class fairgrounds facility, but with all the “hurt feelings and hard feelings, obviously, things could have been handled better.”

He said although he couldn’t undo what’s already happened, he’s committed to being a bridge builder in the community.

“We’re going to be in this together and have a fairgrounds that we all approve of and can be proud of,” he said.

McComis said it’s hard to find an answer or fault.

“It’s a shame that it ended the way it ended …” he said. “But it needs to be something we need to take pride in no matter where it’s at. Without knowing what went on on both sides, I can’t tell you what I’d do.”

Stegall said if elected, he looks forward to working with commissioners to bring it back to a “world-class place.”

Brenda Rowe

I’m assuring a perfect transition from a paper to electronic record system. I’m prepared for the future as well as protecting the past by preserving historical documents.” Brenda Rowe, Rep.

Terry Ross

“I run a tight ship in my barn. I have a smaller crew and can get more done. My payroll runs $200,000 to $250,000 less [than other precincts].” Terry Ross, Rep.

David Stewart

“I believe I can make more improvements with less money. I think we can cut the budgets. All these roads are just about done in Precinct 4. All we need to do is maintenance.” David Stewart, Rep.

Jan Morrow

“We’re touching the lives of many over criminal and civil proceedings. They’re matters that affect not only individuals but also the entire county and beyond. … It’s about having fair and equal justice for our families and communities.” Jan Morrow, Rep.

Callie Manning

“The scope of my job has given me the opportunity to experience (electronic) systems … Many larger counties are more advanced in their filing systems, so I have experience with those. Since I started with (Simpson, Boyd and Powers) 14 years ago, I’ve been preparing for this job.” Callie Manning, Rep.

Gaylord Kennedy

“I’m a supervisor in Precinct 4 and have thorough knowledge of roads throughout the precinct. I believe with my experience I’m qualified to be commissioner of Precinct 4 and look forward to serving Wise County.” Gaylord Kennedy, Rep.

Kristina Kemp

“Honesty, accountability and transparency is what this office needs, and we should demand it from the next commissioner. And I believe I can fulfill these requirements.” Kristina Kemp, Dem.

Josh Reynolds

“I want to continue to be a public servant as a JP. I work for the citizens of Wise County, and I want to continue. The citizens deserve a friendly, helpful JP.” Josh Reynolds, Rep.

Katherine Hudson

“This is not a position for me, this is a passion for me. If it wasn’t for the taxpayer, we wouldn’t be here. The taxpayers allow us to serve for y’all. The taxpayer is not an interruption. That’s what we’re there for.” Katherine Hudson, Rep.

Clay Poynor

“I have the opportunity to assist people at their best and sometimes at their worst. … All people want to be welcome, understood, comfortable and informed.” Clay Poynor, Rep.

Teresa Graves

“It matters who our local politicians are and how they’re perceived in other counties. I want to improve on what we already have because we’re a great group of people, and I’m proud to live here.” Teresa Graves, Rep.

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Candidates running for Precinct 4 commissioner were also asked about the precinct budgets and to address the issue of earthquakes affecting Wise County residents. Read their responses in the Feb. 22 issue of the Messenger.

—–

Unopposed candidates who also spoke included Melton Cude, running for re-election as County Court-at-Law No. 1 judge; Terri Johnson, running for re-election as Precinct 2 justice of the peace; and Tracy Smith, running for Wise County Democratic Party chair. Daniel Rivas, running for county treasurer, was the only opposed candidate not in attendance.

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Candidates outline ideas

Three candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for Wise County judge in the March 4 primary. They will appear on the ballot in the following order: Kyle Stephens, J.D. Clark, Keith McComis.

The Messenger devised a list of topics that the next county judge will likely face and asked the candidates six questions related to these topics. The men were asked to submit written responses of 150 words or less.

The questions are listed below, followed by each candidate’s name and their answers. Anything more than 150 words was deleted, and that is noted.

1. In this year’s campaign, a county water plan has been mentioned, but county government has not traditionally devised water plans. Why is this important and how would you address it?

2. It’s no secret that county office space is at a premium. What is the biggest facilities issue faced by the county, and how should it be addressed?

3. Although many local cities have economic development corporations, the county has never pursued a countywide EDC. In your opinion, is that important? Why or why not? If you support the idea, how would it work and how would it be funded?

4. What role should the county have in regional and state organizations such as the North Central Texas Council of Governments and why?

5. In recent years, the local fire departments have held fundraisers to purchase needed equipment. Do you think the fire departments are adequately funded?

6. How do you think the county handled the takeover of the fairgrounds? Would you have done anything differently? If so, please explain.

Kyle Stephens

KYLE STEPHENS

1. Water has always been an issue but one that was not widely discussed. We have always taken it for granted. This issue has been looked at as not being a big problem by most, but as the population grows, the demand for water follows. It has become more important in recent years with the droughts which have been endured.

As county judge, I will work with county and state officials to get Wise County involved with the newly activated Proposition 6. Proposition 6 creates and constitutionally dedicates two new funds: the state water implementation fund for Texas and the state water implementation revenue fund for Texas. The 2012 state water plan contains numerous strategies to meet water demands during droughts. These strategies are the water supply projects that will be eligible for funding.

2. The biggest issue is the cramped working environment that courthouse employees have to deal with on a daily basis, followed by the numerous buildings that are spread out in the county seat. Citizens have to go to multiple buildings to conduct business. Another issue is the county jail. As the county continues to grow, unfortunately, so does the jail population. The way the county is growing it will not be too far in the future that a new jail will be needed.

This shall be addressed by doing a facility study for a new courthouse annex, one that would be able to house most all county offices in one building. Doing so would allow multiple buildings to be sold and added back to the tax roll. Such a study would include all outlying buildings without diminishing the effectiveness of the services in said areas.

3. EDC plays an important part when it comes to enticing a business to relocate into a particular area. Most large manufacturers desire several things. Among these are major traffic flow (truck routes, railroads, etc.), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ratings, other competitive businesses and local taxes.

It would be beneficial for a countywide EDC to be formed so that the cities of Wise County could work together to entice manufacturing business to help with the tax base. It would be a benefit to all of Wise County. This is made possible because each city offers their individual, desired characteristic of a specific industry.

At this time it is unclear where funding could be acquired. However, due to the potential gains countywide, I do not see there being a problem with the commissioners court coming to terms with beneficial solutions for all involved.

4. It is very important for the county to be involved with organizations on both regional and state levels. It pays to have connections through these organizations to help further knowledge and education to better benefit Wise County with problems it may have due to growth, tax base and even legislative issues. With most every issue the county will face in future growth, there is someone, somewhere that has faced similar issues. It is important to learn from others’ mistakes as well as their accomplishments. An active role in these organizations can also bring recognition and beneficial attention to the county.

5. My answer to this would be yes and no. The commissioners court needs to take a base rate that is fair to all departments in the county, then add to each department’s funding based on:

  • geographical area size – the miles they travel
  • call volume – number of calls they run
  • type of call – structure fire, grass fire, medical, vehicle accidents, etc. Each call will determine the type of equipment required.

Each department receives approximately $56,000 per year from the county. That may sound like a lot of money, but when you take into account the cost associated with the equipment, maintenance and fuel, the money doesn’t go very far.

6. In visiting with people involved on both sides of the issue (Sheriff’s Posse and county officials, alike), some say it wasn’t handled very well, and others say it was. Not being involved, it would be hard for me to say without further knowledge of all the details.

As is with any transaction, one can always sit back and say, “It would have been better to …” Then again, some would say, “There was no other way it could have been handled.”

In light of the fairgrounds now being the responsibility of the county, I will work to ensure that such a need for a facility where the youth of Wise County can come together is not forgotten.

J.D. Clark

J.D. CLARK

1. Water is our most precious resource, and as we grow, it will become even more valuable. It is absolutely crucial that we develop, implement and maintain an innovative water plan that will meet the long-term demands of our growing population, our increased industry, and our continued agricultural traditions.

The county judge should lead the charge in assembling a team to develop a plan to manage and protect our water resources for the coming years. It begins with getting all stakeholders with water knowledge and ideas at the same table: hydrologists, engineers, groundwater specialists, farmers, ranchers, developers and representatives from the oil and gas industry.

We have incredible human resources in Wise County, and we need to pull that expertise together to develop an innovative, responsible water plan for our county. If we don’t, outside entities will eventually work to further regulate Wise County water and limit our own local input.

2. County office space can seem like a piece-meal strategy: add a building here, convert a building there. By having our offices spread out in separate buildings with separate utilities, we are not being convenient for our taxpayers or efficient with our tax dollars. It is time to be proactive rather than reactive. We need a comprehensive, fiscally responsible facilities plan to improve and upgrade our facilities into a more efficient system, rather than performing “Band-Aid” fixes as problems and growth occur. Temporary solutions result in greater long-term costs for taxpayers.

We also face major challenges in guaranteeing that our courthouse has proper security measures to keep our employees and visitors safe. Our historic courthouse was obviously not designed with modern security in mind, so it is imperative that we maintain the integrity of that iconic building while also providing a secure facility for our court proceedings.

3. As the county’s chief executive, the county judge should have an active role in promoting, attracting and growing business in Wise County. Our county revenue should increase from greater economic activity, not from increased taxes. Promoting countywide economic development is different from creating a countywide economic development corporation because an EDC would require a new sales tax for Wise County residents.

Instead, my vision for Wise County economic development is a collaborative effort modeled after the statewide TexasOne program. That program does not use tax dollars; instead, it uses funds from members and donors (private enterprises, local chambers, etc.) to create outreach, marketing and communication programs targeting businesses and site selectors. Our county mission should be promoting a healthy Wise County business environment. The community a business chooses to call home should not matter to the county judge. As long as it is in Wise County, we all benefit.

4. We should remain actively engaged in organizations because they allow us to be ahead of the curve on legislation and build camaraderie between counties as we tackle similar challenges and issues. The North Central Texas Council of Governments provides us with opportunities for grant funding for projects and growth plans, such as our long-term thoroughfare plan and law enforcement projects.

Wise County is also involved in the Conference of Urban Counties because of our role in the rapidly-growing DFW Metroplex. This organization represents 80 percent of the state’s population and allows us to have a voice in potential legislation that could affect Wise County. There is strength in numbers when we deal with issues in Austin, and our collaboration in that organization is an asset.

Our elected officials also belong to professional organizations, which provide required continuing education and professional development at a more affordable rate than obtaining the training independently.

5. I am a volunteer firefighter myself, so I understand firsthand the challenges that our rural fire departments face. As our county population grows, so does our need for well-equipped, trained fire departments. The reality, though, is that our population is often growing faster than the funding available for fire departments. The county currently provides a generous amount of funding to the departments, but that will not always be enough. Our county leadership must always be looking for opportunities to increase our public safety measures, including the resources available to our local fire departments.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” As your county judge, I am committed to maintaining a positive, open dialogue with all of our fire departments to ensure that they have avenues and opportunities available to obtain the equipment, training and resources required to protect our county.

6. I agree that our youth and our residents deserve a first-class fairgrounds facility, and our county will benefit from the economic development opportunities presented by the fairgrounds. As the county judge, I will work to develop a shared vision in our community for the facilities. I have always been a person – in my official capacity and in personal life – who looks to build coalitions and relationships, and relationships will be crucial in any successful fairgrounds project.

The Posse and the county should be partners in this community, not adversaries, and I will keep us all focused on the goal of making Wise County a better place now and for our future generations. As we work toward that goal, we will be open, honest and respectful with all stakeholders involved. There will be growing pains along the way, but we will come out as a stronger community in the end.

Keith McComis

KEITH MCCOMIS

1. Lake Bridgeport was built in 1932 to control flooding and to supply the Fort Worth area with water. Since then a big burden has been put on the lake, with growing populations in the Fort Worth area, our towns and county. Lake Bridgeport is an approximately 13,000- acre lake that services a large amount of water to several entities – city of Bridgeport, Decatur, West Wise, Walnut Creek, several crushers, power plants and Devon Energy Gas Plant.

As some may know, TRWD tried to get water from the state of Oklahoma on a pact agreement that included several states and the Supreme Court ruled against them. For this reason, our plans for future water needs to be brought to TRWD or the Texas legislation. The county has no authority in water issues that belong to TRWD and even if they did, enforcement would be a nightmare.

This would entail meeting with TRWD and the Texas Legislation if needed.

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2. The commissioners and Judge McElhaney appointed a committee to research this and came up with a plan that duplicates Bell County. It would include moving the DA, county attorney, district clerk, county clerk, all courts, to this new facility. Judge McElhaney was in the process of finding a suitable location for this facility.

Within the Texas Constitution, the facilities have a maximum distance from the county seat so this is somewhat hindering. He was also waiting on bond debts to be paid so this would not create a tax or fee increase. The plan is already in place, it is just a matter of getting debt paid. I think this is a great plan and commend everyone that has worked on it.

The county courthouse as we know it will not change other than some offices that are housed there. For example, the DA’s office is on the second floor with documents stored on the third, second floor and in the basement.

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3. Economic development is not common on the county level but can and is being done. Hood County is one that has an EDC. The county has a few options to make this work. You can partner with towns or you can create your own EDC. Starting a county EDC will require funding and the only ways to do this are to fund it through your general fund or add an increase to sales taxes.

A sales tax in the present economy, in my opinion, is not an option. However, a sales tax increase would have to go before the citizens for a vote. These funds would be earmarked for a certain use and cannot be used for anything else. There is probably an option for Wise County, but it is something that has to be looked at very closely due to the fact that the funds used to finance this department are very specific.

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4. The county should play a big and important role in state and regional organizations. This would enable Wise County to have a voice in these organizations and take our needs to the top. With the state and regional organizations, they offer a lot to communities if you get involved. Transportation is just one of the many projects they offer. My goal would be to follow Judge McElhaney and possibly serve on one of the boards. Wise County as a whole needs to participate in anything that will help the citizens and not increase their taxes or fees.

5. Without knowing the finances of each department, this would be hard to answer. With that being said, everyone knows our county is growing from the east. Each town has a budget for their fire departments, and everyone knows these departments go out of their respected towns into the unincorporated parts of the county to assist citizens.

The volunteer firefighters are unique individuals giving of their personal time to assist those in need. They should be able to spend their down time with family and activities of their choosing instead of out trying to raise more funds. This is definitely something that needs to be reviewed and some plan put in place to help out more.

Remember, the towns are their primary source of revenue, although the county subsidizes. Not everyone moving into the county goes to a town. Several people like the country-style setting, and these people need to be sure they have adequate fire protection.

6. It is very hard to get information on this subject, so most of us have to speculate on this one. Not knowing the facts or any of the conversations that went on between the two entities, I would have to hope that a different ending and solution could have been worked out. From the outside looking in, I would like to think this could have been done to the satisfaction of all involved and a good solution could be worked out for the betterment of all. Sitting down and working out solutions is one of my strong points. I do this with my position on the city level along with my business.

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Early voting starts Tuesday

Early voting for the March 4 Republican and Democratic primaries starts Tuesday.

Voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday, Feb. 18-28, at three locations in Wise County. A big change for this year is the early voting location in Decatur, which has moved from the Civic Center to Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut.

Rhome City Hall, 105 First St., and the Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center, 1000 Thompson St., are the other early voting locations.

The Decatur Wal-Mart, 800 S. U.S. 81/287, will also host early voting 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22.

If you didn’t vote in last November’s general election that featured amendments to the Texas Constitution, something else will be new.

Texas now requires voters to present a valid form of photo identification before casting a ballot. Prior to last fall, your voter registration card was all that was needed. The change is due to a law passed by the Texas legislature in 2011.

The law includes seven forms of acceptable ID:

  • Texas driver’s license
  • Texas election identification certificate (EIC)
  • Texas personal identification card
  • Texas concealed handgun license
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport

To be eligible for a Texas election identification certificate (EIC), you must not have any other acceptable form of identification. An EIC may be obtained at any DPS office in the state during regular business hours. Certain DPS Driver License offices will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays through March 1. The closest offices that are open on Saturdays are located at 820 N. Loop 288 in Denton, 624 NE Loop 820 in Hurst, 6316 Lake Worth Blvd. in Lake Worth, and 190 N. Valley Pkwy. Ste. 201 in Lewisville.

Voters with a disability could apply with the county voter registrar for a permanent exemption if they meet certain requirements. Voters with a religious objection to being photographed, or voters who have lost their ID as a result of certain natural disasters, may vote a provisional ballot.

They and those with religious objections must sign an affidavit within six days of the election at the voter registrar’s office swearing to those facts.

If the name on your photo identification does not match the name on the voter rolls, it will be up to the election judge to determine if the name is “substantially similar.” If so, the voter will simply check a form stating they are who they say they are.

If the person does not have proper photo identification, they will still be allowed to vote provisionally. They will then be required to show proper identification to the county voter registrar within six days of the election.

For more information on the new photo identification law, visit wcmess.com/VoteID. For more information on the law or other election-related questions, call the Wise County Elections office at 940-626-4453.

CANDIDATE FORUM PLANNED

The Bridgeport Lions Club will host a Primary Election Public Forum at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17, at their building located at 1107 8th St. in Bridgeport. All Republican and Democratic candidates in the March 4 primary election have been invited, and each candidate will present his or her platform or position on the issues affecting Wise County. Refreshments will be provided. For information, call 940-683-4048.

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More candidates file

The filing period for the May 10 city council and school board elections ends Friday, Feb. 28.

Listed below are the places on this year’s ballot. Below the name of each entity are the people currently in those positions, and following is a paragraph with information on who had filed as of Friday afternoon.

ALVORD CITY COUNCIL

Place 3 – Kirk Gibson
Place 4 – Megan Adams
Place 5 – Jim Enochs

As of Friday, Enochs remained the only one to file for re-election.

ALVORD SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – Currently unfilled
Place 7 – Jeannette Ward

Ward has filed for re-election, and Lex Williams has filed for Place 6.

BOYD CITY COUNCIL

Place 1 – Rodney Holmes
Place 3 – Crystal Keiper
Place 5 – Mark Culpepper

A special election will be held for place 2 for a one-year term. The position was formerly held by Rodney Scroggin who is now mayor. As of Friday, no one had filed for any of the positions.

BOYD SCHOOL BOARD

Place 1 – Kim Hudson
Place 2 – Pam Galloway
Place 3 – Jana Tate

No one had filed as of Friday.

BRIDGEPORT CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Keith McComis
Place 1 – A.Z. Smith
Place 2 – Kathy Kennedy

A special election will also be held for Place 3. Jimmy Meyers was appointed to the post in August to fill a vacancy created when Kevin Lopez resigned. Although there are two years left on the term, according to local government code, the person appointed to fill the vacancy serves only until the next regular election.

Kennedy and Corey Lane have filed for mayor, Smith has filed for re-election and Meyers filed for his current post, Place 3.

BRIDGEPORT SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – Ken Kilpatrick
Place 7 – Marti Hines

Kilpatrick and Donald Majka have filed for Place 6. Hines, Robert Marlett and Steve Stanford have filed for Place 7.

CHICO CITY COUNCIL

Two at-large seats are up for election as well as a partial term. The at-large seats are held by Karen Garrison and Aracely Cuevas. The seat for the partial term is held by Louise Gossett, who was appointed last year.

Garrison has filed for re-election.

CHICO SCHOOL BOARD

Place 6 – G.A. Buckner
Place 7 – Doug Bowyer

Buckner and J.D. Coffman have filed for Place 6.

Bowyer and Noel Ruddick have filed for Place 7.

DECATUR SCHOOL BOARD

Place 3 – Alan White (has announced his intention to retire)
Place 4 – Jeff Alling

Alling has filed for re-election.

Jim Lamirand and Pete Rivera have filed for Place 3.

DECATUR CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Martin Woodruff
Place 1 – Dana Clinesmith
Place 3 – Cary Bohn
Place 5 – Jay Davidson

At press time Friday, Davidson, Woodruff and Bohn had all filed for re-election.

NEWARK CITY COUNCIL

Place 1 – Bob Wells
Place 2 – Doug Anderson
Place 3 – Linda Anderson

A special one-year term election will be held for mayor, currently held by Gary Van Wagner, and Place 4 held by Taylor Burton.

No one had filed as of Friday.

NORTHWEST SCHOOL BOARD

Place 5 – Devonna Holland
Place 6 – Currently unfilled
Place 7 – Mel Fuller

Holland of Rhome and Jerry Burkett of Fort Worth have filed for place 5. Fuller of Trophy Club has filed for place 7.

RHOME CITY COUNCIL

Mayor – Chris Moore

Two at-large council positions currently held by Jo Ann Wilson and Michelle Pittman.

Pittman and Wilson have filed for re-election on city council, and Louis Godfrey and Mark Lorance have filed for mayor.

RUNAWAY BAY CITY COUNCIL

The mayor and two council at-large seats are up for election. These posts are held by Robert Ryan, and Neil Peters and Kay Simmons, respectively.

Ryan has filed for mayor. Peters and Simmons have filed for election.

Paradise City Council and school board and Slidell school board will conduct a joint election with the county in the fall. For the Paradise entities, this was in response to Senate Bill 100, which aimed at making the voting process easier and faster for military and overseas voters for primary and gubernatorial elections through the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

Filing doesn’t begin until the fall.

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