Judge upholds appointment

Judge upholds appointment

Wise County Democratic Party Chair Tracy Smith dropped her head in her hands as the judge announced his ruling shortly after noon Friday at the Wise County Courthouse.

Intense Discussion

INTENSE DISCUSSION – Winford Cash and Democratic Party Chair Tracy Smith consult during Friday’s hearing at the Wise County Courthouse. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. of Fort Worth’s 96th District Court denied the injunction Smith had requested against interim Elections Administrator Jim Parker and the Wise County Elections Commission.

“I think the spirit of the law was not adhered to,” she said afterward. “I don’t feel like the intent of the law was followed, either. It’s unfortunate.”

Several witnesses testified during the two-hour hearing before a crowd of about 20.

Smith’s attorney, Steve Maxwell, who is chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, said most of the facts in this case were not in dispute.

The Elections Commission appointed Parker interim EA Sept. 23 to replace Lannie Noble, who had resigned to accept the same position in Denton County. At the time of Parker’s appointment, he was a vice chair of the Wise County Republican Party. He turned in his letter of resignation to Party Chair Allen Williamson immediately following the appointment.

Presenting His Case

PRESENTING HIS CASE – Wise County Attorney James Stainton makes his opening statement during a hearing Friday in which Democratic Party Chair Tracy Smith sought an injunction against the appointment of Jim Parker as interim elections administrator. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

At the same meeting, they accepted Noble’s resignation letter, which stated he intended to work through Sept. 26. Later in the week of Sept. 23, a resolution naming Parker interim elections administrator was submitted to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, and it said Parker would assume duties of the office Sept. 23.

Smith had refused to sign the document because she said it was an illegal appointment. She filed the lawsuit Sept. 30, and on Oct. 8, the commission reconvened to clarify its appointment and amend the resolution to reflect a start date for Parker of Sept. 29.

“The disputed issue of fact is whether Mr. Noble was to remain on the job until Sept. 26 or not,” he said. “Our position is not only was that not discussed in the meeting, but an order of an elections administrator appointment was entered on that very day, Sept. 23.”

He also said the proper procedure was not for the commission to amend the document but instead re-do the appointment in accordance with the law.

Maxwell cited 31.035 in the Election Code, which says in part, “A county elections administrator may not be a candidate for a public office or an office of a political party, hold a public office, or hold an office of or position in a political party. At the time an administrator becomes a candidate or accepts an office or position in violation of this subsection, the administrator vacates the position of the administrator.”

Since Parker’s appointment, resignation, and start date all appeared to be the same date – the 23rd – they said it was in violation of the statue.

County Attorney James Stainton disagreed with that interpretation in his opening statement.

“Mr. Maxwell interprets the statute in one direction that if at any time you hold two positions, you’re automatically out,” he said. “I don’t think that’s what the statute says. It says if you’re an administrator and you take an affirmative act to put yourself in a position in a political party, then you are out.”

Stainton also said he didn’t think the Oct. 8 meeting was improper because the change was made to reflect the original intent of the commission.

“Our contention continues to be that the meeting on the 8th was to clarify the will and desire of the commission, and even so … in the first place, we don’t think anything was improper at (the time of the appointment),” he said.

Smith, a staff accountant at a firm in Denton, was the first to take the stand. She’s been chair of the Democratic Party since August of 2013.

She said that although the date of Noble’s last day with the county was in his resignation letter, it was not specifically discussed in the Sept. 23 meeting.

Stainton asked her if discussion was necessary because she and the other commission members had the letter in their hands.

“I wouldn’t call it, ‘There was no need for a discussion,'” she said.

“You had the letter in your hand saying the 26th … everyone else had the letter,” he said. “You didn’t feel the need to challenge the date being the 26th or otherwise bring it up in any form or fashion did you?” he asked.

Smith said she didn’t know it would be necessary before finally answering the question.

Stainton also asked Smith what her impression was on the 23rd of when Parker was to take office, and she said there was “no impression.”

“Despite the fact that you had the letter stating (Noble’s) last day in office was the 26th?” Stainton asked.

Smith insisted the letter was the “intent” of Mr. Nobles, not necessarily the intent of the commission.

She went on to testify that Parker began work before Noble’s last day on Sept. 26. She said her husband received a letter from Parker postmarked Sept. 24 about election judge training in October.

Also on the 24th, she said Parker called her, in the capacity of elections administrator, to notify her that Democratic campaign signs in Bridgeport needed to be moved because they were illegally placed.

When questioned, she admitted the letter she received was not signed by Parker.

“Was it possible that he had no knowledge of that being sent out?” Stainton asked.

Smith didn’t answer the question and instead said Parker was working at the office.

“Were you in the office? Did you see him in the office?” asked Stainton.

“No, I did not,” she said.

“Did he call you from the office phone number?” Stainton asked in reference to the campaign sign conversation.

She said she assumed he did.

“You don’t really know, do you?” he said.

Smith insisted she did.

Deputy Elections Administrator Karen Valenzuela testified, revealing more details about the letter sent from the EA office with Parker’s name on it.

She said she wrote the letter and put the names on it, which included Parker’s, hers and that of Deputy Voter Registrar Luis Valdez. She said this was the same form letter that her department sends every year. “I was letting the election judges know who the new elections administrator would be,” she said.

She said she was instructed to send the letter by Noble, and Parker did not know about the letter prior to it being sent.

Parker also testified, stating his first knowledge of the letter was when his wife, who is an election official, received it.

He also said his phone conversation about signs with Smith was more of a courtesy call and that he, Smith and other party representatives regularly talk about signs and placement and wording of signs and try to give each other a heads-up if they hear of something being wrong.

“Our conversation about the signs lasted maybe two or three minutes,” he said. He said the rest of the conversation was about an upcoming Halloween party and he and his wife’s decision to buy an RV.

He testified that he did not call her in the capacity of elections administrator.

Others testifying in the case included Lee Foster of Alvord, a Democratic precinct chair; County Clerk Sherry Lemon; and Wise County Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson.

After the ruling was announced, Williamson told the Messenger he felt confident going into today’s proceedings.

“On behalf of myself personally, I want to thank Stainton for the work he did,” he said. “He prepared for this case very well and … we believed that we would prevail, and we appreciate the system and the court’s time.”

Smith said she didn’t know what the Democratic Party’s next step would be as she had not yet discussed that with her attorney.

She said she does have concerns about how the November election will be run.

Posted in Features, News4 Comments

Elections administrator’s start date debated

The turmoil over the appointment of Jim Parker as interim elections administrator continued to brew at a Wise County Elections Commission meeting Wednesday.

The group met to clarify what the majority of the members deemed a clerical error in the paperwork naming Parker as interim EA. The resolution submitted to the Secretary of State’s office says Parker will assume the interim EA duties on Sept. 23, which is the same day he was appointed to the post. He also resigned from his vice chair position with the Wise County Republican Party that day.

The majority of the members agree the resolution should have read that Parker would assume the duties on Sept. 29, the Monday following Lannie Nobles’ last day on the job.

But Democratic Party Chair Tracy Smith, also an elections commission member, hinted that the discrepancy in dates was underhanded action taken by the Republicans, and she said that Parker began acting as interim EA before his official start date.

Smith had already cried foul over the appointment, which she originally voted against, by filing a lawsuit Sept. 30 in the 271st District Court against the interim elections administrator and the county’s elections commission.

That case will be heard at the Wise County Courthouse 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 10, by Judge David Evans of the 48th District Court of Fort Worth.

In the meantime, the commission was tasked with cleaning up its paperwork.

County Judge Glenn Hughes opened Wednesday’s meeting by reminding everyone that Nobles’ resignation letter said Nobles would work through Sept. 26.

He explained that during the commission meeting Sept. 23 when Parker was appointed to replace Nobles, his understanding was that Parker would take over the job on Sept. 29, the Monday following Nobles’ last day.

The judge wanted each member of the commission to say how he or she on Sept. 23 interpreted the timeline of Nobles’ resignation and Parker’s takeover.

“I assumed that Lannie would work through that Friday, and I don’t know how you felt or if you felt the same way I did,” he said. “But I’m going to call on each one of you, and this will clear my mind on this one issue.”

Smith never said how she first interpreted it but instead shifted the focus to the error made on Parker’s resolution for appointment.

“I didn’t notice it, but I never had the intention for Mr. Parker to go down there and tell Lannie he’s out of office,” said Judge Hughes. “All I’m asking is what we thought at the time (of appointment).

“This was an error that we put the 23rd on there, and we probably shouldn’t have done that.”

Smith expressed disbelief that no one caught the mistake. The resolution was signed by commission members Hughes, Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson, County Clerk Sherry Lemon and Tax Assessor-Collector Monte Shaw. Smith said later in the meeting that she refused to sign the document because it was an “illegal appointment.”

“It was signed by all four of you,” she said. ” It didn’t get caught by four different people.”

Hughes said he should have looked at the date, and he didn’t.

“I wished the date was different, but I’m talking about when we were sitting here in the meeting what was your intention?” he asked.

Smith again skirted the question and attempted to drive the conversation in a different direction before Hughes said his recommendation would be to amend the resolution.

The judge suggested amending the resolution to read that Parker assumed the office on Sept. 29, “which would be the date he started, and I think that was the date he was bonded.”

“So it was a clerical mistake to have the 23rd,” he said. “It should have read the 29th.”

Smith spoke up again at this point and said that Parker was acting in the capacity of elections administrator on Sept. 24.

“He called in the capacity of elections administrator to notify me that our candidates’ campaign signs were out of code, and we needed to have them removed,” she said. “That wasn’t the 29th. That was the 24th.”

This was news to the other commission members.

Smith also presented a letter from Parker, postmarked Sept. 24 about election judge training. After reviewing the letter, Hughes said he agreed that Parker was acting in the capacity of elections administrator by doing these things, but he didn’t see a problem with it because the commission had appointed him to perform those duties and he had already resigned his position with the Republican Party.

Smith asked questions of the judge confirming that Parker resigned from the party after he was appointed.

“Yes, that’s right,” Hughes said. “I don’t know how he would have turned it in before.”

“Well, that’s the spirit of the election code isn’t it?” she asked.

Hughes told Smith she was wrong and he thought she was misinterpreting it. He quoted Election Code 31.035, which reads in part: “A county elections administrator may not be a candidate for a public office or an office of a political party, hold a public office or hold an office of or position in a political party.”

Hughes’ point was that this statute is for people already in the position of elections administrator. He sought additional explanation from Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson.

Williamson referred everyone to section 31.034 of the Election Code, which outlines the eligibility to be named elections administrator.

“It says to be eligible for appointment as elections administrator, a person must be a qualified voter of the state,” he said. “That’s all it says about eligibility. There have been no allegations that says Mr. Parker isn’t a qualified voter of the state, so he is eligible to be elections administrator.”

Williamson said his understanding of the events on Sept. 23 was that the commission accepted Nobles’ resignation effective Sept. 26.

“I think if we make a motion to amend the appointment to the 29th, then I think that solves the problem,” he said. “As far as him acting in the capacity of elections administrator, I haven’t seen that, but it looks like he’s trying to get elections school training going for the election judges of both parties, which would be consistent with us trying to maintain the upcoming election.”

Williamson wanted to make a motion at that time, but Hughes stopped him to seek the opinion of Lemon and Shaw, both of which agreed with the judge and the Republican Party chair.

Lemon and Shaw both said they had no previous knowledge of Parker acting in the capacity of EA before the 29th.

Williamson said he wasn’t going to fault Parker for trying to get the election going.

“I believe all the members of this commission would agree that we had a sense of urgency on the 23rd and that the overriding concern is that this election go off without a hitch,” he said.

He then made a motion to amend the appointment of county elections administrator for the effective date of Sept. 29.

Shaw seconded it.

Smith made a plea to the Democrats in attendance.

“Discussion… anybody?” she asked.

Lena Wells expressed frustration with the date being wrong, and Matthew Britt, Democratic candidate for state representative, District 61, argued Election Code interpretation before a vote was taken on Williamson’s motion.

It passed 3-1 with Shaw, Lemon and Williamson voting in favor, and Smith voting against the measure. Judge Hughes did not cast a vote.

Smith also refused to sign the revised resolution.

A story about Friday’s court hearing on this issue will run in the weekend Messenger.

Posted in News0 Comments

Candidates report campaign finances

Local candidates turned in their 30-day campaign finance report forms this week as required by the Texas Ethics Commission.

The reports submitted Monday detail contributions and expenditures from July 1 to Sept. 25. Republican county judge candidate J.D. Clark reported $6,650 in donations, more than any other candidate. This is also the most Clark has reported during any single reporting period, pushing his total contributions to more than $20,000.

The big spender during this reporting period was Democratic county judge candidate Jim Stegall, with $3,923.59. He reported $4,634 in contributions.

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


  • Republican J.D. Clark: $6,650 contributions, $539.13 expenditures

Contributions included $2,500 from the Wise Republican Women; $2,000 from the Republican Party of Texas in Austin; $1,000 from Louis Dorfman of Dallas; $500 from Wise County Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson; $250 from Jerrod Mowery of Bridgeport; $200 from Mark Duncum of Decatur; and $100 each from Dwight Albert “D.A.” Sharpe of Aurora and Russell and Lynda Childs of Chico.

  • Democrat Jim Stegall: $4,634 contributions, $3,923.59 expenditures

Contributions included $2,000 from Tom and Lori Chivers of Carrollton; $1,000 each from Mary Rebecca Stegall of Mount Lake Terrace, Wash., and Nora and Andrew Ponder of Houston; $500 from Laura and Trevor Armstrong of Fort Worth; and $100 from Larry and Mary Guillory of Rhome.

He reported $34 in contributions of $50 or less.


  • Democrat Kristina Kemp: $400 contributions, $3,117.60 expenditures

Kemp received one donation – $400 from the Wise County Democratic Party.

  • Republican Gaylord Kennedy: $0 contributions, $872.38 expenditures


Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 20.

Posted in News0 Comments

To vote, register by Monday and have photo ID

If you plan on voting in the Nov. 4 general election, you need to make sure you are registered to vote.

If you are not, Monday is your last chance.

The last day to register to vote or update the information on your current “orange” voter registration certificate is Monday, Oct. 6. Check to be sure the address on your voter certificate is your current address and the name on the certificate matches, or is substantially similar, to the name on the ID you will be presenting to vote.

Current law requires that you be registered in the county you call home and have a photo identification to vote. Call the Voter Registration office at 940-626-4453 or 940-627-3656.

If you need photo identification, Election Identification Certificates (EIC) may be obtained from any Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) driver’s license office throughout the state during normal business hours, all year. Wise County’s office is located at 2000 S. Trinity in Decatur. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DPS will offer Saturday hours at select driver’s license offices to issue EICs only Oct. 11 through Nov. 8. Those locations will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The closest office to Wise County that will offer Saturday hours is at 820 N. Loop 288 in Denton and 5816 Azle Ave. in Lake Worth.

To apply for an EIC, applicants must visit one of the locations listed above and complete an application for a Texas Election Identification Certificate (DL-14C).

To qualify for an EIC, an applicant must:

  • Bring documentation to verify U.S. citizenship and identity
  • Be eligible to vote in Texas (Bring a valid voter registration card or submit a voter registration application through the Texas Department of Public Safety.)
  • Be a Texas resident
  • Be 17 years and 10 months or older

If voters already have any of the following documents, they have an acceptable form of photo identification and are not eligible to receive an EIC:

  • Texas driver’s license – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • Texas personal identification card – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. passport book or card – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • Texas concealed handgun license – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. Military identification with photo – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. Citizenship Certificate or Certificate of Naturalization with photo

The EIC receipt an individual receives will include their photo and can be used for voting until the permanent card is delivered by mail.

The EIC is free to qualifying applicants and is valid for six years. There is no expiration date for an EIC for citizens 70 years of age or older. The EIC can be used for the purpose of voting in an election and may not be used as personal identification.

For more information on the requirements, exemptions and process for obtaining an EIC, visit www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/electionID.htm. For information on voting in Texas, visit the Secretary of State’s website: www.votetexas.gov.

Early voting for the Nov. 4 election is Oct. 20-31.

Posted in News0 Comments

Few voters choose winners in runoff races

The winner of Tuesday’s primary runoff elections was … apathy, apparently.

That goes for both Wise County and the state as a whole.

Of the 35,775 eligible voters in Wise County, 2,154 cast ballots in either the Republican primary runoff (1,939) or the Democratic runoff (215). That amounts to a 6 percent voter turnout rate.

Statewide, voter turnout was around 7 percent.

There were no local races on the runoff ballot.

Wise County results of the individual races mirrored those across the state. In perhaps the highest-profile Republican race, for lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick defeated incumbent David Dewhurst by a 65 to 35 percent margin in statewide results. Patrick’s win was even more lopsided in Wise County, where 76 percent of voters chose Patrick compared to 24 percent for Dewhurst. Patrick won every voting precinct in Wise County.

In the Republican race for attorney general, Ken Paxton cruised to victory with a 64 to 36 percent margin of victory statewide over Dan Branch. In Wise County, Paxton won by a 69 to 31 percent margin. Like Patrick, Paxton won every local voting precinct.

In the closest race on the Republican ballot, Sid Miller defeated Tommy Merritt by a 53 to 47 percent margin. That was almost exactly the same margin Wise County voters delivered for Miller – 54 to 46 percent. Miller won 17 of 25 precincts in Wise County.

In the final Republican runoff race, Ryan Sitton defeated Wayne Christian for railroad commissioner by a 57 to 43 percent margin of victory. In Wise County, 58 percent voted for Sitton compared to 42 for Christian.

Sitton won 22 Wise County precincts, and the candidates received the same number of votes in one precinct.

Two Democratic races were on local ballots. For U.S. senator, Democrats statewide chose David Alameel over Kesha Rogers 72 to 28 percent. Locally, Alameel earned 61 percent of the vote compared to 39 percent for Kesha Rogers.

Alameel was the choice in 14 local precincts. Rogers led in 4 while the candidates tied in the other 7 precincts.

Jim Hogan was the Democrats’ choice for commissioner of agriculture as he defeated Richard “Kinky” Friedman by a 54 to 46 percent margin. Local Democrats also chose Hogan over Friedman by a 57 to 43 percent margin.

Hogan won 14 Wise County precincts compared to 6 for Friedman with split votes in the other 5 precincts.

Posted in News0 Comments

Voting Tuesday in primary runoff

After Tuesday, the November general election ballot should be set.

But before that can happen, a few races in the Democratic and Republican primary elections still need to be decided.

The Republican ballot includes the lieutenant governor, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture and railroad commissioner races.

Democratic voters still must settle on candidates for U.S. Senator and commissioner of agriculture.

Election day voting for the runoff is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at four consolidated polling locations around the county. Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 22 will vote at Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut. Precincts 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19 will vote at Assumption Catholic Center, 1305 S. Deer Park in Decatur. Precincts 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 will vote at Bridgeport High School, One Maroon Dr. in Bridgeport. Precincts 20, 23, 24, 25 and 27 will vote at Boyd Community Center, 420 E. Morton Ave. in Boyd.

Registered voters who did not vote in the primary election may vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary runoff. However, if you voted in a primary, you can only vote in the same party’s primary runoff election.

Sample ballots for both the Democratic and Republican primary runoff election can be found on the Wise County Election’s website, www.votewise.org.

A week of early voting ended Friday in Wise County with 630 votes cast in the Republican primary runoff and 24 in the Democratic primary runoff.

Posted in News0 Comments

Primary runoff early voting begins Monday

There is no more primary election business to take care of on the local level, but a few decisions are left to be made on the state and national levels.

Early voting for the May 27 Republican and Democratic primary runoff elections is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday next week, May 19-23. Early voting locations are:

  • Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut St.;
  • Rhome City Hall, 105 1st St.; and
  • the Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center, 1000 Thompson St.

The Republican ballot includes four races:

  • lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick;
  • attorney general, Ken Paxton and Dan Branch;
  • commissioner of agriculture, Sid Miller and Tommy Merritt;
  • and railroad commissioner, Ryan Sitton and Wayne Christian.

The Democrats have just two runoffs:

  • U.S. Senator, Kesha Rogers and David M. Alameel; and
  • commissioner of agriculture, Richard “Kinky” Friedman and Jim Hogan.

Registered voters who did not vote in the primary election may vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary runoff. However, if you voted in a party primary, you can only vote in the same party’s runoff election.

Information on election day voting locations and times will be published in next week’s Wise County Messenger.

Posted in News0 Comments

Early voters settle races

Wise County voters made their choices known in local city council and school board elections last week – and with the exception of one entity, all had more votes cast early than on election day May 10.

When the final numbers were tallied, a cast of new players was revealed.

Election Day By the Numbers


More than 400 people voted early in the Alvord school board race while just more than 100 trekked to the polls on election day.

They elected newcomers Lance Thweatt to place 6 and Charles Matthews to place 7, by overwhelming margins. Thweatt received 396 votes to Tracy Parker’s 152. Lex Williams received three votes for the place 6 post, but he informally withdrew from the race a few weeks ago, asking his supporters to vote for Thweatt.

Matthews defeated Jeannette Ward 400 to 151.

Debra McKelvain won place 4 on Alvord City Council with 86 votes. Her opponents, Lenda Barnes and Shane Raney, received 63 and 44 votes, respectively. Incumbents Kirk Gibson (place 3) and Jim Enochs (place 5) were unopposed. Gibson got 137 votes, and Enochs, 149.


In the Bridgeport mayor’s race, Corey Lane narrowly edged Kathy Kennedy, 193-177. Lane won early voting 110-98, while Kennedy garnered one more vote than Lane on election day.

David Correll won place 1 on the city council with 243 votes, beating incumbent A.Z. Smith, who received 111 votes. The race for place 2 was close, but Calvin Coursey declared victory with 186 votes. Art Velasquez received 177. In early voting, each candidate received 103 votes.

Despite a large field of candidates, the Bridgeport school board races were decided with no runoffs needed.

Scott Hiler won place 6 with 356 votes. His opponents, incumbent Ken Kilpatrick and Donald Majka, received 126 and 109 votes, respectively. Steve Stanford won place 7 with 353 votes. Loretta Hill drew 119 votes in that race, Robert Marlett, 95 and Steven Lara, 26.


Louis Godfrey defeated Mark Lorance for the Rhome mayor’s job, 117-88. Incumbents Jo Ann Wilson and Michelle Pittman were re-elected to two at-large seats on the city council with 122 and 90 votes, respectively. In the same race, Timothy Robison received 79 votes, Shawn Holliman, 48 and Jason Miller, 38.


The incumbents declared victory in the Chico school board race, although it was close. G.A. Buckner won place 6 with 248 votes to J.D. Coffman’s 221, and Doug Bowyer won place 7 with 245 votes to Noel Ruddick’s 226.

Coffman and Ruddick both won the early vote but couldn’t hold on through election day.


Jim Lamirand defeated Ricky Stutt 190-145 for place 3 on the Decatur school board, and Pete Rivera received 14 votes in the same race.

Dr. Jeff Alling was re-elected to place 4 with 245 votes, beating Charles Ross, who received 96.


Jake Tackett easily won place 2 on the Boyd school board. He received 138 votes, while opponent Cathy Gordon received 23 and Mikeul Fite, 15. Unopposed candidates Rebecca Parr (place 1) and Jana Tate (place 3) were re-elected, receiving 154 and 158 votes, respectively.


Cary Mellema’s 34 votes was enough to secure place 1 on the Newark City Council. His opponent, Monique Murray, received 20 votes.

Incumbents Linda Anderson (place 2) and Doug Anderson (place 3) were unopposed and got 42 and 47 votes, respectively.


In the Northwest school board races, incumbent Devonna Holland was re-elected to place 5 with 1,064 votes, edging Jerry Burkett who polled 1,046.

Lillian Rauch defeated five opponents for place 6 with 750 votes. Kristi Wade received 711, Andrew Bennett, 257, Stan Durham, 265, Aaron Fraser, 122 and Edward Mergenthal, 47.

Mel Fuller defeated Doug Smith 1,201-853 to secure re-election to Northwest’s place 7.

Posted in News0 Comments

Godfrey wins mayor’s race

Louis Godfrey will transition from the council to Rhome’s top job after winning the mayor’s race Saturday.

He defeated Mark Lorance, who once held the mayor’s post, 117-88. Lorance said he was asked by several people to come back and run again.

“I gave it a shot and tried to get my message out there the best I could, and it just didn’t work out,” he said. “If the citizens want someone else to step into that position, then that’s OK.

“I volunteered my services, tried to get my message out and I guess Louis had a better message.”

Godfrey says he feels “fine” about the win, and he wants to see the city grow in a positive way.

“I want the city to have positive relations all the way around,” he said. “It’s time to get a master plan into effect, but not all of this will take place overnight.

“… I plan to work very hard for the people of this city, whatever it takes to get the job done,” he said. “I’m not afraid of long hours, and I’m not afraid of hard work, as long as we can all stay on track and do things together, I think we’ll all do just fine.”

Two at-large council seats were up for grabs and were secured by incumbents Jo Ann Wilson and Michelle Pittman. Wilson received 122 votes, and Pittman got 90, beating Timothy Robison (79), Shawn Holliman (48) and Jason Miller (38).

“I am pleased that people wanted me back in, and I got more votes than I ever have,” said Wilson, who is starting her fourth term. “I really enjoy it. A lot of people have my cell phone number, and that’s good. If I can be of any help, I will try. I think that’s important, particularly in a small town. I just appreciate all the support I’ve been given.”

Wilson said she would like to address water needs and road repair in the next two years.

Pittman’s win secures her second term, and she wants to see the city develop a five-year plan for a safety complex that would house the police and fire departments. She also wants to include a community center and sports fields in that plan. She said they also need to evaluate infrastructure for water and sewer to ensure everything is in place to accommodate growth, especially commercial growth.

Pittman said she’s honored to be re-elected.

“It’s been a rocky two years, but it’s been a privilege to get to be a part of helping people,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of challenges, and I feel like I’ve been the Lone Ranger sticking up for some things that I feel strongly about … I want to get away from that.”

Posted in News0 Comments

Hiler, Stanford claim school board seats

After the votes were tallied, Bridgeport ISD had two new school board members Saturday night.

Scott Hiler and Steve Stanford won places 6 and 7, respectively.

Stanford beat out three candidates – Loretta Hill, Robert Marlett and Steven Lara – to claim the seat vacated when incumbent Marti Hines chose not to run.

Hiler defeated 15-year board veteran Ken Kilpatrick and former Bridgeport mayor Donald Majka.

Kilpatrick said the voters made their choice. He said he plans to move on and wishes Hiler all the best.

“When you’re in a political race it’s a yes or no,” Kilpatrick said. “The voters run the board just like the city. Scott will do a great job.”

Hiler said he was excited, and added that his first job as a new board member is getting acclimated to his new responsibilities and understanding what is required. His first board meeting is 7 p.m. May 19.

“Ken called to congratulate me and wish me well. I’m not really sure what led to that in my success. I led a positive campaign, and Ken and Majka led one too,” Hiler said. “There might have been a sense in the community to have more members on the board that have kids in the district.”

He said his family is excited for his win, but admittedly his three young daughters might not fully understand what all the hubbub is about.

“My wife and I view this as a family commitment and opportunity to further serve the community,” Hiler said.

Hiler also volunteers at his daughter’s school with D.O.G.S. and with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Hiler and Stanford will be sworn in May 19. Stanford is assistant chief for the Bridgeport Police Dept. and believes his experience in law enforcement as well as his Christian beliefs have prepared him for the board.

“I have a great sense of ‘service before self,'” Stanford said. “I want to serve our district with excellence and be a small piece to help raise the standard for Bridgeport ISD. I believe my current profession will only have a positive effect on my position as a trustee. I have a great understanding of leadership and management in the public sector, as well as the ability to filter personal agendas.”

Stanford said with budget season on the horizon, his first priority after some training is to get up-to-date on where the district is fiscally.

Stanford said he believes the voter turnout indicates some change is needed in the district and shows people care.

Posted in News0 Comments

Lane brings experience to city council

Corey Lane may be new to the governing body of the city of Bridgeport, but he is no stranger to politics.

Lane, a business owner/operator, ousted Councilwoman Kathy Kennedy, who was elected to the council in 2012, in the race for mayor.

“I may not have served on the council, but experience comes from a lot of different sources,” Lane said. “I certainly understand how the game is played.”

Before opening Furniture Supercenter in 2008, he worked as a political consultant and even fancied himself a politican at the national level when he was “young and ambitious.”

“But then I realized there are a lot of unscrupuluos people in that world, and I didn’t want to be a part of that,” he said. “Politics is about compromise, and I couldn’t do that. I believe it’s important for the values you have to stand alone.”

Those values will drive the changes Lane plans to bring to the council – both in-house and by the public.

“Voters want to see a change in the direction of the council,” he said. “There are some attitude challenges that are happening. City government is not perceived as being friendly … We’ll bring a different attitude when we get started.

“There are some wonderful people working for the city, and they can and will do their jobs,” he continued. “But they’ve been micromanaged. I intend to get out of their way. These are wonderful people that can make a difference if they’re allowed to do what they’re supposed to do.”

Lane said he also hopes to alleviate a longtime burden for the benefit of not just citizens, but also potential businesses – electricity.

“Bridgeport is really a neat place to be,” he said. “It may never be the sprawling metropolis that Decatur is because it’s not on a major highway. But we are not singing our praises loud enough to let people to know that we have a lot to offer.

“As mayor, I will represent not only our constituents but also represent Bridgeport and the community at large, inviting businesses to come in and set up here,” he continued. “We have issues with electric utilities. But we’ll address those issues so that we can attract businesses that will bring jobs for people and prosperity for all.”

Although he hopes to work with businesses, his focus will be the body of constituents who elected him to office.

“The concept that people cast their vote to give you their trust and say, ‘We want you to go serve for us’ is incredibly humbling,” he said. “I don’t take that responsibility lightly …

“I will represent the voters to the city council, and I can assure the voters that their issues are going to be considered and heard,” he continued. “Not everyone is going to get what they want; that’s not the way it works. But they will be heard. And if that’s the case, the council is doing their job … We’ll certainly do the best we can.”

Lane – along with David Correll, who defeated incumbent A.Z. Smith for place 1 on the council – and Calvin Coursey, who edged Art Velasquez for place 2 – will be sworn in at the scheduled council meeting May 20.

“Once we’ve been sworn in, they’ll have us take over the meeting,” Lane said. “The expectation is that the agenda will be procedural stuff at best … I wouldn’t want to vote on something I have not researched.”

Lane admits he has a lot to learn but is looking forward to the challenge.

“I’ve already been in contact with the city administrator, and I’m looking forward to going through orientation in the next week to see what hand we’ve been dealt,” he said Tuesday. “The previous mayor and council have lots of things going. So we’ll look at all of that to decide to continue the programs that make sense and abandon those that don’t.

“I looking forward to getting started.”

Posted in News0 Comments

Alling, Lamirand elected to school board

Decatur School Board incumbent Jeff Alling cruised to re-election while a three-person-race to replace board member Alan White was a bit closer.

Alling won his third term in place 4 with 72 percent of the vote. His opponent, Charles Ross, received 28 percent.

Decatur Voter Turnout

Jim Lamirand claimed place 3 with 54 percent of the vote. His closest opponent, Ricky Stutt, got just shy of 42 percent while Peter Rivera received 4 percent.

Voter turnout was light. Slightly fewer than 4 percent of registered voters in the school district cast a ballot in the election.

Alling said he was happy to be re-elected to a job he truly enjoys, and he offered some advice to his opponent.

“Charles Ross is my friend, and I think he ought to keep running,” Alling said.

He said he also looked forward to working with new member Lamirand, who he said he’s known for awhile. He offered him some advice as well.

“My advice is to go to school board school,” he said. “You learn a lot there. But the best advice is to be patient and keep the interest of the teachers and kids at heart.”

New place 3 trustee Lamirand said he’s looking forward to getting to work on school business.

“I’m really excited to get on board with it and learn. I think this is going to be fun,” he said.

Stutt, who came up 45 votes short of election, said he is concerned the school district does not offer enough variety of career and technology programs at the high school.

“Programs like building trades and criminal justice and programs that work alongside of Weatherford College in the medical industry,” Stutt said as an example, adding, “DISD has very little to offer the young ladies of our district.

“I think more turned out in support of the idea ‘everyone is going to college,’ and ‘get a scholarship through athletics.’ That thinking has changed at the state and national level.”

White did not seek re-election this year, retiring after 15 years on the board.

Posted in News0 Comments

Challengers win big in school trustee election

Voters on both sides of the Alvord school board race stuck together as they elected two new trustees Saturday.

Charlie Matthews defeated incumbent Jeannette Ward by a 400-151 margin for place 7.

Alvord Voter Turnout

In a three-person race for place 6, Lance Thweatt garnered 396 votes to 152 for Tracy Barclay Parker. A third candidate, Lex Williams, unofficially withdrew from the race and threw his support to Thweatt.

Three voters didn’t get the memo, or Thweatt’s margin of victory would have been a single vote different from Matthews’.

Matthews said the message from voters was clear.

“The school district is tired of the turmoil,” he said. “My agenda would be to get that calmed down. If the school board is not together, the school’s not together. We just need to work on teamwork and get the school board together.”

Ward, who served two terms on the board, was philosophical after the votes were counted.

“It’s obvious the voters wanted a change,” she said. “I hope this produces the change they want.”

She noted that when she won her first term, six years ago, it was because of the same feeling.

“I have to respect the fact that they wanted change,” she said. “When I ran the first time, that’s how I got in. I hope they get back on track, come together and bring the community together.”

Thweatt said the margin of victory surprised him.

“It does give you a lot of confidence going in there,” he said. “People wanted some new ideas, new faces on the school board.”

The vast majority of voters cast their ballots early. Thweatt and Matthews both got exactly 308 early votes, while Ward got 117 and Parker got 115.

Thweatt defeated Parker 81-23 on election day, and Matthews outpolled Ward 84-21. On the absentee ballots that were mailed in, Parker won 14-7 and Ward won 13-8.

The turnout was somewhat higher than in past elections, as the community and school board have been embroiled in a battle recently over the contract of head football coach Curtis Enis.

In their last meeting prior to the election – the fifth meeting in just over a month – the board voted unanimously to renew Enis’ contract as head football coach but to relieve him of the duties of athletic director – putting that task on Superintendent Bill Branum.

Enis got a one-year contract to coach football and may be assigned other duties as needed, Branum said.

Three board members – Ward, board president Larry Nivens and board secretary Kevin Wood – had opposed action by trustees Jim Looney, John Schedcik, Vic Czerniak and Randy Hamilton to non-renew Enis’ contract.

Those efforts sparked a petition drive and drew crowds to the normally sparsely-attended meetings. They also prompted several lengthy closed-door sessions as trustees wrestled with the legalities of teachers’ contracts and the rights and responsibilities of board members.

Adding further interest was the fact that Hamilton, who resigned from the board last June, came back in April and once again took part as a voting member of the board. That was after trustees discovered a little-known clause in the Texas Constitution that stipulates an elected official still holds office until a replacement is appointed or elected.

Hamilton’s return broke the 3-3 deadlock on the board, but he was not a candidate for his old seat, which went to Thweatt.

Thweatt said he hopes the controveries are over.

“The main thing is to just try and get all that behind us and get everybody going in the same direction,” he said. “The thing with Curtis is behind us, the election is behind us – it’s time to get everybody working together, going in the right direction.”

Matthews said the focus needs to be on the classroom.

“I know there’s a lot of different ideas about things that need to be done,” he said. “My goal is just to get our kids a good education and take care of them. That’s the priority.”

Posted in News0 Comments

More than 50 on school board, city council ballots

Fifty-three candidates are seeking 21 school board and city council positions in today’s elections across the county.

Alvord, Bridgeport, Newark and Rhome all have contested city council races, and six school districts – Alvord, Bridgeport, Boyd, Decatur, Chico and Northwest – have contested races for their boards of trustees.

Early voting ran April 28 through May 6, and polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. (See below for polling locations.)

Results will be posted at WCMessenger.com as they’re available.


Incumbents Kirk Gibson (place 3) and Jim Enochs (place 5) are unopposed for re-election, but three people are competing for place 4.

Debra McKelvain, Shane Raney and Lenda Barnes are seeking the spot, which opened when Megan Adams opted not to run again.


Three candidates – Lex Williams, Tracy Barclay Parker and Lance Thweatt – filed for place 6, but Williams has since informally withdrawn from the race. His name will appear on the ballot, but he’s asked his supporters to vote for another candidate.

Place 6 was vacated last June by the resignation of trustee Randy Hamilton, who had served two years of a three-year term.

Incumbent Jeannette Ward has an opponent in her bid for re-election to place 7 – Charles Neal Matthews.


Boyd ISD has one contested race.

Three candidates – Jake Tackett, Mikeul Fite and Cathy Gordon – are seeking place 2, which opened up when Pam Galloway opted not to seek another term.

Incumbent Jana Tate is unopposed for place 3, and Rebecca Parr has no opponent for place 1 after Kim Hudson decided not to seek re-election.


Kathy Kennedy and Corey Lane are seeking the job of Bridgeport mayor.

Place 1 incumbent A.Z. Smith drew an opponent, David Correll.

In place 2, Calvin Coursey and Art Velasquez are seeking the spot vacated by Kennedy when she chose to run for mayor.

Jimmy Meyers is unopposed in his bid for re-election to place 3.


The Bridgeport ISD Board of Trustees has three candidates for one spot and four for another.

Incumbent Ken Kilpatrick seeks re-election to place 6 while Donald Majka and Scott Hiler are also seeking that position.

In place 7, Robert Marlett, Steve Stanford, Loretta Hill and Steven Lara are seeking the spot vacated when incumbent Marti Hines withdrew from the race.


Two incumbents are seeking re-election with one opponent each.

G.A. Buckner is opposed in his re-election bid for place 6 by J.D. Coffman, while incumbent Doug Bowyer in place 7 is challenged by Noel Ruddick.


With the decision of longtime trustee Alan White not to seek re-election, three men are seeking place 3: Jim Lamirand, Pete Rivera and Ricky Stutt.

In place 4, incumbent Dr. Jeff Alling is opposed by Charles Ross.


Two special elections are being held after a pair of vacant positions were filled by appointment last year.

Mayor Gary Van Wagner is opposed by Darla Loggains in his bid to win the seat to which he was appointed. Mark Wondolowski is the only candidate for place 4, which was filled by the appointment of Taylor Burton last year.

Place 1 has two candidates vying for the seat now held by Robert Wells, who chose not to seek another term. Monique Murray and Cary Mellema are both signed up to run.

Incumbents Doug Anderson (place 2) and Linda Anderson (Place 3) are unopposed in their re-election efforts.


A pair of incumbents each drew an opponent, and one wide-open race for an empty seat attracted five candidates in the Northwest ISD.

Place 5 trustee Devonna Holland is challenged in her re-election bid by Jerry Burkett, while board president Mel Fuller has opposition from Doug Smith in his bid for re-election to place 7.

Place 6, vacated when trustee Kerry Jones resigned, is sought by Kristi Wade, Edward Mergenthal, Lillian Rauch, Andrew Bennett and Stan Durham.


Two candidates are seeking the mayor’s job: current council member Louis Godfrey and Mark Lorance.

Two at-large seats are also on the ballot, with incumbents Jo Ann Wilson and Michelle Pittman both seeking re-election. They are challenged by Timothy Robison, Shawn Holliman and Jason Miller.



Early votes: 448 (This number includes city of Alvord ballots.)
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Alvord City Hall
215 W. Elm St.


Early votes: 166
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Alvord City Hall
215 W. Elm St.


Early votes: 73
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Community Center
420 E. Morton Ave.


Early votes: 341 (This number includes city of Bridgeport ballots.)
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Municipal Building
900 Thompson St.


Early votes: 210
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Municipal Building
900 Thompson St.


Early votes: 315
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Chico Elementary School Library
1120 Park Road


Early votes: 207
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
DISD Administration Building, north entrance
307 S. Cates St.


Early votes: 35
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
City Hall
310 FM 718


Early votes: Not available
Election day voting
Precincts 23, 24 (City of Newark and unincorporated), 27 (unincorporated)

Newark Municipal Building
209 Hudson St.
Pct. 6, 24 (City of Rhome), 25, 27 (City of Aurora)
Rhome City Hall
105 W. First St.


Early votes: 140 (This number includes some Northwest ISD ballots.)
Election day voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Rhome City Hall
105 First Street

Posted in News0 Comments

Polls open Monday for city, school voting

Early voting for the May 10 city and school elections begins Monday.

Voting will continue each weekday through Tuesday, May 6.

Voters in Decatur will be going to the polls in a new location this year. Early voting is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the north end of the district’s administration building, located at 307 S. Cates St.

Voters can enter through the doors on the north side of the building.

Anyone planning on casting a vote in any of the races should bring a valid photo identification to the polls.

Other early voting locations and times around the county include:


Early voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day except Tuesdays, April 29 and May 6. The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. those days.

All early voting is at Alvord City Hall.


Early voting is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day except Tuesdays, April 29 and May 6. The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. those days.

All early voting is at Boyd City Hall.


Early voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except on Tuesdays, April 29 and May 6. The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. those days.

All early voting is at the Law Enforcement Center, 1000 Thompson St.


Early voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at Chico City Hall.


Early voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except on Tuesdays, April 29 and May 6. The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. those days.

All early voting is at the Newark Municipal Building.


Early voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except on Tuesdays, April 29 and May 6. The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. those days.

Voters can cast their ballots at the following Wise County locations:

  • Newark Municipal Building
    209 Hudson St.
  • Rhome City Hall
    105 W. First St.


Early voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesdays, April 29 and May 6. The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. those days.

All early voting is at Rhome City Hall.

Posted in News0 Comments

City council and school board elections

City council and school board elections are Saturday, May 10, and early voting starts Monday, April 28, and runs through Tuesday, May 6.

The Messenger sent candidates questionnaires, and asked that answers be limited to 50 words.

Today’s edition includes responses of Alvord and Bridgeport City Council candidates and Decatur school board candidates. More races will be featured in the weekend Messenger.


City council candidates were asked to address the following:

1. Rank the following issues in terms of importance and emphasis for your city: taxes, streets, water and sewer, parks and recreation, fees (water, sewer and garbage), economic development, law enforcement, attract new residents and housing developments

2. Which statement best describes your primary reason for seeking a place on the city council?

a. correct administrative or financial problems that exist within the city

b. change current direction and policies of city

c. continue current direction and policies of city

d. increase local funding for city programs, including streets, law enforcement, parks

e. maintain or lower local funding for city programs, including streets, law enforcement, parks

f. support bond election to improve city issues as needed, including streets, law enforcement, parks

g. oppose tax increases required to improve city facilities, including streets, parks, etc.


Lenda Barnes

Lenda Barnes

Occupation: Retired

Education: Some college

Family: Married

1. First we must maintain a good water and sewer plan if this community wants to grow. We need good law enforcement to protect the citizens, local property and businesses. The city streets are in bad need of repair, and this needs to be addressed. To attract new residents and housing developments, the first three items are very critical. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

2. The council for the past five years has been in the process of correcting many errors made by the prior leadership and administrations. The city needs to control the water demands during this drought situation. However, I would like to see a budget increase to provide better street maintenance. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

Debra McKelvain

Debra McKelvain

Occupation: Alvord ISD

Education: Paradise High School

Family: Married 27 years to Randy McKelvain and raised three children: John Cody, Casey and Kelsi. She has three grandchildren: Easton, Ella and Emma

1. I feel that the main emphasis of the city council should be to attract businesses, residents and affordable housing to the city. In order to do that, we need to improve our streets and update the water and sewage system. Parks and recreation and security are also vital to town growth.

2. I am running for city council to bring a different perspective to the table and look at additional ways get the most out of our tax dollars. To encourage growth, we must be willing to make changes to policies that do not provide welcoming incentives to new residents and businesses.

Shane Raney

Shane Raney

Occupation: Park Custom Trim

Education: Decatur High School

Family: Wife Ashley Raney and daughter Braylee Raney

1. Just like many of our citizens, street and water issues are always on my mind and the general spending of taxpayers’ dollars in a way that’s best for the citizens of Alvord.

2. I want the current direction of the city to continue. The quality of life has definitely improved in Alvord in the last couple of years. I would like to help see the progress continue to move forward


Corey Lane

Corey Lane

Occupation: Retail store owner/operator

Family: Wife Pamela; sons Remi, 16, Regi, 15, Robi, 12

1. Economic development (JOBS) will attract new residents and housing, increase the tax base without tax increases, and reduce fees by spreading the overall government cost over a larger group of people. Reducing utility costs as soon as possible will encourage commercial and residential housing development.

2. I am seeking an opportunity to serve as Bridgeport mayor as a means of giving something back to the community that supports my family and our business. I intend to work with the city council to build on the policies enacted by previous administrations that have proven beneficial. But high energy rates, diminished hospital services and infrastructure improvements need immediate attention and new policy direction. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

Kathy Kennedy

Kathy Kennedy

Occupation: Director of case management, RN

Education: ADN, BSN, MSNA with endorsement preparation (degreed on May 10)

Family: Husband DaWayne Kennedy; blended family with six children and seven grandchildren

1. As mayor my primary focus for my town is always going to be safety first. This includes the police department, fire department and water/sewer department. They must be primary because without them, all other issues fade. After that streets rank next. Our streets are in terrible shape, but we now have a plan to fix them and the sidewalks. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

2. Bridgeport has come a long way in the past several years. We are more financially stable than we’ve been in a long time. We need to change the current direction of the city and focus on developing a program of solidarity and growth. However, we must always keep in mind the financial history of the city and temper this future growth with knowledge of the past.


A. Z. Smith

A. Z. Smith

Occupation: Retired CPA

Education: BBA from Texas Tech

Family: Four children and six grandchildren

1. Based on attention needed: Attract new residences, economic development, streets, water and sewer, fees, parks and recreation, law enforcement, housing development.

Your first question does not include the most critical issue for Bridgeport – the high price of electricity. Water and sewer are also high but not as much as electricity. The city of Bridgeport owns all of the lines and equipment and sells electricity to the residents and businesses in Bridgeport. Bridgeport does not have a choice of who they buy electricity from. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

2. My only interest in being on the city council is to serve the community. The city council needs to include men and women with diverse backgrounds. My background and experience certainly meet that criteria.

David Correll

David Correll

Occupation: Owner/agent, David Correll State Farm Insurance

Education: BBA from Midwestern State University

Family: Wife Tambra Correll; children Lauren Correll Hollingsworth, David “Scott” Correll, Kalea Correll; granddaughter Lillian

1. As I stated at the candidate forum, I believe economic development is our No. 1 priority. With greater development, there will be greater employment opportunities and more tax dollars in our city to reduce the cost of taxes and utilities. This will attract new residents, provide for more housing needs and allow for upgrades to our infrastructure. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

2. I’m not sure any of the choices listed best describe why I am running for city council. Economic development is the most important issue we face. My intent is to listen to people, hear their concerns and search for new ideas to make a difference in these areas and/or tap into the experiences of other communities who have faced the same challenges. (Answer exceeded word limit.)


Calvin Coursey

Calvin Coursey

Occupation: Lease operator

Education: Graduate of Bridgeport High School

Family: Wife Sheri; son Caleb Coursey and wife Andi; daughter Jessica Morales and husband Damian; grandsons Ayden and Jaxen

1. 1. Attract new residents and housing developments; 2. taxes; 3. law enforcement; 4. water/sewer; 5. fees (water, sewer and garbage); 6. economic development; 7. streets; 8. parks and recreation

2. As a lifelong resident of Bridgeport, I would like to help the city prosper and grow in a positive way. I want to improve the relationship and communication between the citizens, various boards and city government.


School board candidates were asked to address the following:

1. Rank issues by importance and emphasis: academics, athletics, band and fine arts, facilities, technology, transportation, vocational programs

2. Rank groups as a resource for information in making decisions: administration, parents and teachers, taxpayers, fellow school board members

3. Primary reason for seeking a place on the school board: continue the direction and policies of the district, change the direction and policies of the district, lower the tax rate


Jim Lamirand

Jim Lamirand

Occupation: General Manager, NRS

Education: BBA in Finance

Family: Wife Connie; son Austin, 20, son Cade, 16, daughter Jentry, 9.

1. Academics are priority. Each child is different so to rank athletics, band or fine arts would be unwarranted because they are all equally important to the success of our children depending on their interests. Technology, transportation and facilities must maintain a balance between cost and benefit to the entire district.

2. Each group is important and should be consulted when making decisions regarding the education of our students as well as the needs of our district. The more information we are able gather from different groups, the better decisions we can make as a board.

3. The primary reason for me seeking a place on the school board is to make a difference in the lives of our children. I am not a person that likes change for the sake of change. I support change when there is an opportunity for improvement.

Peter A. Rivera

Peter A. Rivera

Occupation: Planner/designer/consultant

Education: Major in architectural/planning/design

Family: Three children, four grandchildren

1. Not enough emphasis in the fine arts and vocational programs. Too much on athletics and technology.

2. Not enough input from parents and teachers, school board members. Restructure criteria for local DISD requirements.

3. Not only to continue the direction and policies of the district, but to enhance and expand areas that are required as the district continues to grow.

Ricky Stutt

Occupation: Wise County Sheriffs Office; inmate work crew supervisor

Education: United States Marine Corps Aircraft mechanic. Non-commission officer training, University of North Texas, vocational teacher certification. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification. Dealership service manager training certification. Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLOSE) certification; FIFA soccer coach certification (E)

Family: A wonderfully blended family with six kids and 18 grandkids. And all the trials and blessings that come with it.

1. I hope I do not sound like a politician by avoiding the question. But I do believe to be a quality education program, Decatur has to place equal importance on all areas. I do however bring a voice that has a strong background in the vocational trades. No program or department should get more attention than the other. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

2. The purpose of the school board is to be an extension of community. To hear what the community wants or needs for the betterment of the community and the nation. In order to do that, you must work together with all groups in order to serve the students’ needs. If I had to pick one, I would go with the parents and teachers. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

3. Simply to create a different perspective. To give the other board members a thought that maybe they have not thought of in the past. I am only one vote.


Jeff Alling

Jeff Alling

Occupation: Family Physician

Education: Graford HS, Texas A&M-BS and MD

Family: Wife Natalie, married Oct. 1, 1988

Children: Nathan (DHS class of 2010) senior at Texas A&M, Jonathan (DHS class of 2011) junior at Texas A&M, Hannah (DHS class of 2013) freshman at Texas A&M, Sarah (DHS class of 2015)

1. All of these issues are important. I am very proud of our teachers, administrators and support staff that focus and each of these services. I have seen great improvement in each area. I believe that with this improvement DISD is giving our children the opportunity to be successful now and in life.

2. I am glad to listen to any constructive input. I also believe good ideas can come from a multitude of sources. I do believe we have excellent staff and administration and by relying on their input we currently have improved facilities, held taxes down and improved test scores, including steady improvement on our SAT exams. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

3. I am interested in continuing the current direction of DISD because I see improvement in a lot of areas. We are now in a better financial position, have better facilities and staff than when I joined the school board six years ago. I do realize there are always areas where improvement is needed but believe we have the staff in place that can identify and make the improvements needed.

Charles L. Ross

Occupation: Retired

Education: High school diploma and 1 year College

Family: Wife Anita Ross, three children, five grandchildren

1. Academics: A good education is mandatory in order for our students to achieve success in every area of their life. 2. Technology: Is vital in order to achieve academic success. I believe we live in a time where technology and academics go hand in hand. 3. Vocational programs: Are important because they prepare those students who for some reason or another may or can not go to college. 4. Band and Fine Arts; 5. Athletics; 6. Facilities; 7. Transportation (Answer exceeded word limit.)

2. 1. Parents and teachers: Parents because of their concern for their children, teachers because they deal with the issues of education every day. 2. Taxpayers: Because they want the best education they can get for their support. 3. School Board Members: Working with my fellow members to come to the best solution available. 4. Administration: I would like to gather as much information as possible from all sources before making my decisions.

3. While we have a good school district we must consider change in some areas of policies in order for the district to continue with the demands of time.

Posted in News0 Comments

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


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.


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.


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 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.

Posted in News0 Comments

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


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.


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.

Posted in News1 Comment

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.”

Posted in Features, News1 Comment

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.


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.


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.

Posted in News0 Comments


Register| Forgot Password?