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Bandera elects two incumbents, one newcomer to council

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Voters in the city of Bandera returned two City Council members to office in voting that ended on Tuesday, Nov. 5, but also elected a newcomer to council, business owner Jerry Russe who has been a frequent critic of how well Bandera’s council is performing, according to unofficial returns.

The Bandera County Elections office reported Tuesday night that Russe and incumbent Councilwomen Lynn Palmer and Rebeca Gibson were the top three vote getters among the nine candidates running for a council post.

That would make them the winners of the election for the three places on council under the rules governing the contest if the tightly contested returns are confirmed when they are canvassed in the coming weeks.

Unofficial returns showed Palmer, a businesswoman seeking her second term on council this decade after serving for six years in the 2000s, received 67 votes, Russe, who owns Riverside RV Park and Chilly Dogs food stand in Bandera, claimed 62 votes, and Gibson, a former Bandera teacher seeking her third term on council, won 57 votes.

That total is only three more than the total received by Candice Witt, a real estate agent who has lived in Bandera most of her life, and only four more than Tom McEachin, a college English professor who is an incumbent council member, having won election last year to an unexpired term on council.

The four other candidates on the ballot lost by wider margins, with Gunnar Witt, a federal firefighter and Candice Witt’s husband, receiving 33 votes, former Bandera city employee and lifelong Bandera resident Alan Calaway  claiming 28 votes, Cindy Lou Coffey, a Bandera investor and  business owner who was appointed to council in 2016, picking up 23 votes, and Deborah Brown, a financial advisor, totaling 9 votes, according to unofficial numbers.

The election did not generate much tension as the candidates ran low-key races generally agreeing about the need for infrastructure improvements in the city and for Bandera to retain its small town, “Cowboy Capital” feel, but differing at times on how to accomplish those goals.

Russe and Coffey probably were the most critical candidates about the direction being taken by the current council.  Each argued that change was needed.

Also on the ballot in the election that started with early voting in late October and ended on Tuesday were 10 proposed amendments to the state Constitution.

Bandera County voters, like voter statewide, rejected the first amendment, which called for municipal judges to have the power to hold more than one office at a time, but supported the other nine.

Unofficial returns from the county showed Proposition 1, concerning the employment opportunities of municipal judges, failed with 2,100 votes to 807 votes against, while Proposition 2, authorizing the issuance of Texas Water Development Board bonds for projects in economically distressed areas, passed  with 1,638 votes to 1,228 votes against, Proposition 3, allowing temporary property tax exemptions for certain property in areas declared disaster zones by the governor, was approved  with 2,383 votes to 501 against, and Proposition 4, prohibiting the state from imposing or collecting a personal income tax, won with 2,477 votes to 432 saying “no.”

Other local returns showed Proposition 5, authorizing the net revenue from the state’s sales tax  on purchases of sporting goods to go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission, was approved with 2,588 votes to 301 against, Proposition 6, authorizing the Legislature to double the bond amount available to the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, passed with 1,710 votes to 1,158 votes against, and Proposition 7, allowing $300 million more per year to be distributed to the state’s available school fund, won with 1,923 votes to 946 against.

Also, Proposition 8, authorizing the creation of a flood infrastructure fund managed by the Texas Water Development Board to implement plans to mitigate flood damage, was approved 2,028 votes to 838 against, Proposition 9, authorizing the Legislature to create a property tax exemption for precious metal held in a precious metal depository in Texas, was backed by 1,579 votes to 1,219 against, and Proposition 10, allowing a state agency or political subdivision to transfer a law enforcement animal to the animal’s handler or another qualified caretaker, was approved with 2,731 votes to 155 against.

With 98 percent of the state’s 254 counties reporting totals late Tuesday, Texas’ Secretary of State’s office reported the following unofficial returns on the constitutional amendments:

Proposition 1 – 563,758 for, 1,073,068 against;

Proposition 2 – 1,046,634 for, 579,648 against;

Proposition 3 – 1,388,968 for, 238,380 against;

Proposition 4 – 1,247,832 for, 390,807 against;

Proposition 5 – 1,438,677 for, 197,084 against;

Proposition 6 – 1,026,618 for, 596,650 against;

Proposition 7 – 1,188,142 for, 436,598 against;

Proposition 8 – 1,246,110 for, 382,795 against;

Proposition 9 – 829,508 for, 744,854 against;

Proposition 10 – 1,536,252 for, 98,963 against.