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Council, amendments election wrapping up

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Three members of Bandera City Council will be chosen and 10 amendments to the state Constitution will be assessed locally when voters in Bandera County cast their ballots in the 2019 election over the next three days and finally on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Registered voters can cast ballots in the 10-day early voting period that continues through Friday, Nov. 1, at three locations in the county, or they can wait until the regular election day on Tuesday to make their decisions.

While any voter can vote at any three of the early voting locations, if they wait until Tuesday, they will have to vote in one of the 10 precincts in Bandera County where their residence assigns them.

The early voting locations are the Ray Mauer governmental Annex in Bandera, at 403 12th St., the Lakehills Area Library, at 7200 FM 1283 in Lakehills, and the Medina Tax Office, 161 E. Parker St. in Medina.

Early voting hours run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at each of the sites.

On election day, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The location of the voting precincts can be found online at the Bandera County Elections office website, Click on the header titled “Polling Locations” to find the precinct locations.

Nine candidates are running for the three open places on council. Those candidates include three incumbent council members, Lynn Palmer, Rebeca Gibson and Tom McEachin.

Council members all run at large in Bandera rather than running in designated precincts. The three candidates who receive the most votes will be named the winners.

The candidates were asked to provide a biographical sketch of themselves and to discuss their reasons for seeking office for this story. The candidates are:

Jerry Russe, the longtime owner of Riverside RV park and a second businesses in Bandera who has lived in Bandera about five years. He said his interaction with the city and his attendance at council meetings convinced him the current council was not doing its job well and that the best way to improve the situation was to try to become a council member himself.

He expects to be a voice for the taxpayers.

Gibson, whose family owns two restaurants in Bandera, who has worked as a special education teacher in the Bandera school district and who now is an administrative assistant in the real estate industry. She has been a council member for two terms and has been mayor pro tem, filling in for the mayor when she is absent, for three years. Gibson said she wants to revitalize the city’s Master Plan to help guide growth in the city.

Cindy Lou Coffey, a business owner and investor in Bandera who was appointed to council in 2016 but was defeated when she ran for the mayor’s post twice. She has more than 12 years of government service, some of it in California before relocating to Bandera. Coffey said she can use her experience to help the city grow smartly without depending on higher taxes. She described herself as a conservative who supports the president.

Gunnar Witt, a U.S. Navy veteran and a firefighter with the U.S. Department of Defense who owns businesses in Bandera with his wife, Candice Witt, who he met in Bandera and married in 2014. He plans to focus on infrastructure needs in the city, including the lack of pedestrian accessibility, and finding ways to increase city funds without “taxing people out of business and residents out of homes.”

Candice Witt, Gunnar Witt’s wife, who moved to Bandera in the 1980s with her parents who once owned the Riverfront Motel and has lived here most of her life. She is now a real estate agent serving the Texas Hill Country. Candice Witt said she wants to be a voice for residents and business owners on council and would like to see a housing revitalization program started to strengthen the town’s housing stock.

Alan Calaway, a former Bandera city and Bandera Electric Cooperative employee who is now self employed and has lived in Bandera since he was 8 months old. Calaway said he “wants to help the people of Bandera” and will strive to see that the city keeps its property taxes in check. Infrastructure issues like roads and drainage need to be addressed by council, and salaries for some city employees have gotten too high, he said.

McEachin, a Laredo College English professor who fell in love with Bandera during a trip here five years ago and decided to stay. A year-and-a-half ago, McEachin was elected to the board of the Bandera Economic Development Corp., and he ran for and won an unexpired term on council last November. He too wants to help improve the city’s infrastructure and to work with businesses to boost tourism. He says he won’t play favorites.

Palmer, who has lived in Bandera since 1977 and who started Custom Glass & Mirror with her husband in 1999. She served on council for three terms in the early 2000s and then was appointed to a council seat in 2017, which Palmer won election to later in the year. She believes the city is on a good path with the current staff in place and wants to help the city keep moving forward. Palmer would like for the city and business owners to work together better.

Debbie Brown, a financial advisor in Bandera. She could not be reached for comment on this story.