City of Bandera voters produced what could be seen as a split decision on the direction of City Council in Nov. 5 balloting by reelecting two incumbents to office and selecting a frequent critic of council to take office for the first time, according to unofficial returns.
Final results from the Bandera County Elections office last week showed that former special education teacher Rebeca Gibson won a third term as a councilwoman and business owner Lynn Palmer was returned to office for a second term but newcomer Jerry Russe also won a seat on council after a year of speaking out at council meetings about policies and decisions that he felt were flawed.
Russe, who owns Riverside RV Park and Chilly Dogs hot dog and ice cream outlet in Bandera, said he believed voters supported his platform of improving infrastructure in the city while also addressing issues like traffic problems and how fairly codes are being enforced, but he also said his history of speaking up about problems in Bandera had an impact.
“I feel like people will expect me to keep doing that,” he said.
Russe, Gibson and Palmer received the most votes among nine candidates seeking election to council. The election drew only 386 votes, and the top five candidates were separated by only 14 votes, unofficial returns indicated.
But the count was enough to give Palmer, Russe and Gibson wins with 67, 62 and 57 votes respectively.
Real estate agent Candice Witt finished just out of the winner’s circle with 54 votes, and a third council incumbent, Tom McEachin, finished in fifth place with 53 votes unofficially.
Council will canvass the returns this month to see if those unofficial numbers become final.
Also on the ballot were 10 proposed amendments to the state Constitution, and Bandera County voters followed the lead of voters statewide by rejecting the first amendment, which called for municipal judges to have the power to hold more than one office at a time, but supporting the other nine.
Unofficial returns from the county showed Proposition 1, concerning the employment opportunities of municipal judges, failed with 2,100 nay votes and 807 votes in support, 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 that had been damaged in natural disasters, 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” in Bandera County.
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, winning 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, passing 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, prevailing 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, 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 to transfer a law enforcement animal to the animal’s handler or another qualified caretaker, was approved with 2,731 votes to 155 against in Bandera County.
The four other council candidates on the ballot were Gunnar Witt, a federal firefighter and Candice Witt’s husband, who received 33 votes, former Bandera city employee and lifelong Bandera resident Alan Calaway who picked up 28 votes, Cindy Lou Coffey, a Bandera investor who was appointed to council in 2016 and later ran for mayor, claiming 23 votes, and Deborah Brown, a financial advisor, totaling 9 votes.
Palmer and Gibson said they were pleased to win reelection and hope to see more progress on many of the initiatives they have supported during their upcoming terms in office.
Updating the city’s Master Plan and making it a more prominent part of Bandera’s decision making is one of the things Gibson wants to focus on, while Palmer hopes to work with the Texas Department of Transportation on plans for a pedestrian friendly sidewalk along Bandera’s Main Street.
Statewide, all the amendment but Proposition 1 were approved, if unofficial returns hold up. The Texas Secretary of State’s complete vote count on those propositions were:
Proposition 1 – 681,139 for, 1,289,626 against; Proposition 2 – 1,285,397 for, 673,306 against; Proposition 3 – 1,667,110 for, 292,031 against; Proposition 4 – 1,467,994 for, 504,848 against; Proposition 5 – 1,732,331 for, 236,251 against; Proposition 6 – 1,250,089 for, 703,157 against; Proposition 7 – 1,449,333 for, 506,142 against; Proposition 8 – 1,527,394 for, 435,184 against; Proposition 9 – 977,272 for, 916,513 against; Proposition 10 – 1,845,766 for, 123,032 against.