Update: This article has been corrected to reflect that no runoff will take place in the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, Precinct 9 election.
Voters in Amarillo made decisions in a series of close municipal and school district elections in the area on Saturday night.
Here is a roundup of the top elections of the night and what voters can expect in the coming days from some races.
Incumbent Mayor Ginger Nelson avoided a runoff on Saturday night, claiming re-election with 54 percent of the vote. Former paralegal Claudette Smith finished behind Nelson with 29 percent, while catering company owner and retired Amarillo ISD program coordinator Michael Hunt won 15 percent, and architect Carl Karas won 2 percent.
Amarillo City Council
For Amarillo City Council, Place 1, construction company owner Cole Stanley avoided a runoff to claim the seat held by retiring incumbent Elaine Hays. Stanley won 51 percent of the vote, trailed by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Hobert “Gunny” Brown with 30 percent and Navy veteran Jason N. Tillery with 19 percent.
Place 2 incumbent Freda Powell won re-election to the city council on Saturday night with 57 percent of the vote, trailed by high school government teacher Jason Foglesong with 29 percent and Amarillo College administrative assistant Josiah “Joe” West with 14 percent.
Despite a strong showing by his opponent, Place 3 incumbent Eddy Sauer won re-election to a third term in office with 57 percent of the vote. Retired industrial hose company executive Tom Scherlen won 43 percent, giving Sauer his closest re-election fight of his political career.
Finally, in Place 4, incumbent Howard Smith won re-election with 50 percent of the vote. Former Potter County Justice of the Peace Richard Herman followed Smith with 19 percent of the vote, while counselor Sharyn Delgado received 18 percent, and social worker and graphic designer Ali Ramos received 12 percent.
The Place 4 race might not be officially decided, however, as Smith’s unofficial total on Saturday night showed him avoiding a runoff by 99 votes. Herman announced on social media on Saturday night that he will be requesting a recount in this race, saying he believes he owes the request to his supporters and the other candidates in the race.
“I have requested a total recount because of the undervotes,” Herman wrote. “It’s nothing against anyone, but the numbers do not add up for the undervotes across the board, plus Howard only [won] by a few votes. … Also, I have nothing but respect for Howard, who is a fellow veteran.”
Amarillo College Board of Regents
For the Amarillo College Board of Regents, voters ousted one incumbent and elected two new faces to the board to join a re-elected incumbent.
Unofficial vote totals show incumbent Regent Anette Carlisle winning re-election with 28 percent of the vote, joined in victory by funeral planner and former Amarillo ISD Trustee John Betancourt with 19 percent, and occupational therapy assistant Peggy Carter Thomas with 18 percent.
Incumbent Daniel Henke failed to earn his spot among the top three vote-getters and lost his seat with 16 percent of the vote. Henke was trailed by former AC Board chairman Don Nicholson, who dropped out of the race before Election Day, and banker Adrian Meander at 11 percent and 9 percent of the vote, respectively.
Amarillo ISD Board of Trustees
Amarillo ISD Trustees David Nance, Doyle Corder, and Kayla Mendez were all re-elected to the board on Saturday night, while challenger Don Powell won the final seat being vacated by board president Robin R. Malone.
Unofficial totals show Powell, a retired banker and former FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) chairman under President George W. Bush, leading the pack with 42 percent of the vote, followed in victory by Nance at 19 percent, Mendez at 12 percent, and Corder at 10 percent.
Pastor Bennie D. Anderson and retired educator Louis Montano each received 7 percent of the vote, while Jimmy John’s franchisee and author Charles D’Amico received 3 percent.
Canyon ISD Board of Trustees
Voters returned all three incumbents seeking re-election to the Canyon ISD board of trustees on Saturday night, with each winning well over 60 percent of the vote.
For Place 3, Raben sales manager Zack Smith failed to unseat incumbent Randy D. Darnell in the closest race of the evening for Canyon, with Darnell receiving 62 percent to Smith’s 38 percent.
Place 4 Trustee Bill Jenkins also won re-election over realtor David Velasquez, who was making his second run for the board after losing two years ago. Jenkins won 68 percent to Velasquez’s 32 percent.
Finally, in perhaps the area’s highest-profile school board race, Place 6 incumbent Jenni Winegarner secured another term in office by defeating a challenge from former Trump Victory regional director and 2020 Republican congressional candidate Vance Snider. Winegarner received 69 percent to Snider’s 31 percent.
Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors
Voters in Potter County elected Lee Peterson to replace incumbent board member Butch Collard in PGCD’s Precinct 9. Peterson won 37 percent to Brian N. Walker’s 26 percent. Tim Ingalls and John Ryan Zimmer rounded out the field with 24 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Bushland ISD Bond
Voters in Bushland ISD passed the only bond to appear on Amarillo-area ballots on Saturday night, passing the $94 million Proposition A by a margin of 53 percent in favor to 47 percent opposed. Unofficial results showed the bond won the nod from voters in Potter County by a razor-thin, nine-vote margin but was boosted by heavy votes in favor from Randall County.
The district, which is located just west of Amarillo’s city limits, currently reports $15,915,000 in outstanding bond debt, not counting the debt that will be issued as a result of Proposition A’s passage.
Canyon City Commission
Voters living in the Canyon city limits, just south of Amarillo, returned incumbent Place 5 City Commissioner Randy Ray to office for a second term in what was the only contested commission race for the city in four years. Ray, the director of broadcast engineering at West Texas A&M University, defeated college student Zachary Unger with 79 percent of the vote to Unger’s 21 percent.
The turnout for this year’s election was higher than some in past years. According to the county elections websites, Potter County recorded a 15 percent voter turnout, while Randall County recorded a 14 percent turnout.