By Kathi Bliss
After a technical hiccup delayed tallying of election results on Tuesday night, Lockhart had a new mayor and a new city councilman by Wednesday morning.
In an election marked by extremely low voter turnout, longtime councilmember and area dentist Lew White declared a resounding victory in Lockhart’s mayoral election, and former councilmember Richard “Dick” Wieland returned to the council table with a solid lead in his race.
White rose to the top of the field of four candidates, closing the evening with 698 votes (76.12 percent), far ahead of the next competitor, Homer “Papa” Shaw, who earned 145 (15.81 percent). John Manning earned 58 votes (6.32 percent) and Joe “JoJo” Bruch rounded out the field with 16 votes (1.74 percent).
Only 917 of Lockhart’s registered voters cast a ballot in the race, according to the “unofficial election night returns.” Those numbers will be finalized when the vote is canvassed on Nov. 16.
In District 3, former councilmember Wieland made a run for a return to the city council against longtime Lockhart resident Doug Shomette. Wieland won the election by a comfortable if not wide margin, earning 223 votes (55.2 percent) to Shomette’s 181 (44.8 percent).
In District 4, a runoff will be necessary between incumbent Richard Banks and former District 4 Councilmember and former Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram.
Banks won the plurality in Tuesday’s election with 182 votes (47.91 percent) to Bertram’s 82 (31.18 percent). Political newcomer Steve Johnson rounded out the field with 55 votes (20.91 percent).
According to Lockhart City Secretary and election official Connie Rodriguez, a candidate in a city council election must declare victory with 50 percent of the vote plus one, and because no candidate in the race accomplished that task, a runoff between Banks and Bertram will be necessary.
Rodriguez said she will present a timeline for the election to the council during their meeting on Nov. 16, when White and Wieland will be sworn into office, and she expects the election to take place in mid-December.
Only a handful of voters in the Maxwell area made the decision for the Caldwell County Emergency Services District No. 2 (Maxwell ESD) to annex property in the Martindale area.
Only 40 ballots were cast in regard to the two propositions, which when passed, allow for the annexation of the property and allowing the Maxwell ESD to levy taxes on that property.
Thirty-five voters (89.74 percent) were in favor of the annexation, while only four (10.26 percent) stood against it, while 34 votes (85 percent) were cast in favor of the taxation and six (15 percent) against.
Because of recent upheaval in the Caldwell County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office, some candidates and interested voters were concerned that the election might not go smoothly. While there was a glitch in the system, the problems were not created by Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office, and were addressed quickly by the remaining staff in an effort to get the results on the ground quickly.
Interim Tax Assessor-Collector Joy Morris Pardo spent a portion of the evening attempting to assist polling judges for one of the larger polling locations, who experienced difficulties in reconciling their ballots counted against the votes cast. That reconciliation issue caused a delay in tabulating the final results, which were finally available just before 10:30 p.m.
The issues, she said, will not impact the final tally or the election results, and are expected to be corrected when the votes are canvassed later this month.