2010: A Year in Review – Elections loom as political landscape continues to shift
Tragedies marred the late months of 2010 as accidents claimed lives and left the community reeling. All the while, local politics continued to be at center stage, as more county residents than ever before became involved in the “process,” casting votes, attending meetings and making their voices heard.
Caldwell County Democrats and Republicans finalized their c
hoices in July to determine the candidates who would run for Caldwell County Commissioner-Precinct One, filling the unexpired term vacated by Tom Bonn’s resignation in January. The Democratic Party chose local businessman Richard Mendez, while the Republicans tapped John Cyrier, who was appointed to the Precinct One position in January by the late County Judge H.T. Wright.
As election talks heated up, a request was made by administrators from the Gary Job Corps to situate an early voting location on the Gary campus. The proposition was met by resistance from the community, who cited concerns about not only access to the Gary Job Corps campus, but the potential impact local elections could realize with an influx of voters who might not be educated on local issues. In the end, the County Commissioners’ Court opted not to put a polling location at Gary, citing State Law that prevented them from doing so.
Deputy Caldwell County Treasurer Rachel Anzaldua, 45, and her young son Christopher, 9, were killed in a car accident in rural Caldwell County that left the community reeling.
While the City of Lockhart and Caldwell County moved closer to passing budgets for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the impact of the slogging economy started to become evident locally. Budget tensions, a standard in summer government, were more strained than normal as local elected officials struggled to write budgets filling the needs of the community while keeping tax rates at a level that would not overburden taxpayers.
The Lockhart City Council prepared for a considerable shift as two longtime members of the City Council, Frank Estrada and Kenny Roland, announced they would not seek reelection, and eleven candidates threw their hats into the ring seeking election in November.
Former Lockhart Mayor and Lockhart Municipal Judge John M. Allred passed away after battling with health problems for several years. Allred’s passing left a hole in the hearts of many in the community.
The Lockhart Police Department faced criticism and concern after the city’s K-9 officer, Chase, escaped from his handler and ran away during a training exercise. The dog, a Labrador, had only been in the possession of the department for a few days, and was never recovered.
Testing results for the 2009 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test were returned by the Texas Education Agency. Testing results showed that Lockhart ISD students had made impressive strides, earning the district a “Recognized” status.
Tropical Storm Hermine blasted through Central Texas, brining with her flooding and inclement weather. During the storms caused by the weather pattern, a Bluebonnet Electric Co-Op lineman, Barry Hoke, 48, was killed in an incident while working on a pole in McMahan.
A former jailer filed suit against the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department, alleging she had been unfairly terminated from her position. The suit was called into question on a technical legal issue, and has not moved forward since its filing.
Two Lockhart residents accepted a plea deal on arson charges stemming from a series of fires in their residences in 2009.
A Caldwell County landmark was destroyed by a fire in late October, after a car crash caused an explosion. Uhland’s Club 21, the oldest operating dance hall in Texas, burned to the ground after a driver missed a turn and drove into the building, rupturing a gas line and sparking a fire that left the iconic business in ruins.
The Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court began discussions regarding an extensive – and ultimately controversial, County Development Ordinance. Many area residents bucked against the ordinance, citing a number of concerns that it will hinder property owners’ ability to subdivide and improve their properties.
Record numbers of voters appeared at the polls for early voting in the Nov. 2 General Election, which included not only a number of statewide races, but races for county and City of Lockhart leadership. More than 3,000 voters cast early ballots.
Lockhart ISD Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra came under fire when a board member questioned a staffing decision in which Parra transferred his wife to another campus. After hours of discussion and legal wrangling on the matter, which some concerned citizens said was a violation of the State’s nepotism laws, the LISD Board of Trustees opted to seek an opinion from the Attorney General on the interpretation of the statute, and the propriety of Parra’s decision.
The General Election yielded big changes in Lockhart and Caldwell County, as Republican-dominated sentimen trickled down to the local level and put a new face on election results. Two candidates were forced into a Dec. 8 runoff for the District One seat on the Lockhart City Council vacated by Kenny Roland.
Jack Black and Shirley Maclaine visited Lockhart for several days, filming scenes for the upcoming film “Bernie,” which is based on the true story of Bernie Teide, a Carthage, Texas, funeral home employee who killed his elderly benefactor and hid her remains for nearly nine months. The film is due to be released in theatres later this year.
A series of construction mishaps related to the construction of State Highway 130 cut fiber optic lines north of Lockhart, resulting in several hours of downed phone lines and internet services. Lines were cut on three occasions, knocking down telephone, internet and cell phone service throughout Caldwell County.
Election season finally wound to a close when Lockhart resident Juan Mendoza bested Dyral Thomas by one vote to earn a seat on the Lockhart City Council. Mendoza was sworn into his position on Dec. 21.
Caldwell County Commissioners bowed to pressure from a number of concerned residents and opted not to take action on a proposed Caldwell County Development Ordinance. The ordinance was tabled for further review, and will be acted upon in the near future by the newly-seated Commissioners’ Court.
Lockhart ISD Trustee Derek Benavides resigned his position on the school board, prompting the district to seek applicants interested in being appointed to fill his term, which will expire in 2012.