A small number of voters returned all El Campo council incumbents to office Saturday in a heavily-contested election.
Less than 11 percent of the 6,301 people eligible to cast ballots for one of four El Campo City Council district races came to the May election polls.
In District 1, incumbent Councilwoman Anisa Longoria Vasquez, uncontested in her reelection bid, collected 61 votes from 69 of her constituents who came to the poll (4.95 percent). There were 1,395 registered to vote in this election.
The eight additional potential votes indicates these individuals came to the poll, but did not make a mark in this election. An El Campo ISD election was held in conjunction with city balloting (please see related story).
“I got my 30 years of terms,” District 2 Councilwoman Gloria Harris said Monday, adding that she wished more people had come to the polls.
Ninety-five of the 1,113 registered voters in District 2 cast ballots (8.53 percent) with 58 going to Harris, three to challenger Blanca Petty and 31 to challenger Thomas Coblentz.
“They (District 2 residents) don’t vote,” Harris said, adding she wished for a better turnout. “They show up for the presidential election, they should do it for the local one.”
Harris says the 2021-2023 term may be her last on council.
“It’s 30 years and that’s history. I don’t think anybody (else) has been on council 30 years,” Harris said, “But I’m 76 years old. Getting around is difficult for me.”
She’s hoping that someone else will step up within the next two years to fill the post when she leaves, and, Harris said, she’s hoping to keep minority representation on council.
“I want the district (council representative) to be afro-American. It (the district) was designed for that,” Harris said.
Her mission, however, has been to serve the citizens of El Campo. “I do the best I can. I live in District 2, but I am a voice for the City of El Campo ... I look forward to working with Courtney (City Manager Courtney Sladek) and the staff we have to make improvements in the city.”
In District 3, 270 of 1,707 registered voters participated in the election (15.82 percent) with 139 casting ballots for incumbent David Hodges while challengers Anthony Garcia and Lance Lurker got 90 and 37 respectively.
“The voter turnout in my district was almost the same as the first time that I ran for council .... It is hard to get citizens to the polls for a May election. I was proud to earn the voters’ trust,” Hodges said.
Hodges said he’s earned the public’s trust through his actions.
“I was present and prepared for every meeting. I made every work shop and committee meeting. And most of all, I listened to the citizens of District 3 and did my best to represent them,” he said.
“I have no doubt that when the department heads and council work together we can be more prepared for the next storm that might come our way,” Hodges said.
Incumbent Councilman John Hancock Jr. was returned by voters in District 4. In that race, 252 of 2,088 registered voters participated (12.07 percent) with 170 casting ballots for Hancock and 79 for challenger Russell Hrncir.
“The election turnout was very low, but I guess that is to be expected considering the limited number of decisions to be made this round and also the weather on Election Day,” Hancock said, adding the fact all incumbents were returned “indicate the general level of voter satisfaction and not too many controversial issues at this time.”
He added, “We have a good city council and I look forward to continuing my work with all the fine individuals and I appreciate voters giving another two years to pursue my goals for our town.”
Returning council members said the council needs to turn its focus to addressing infrastructure needs in the coming session.