COPPERAS COVE - Voters in Copperas Cove have picked Bradi Diaz to succeed Frank Seffrood as the city’s mayor, according to unofficial results Saturday night.
The tally shows Diaz pulled in 465 votes, enough to secure a majority and win the special election outright.
Voters were selecting someone to succeed Seffrood, who died from cancer Dec. 28 at age 79. Seffrood had won re-election to a second term in a runoff election against opponent Azeita Taylor about three weeks before he died.
Diaz received more than 62% of the votes cast during the nine-day early election period, then added 130 votes Saturday.
Diaz received 61.92% of the total vote.
It's a return to the mayor's office for Diaz, who previously served in the post from 2004 to 2007. When she was elected in 2004, she was the first woman to serve as mayor and the youngest person ever elected as mayor.
Other numbers released by Coryell County Tax Assessor/Collector and Election Administrator Justin Carothers show runner-up Ron Nelson with 156 votes. Joey Acfalle finished in third place with 115, while Brandi Weiand finished fourth with 15 votes.
Elections results are unofficial until a canvass of all votes is conducted by the city on May 7.
Once that happens, Diaz will be sworn in as mayor on May 21 and will serve out the remainder of Seffrood's three-year term.
LOW VOTER TURNOUT
Turnout for this election dropped from December’s runoff between Seffrood and Taylor.
Turnout in the Dec. 11 election was estimated at just over 5%.
This time around, 755 voters cast ballots out of the 19,548 Copperas Cove residents registered to vote.
That equals a 3.86% voter turnout.
Diaz outspent everyone else in the race on her way to becoming mayor.
Last week, Diaz confirmed that she had raised $5,170 and spent $3,648 during her campaign.
Acfalle, Nelson and Weiand each said they raised no money for their campaigns while spending a combined total of around $100.
REASONS FOR VOTING
Those who did cast ballots Saturday had a variety of reasons for doing so.
Linda Litton said she was casting her first ballot since 2016.
“It’s very important,” Litton said, standing outside the Justice Center. “If you care about your community and care about the people in it, you want to vote for the one you think is the best, the one that’s going to be there for us.”
Diana Castillo said voting in local elections may be much more important than voting in federal-level elections.
“The reason is that local affects you almost immediately,” Castillo said. “The impacts you see much more quickly than at a federal level.”
Voter Constance Smith says issues brought her to the polls Saturday.
“I’m concerned about the taxes,” Smith said after voting inside the Coryell County Justice Center. “I’m concerned about the school issues. (And) look at our streets and our sidewalks. I’m concerned about how our city looks. When people come to our city, I want them to see how beautiful we are inside and out.
Diaz was stunned when she received word that she’d won Saturday’s election without need for a runoff.
“Oh, wow,” Diaz said as she learned of the number of votes cast for her.
“Of course, I’m excited about winning,” she said as her family huddled around her after learning the results. “I’m thankful for everyone who came out and voted for me ... there was just a tremendous amount of support from my family and my friends, of course,” Diaz said.
She also thanked the Copperas Cove community for their support.
“I’m ready,” Diaz said, “ready to get back into the swing of things and to do whatever I can to make Copperas Cove better.”
Runner-up Ron Nelson was happily surprised with his second-place finish, saying his status as a newcomer to Copperas Cove made him a dark horse.
“Here’s this guy with no political experience, came out of the blue and (took) second place,” Nelson said.
He doesn’t plan to fade away now that he’s gotten a taste of politics.
“I was telling my wife, this is just the end of the beginning,” Nelson said. “I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, getting out there and talking to people.”
He also congratulated Diaz, calling her a “tough opponent” and adding that he was happy she won.
Third-place candidate Joey Acfalle was out of town Saturday night. In a statement, he congratulated Diaz on her showing in the election.
“I wish the best to the new mayor (and) especially to the other candidates for taking the step to run for office, and to the citizens of Copperas Cove who (have) taken the time to vote,” Acfalle said.
Fourth-place candidate Brandi Weiand said she took a chance in running for mayor and isn’t sure politics is in her future.
Upon learning she’d gotten 15 votes in the election, she said, “Fair enough.”
Still, she would like to see change come to Copperas Cove.
“One thing I do know is that I’m unhappy with what I see in my town,” Weiand said. “Since I’ve been an adult, our government in Copperas Cove ... I just haven’t been impressed with it. I know Copperas Cove can do bigger, better, greater things. I don’t know that Copperas Cove is ready to do (that). And that’s okay.”
For now she plans to concentrate on her education with a view to returning to academics and teaching.