By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
A Place 5 candidate withdrew Monday from the upcoming Harker Heights runoff election, giving the largest vote-getter in Saturday's election a seat on the City Council.
"When one of the candidates withdraws, then the other candidate is elected," said Patty Brunson, Harker Heights assistant city manager, quoting the state election code.
Steve Hoskins, who trailed Spencer Smith by 184 votes in unofficial returns Saturday, formally withdrew from the runoff election at 2 p.m. Monday by submitting a letter to Brunson.
"I feel that this is the right thing to do, as my opponent may not have received over 50 percent of the popular vote but did receive over 50 percent of the votes that were cast in the race for Place 5," stated Hoskins' letter.
Smith was only four votes away from breaking the 50 percent mark to win the election, according to Saturday's unofficial totals. The 50 percent mark was set by the Place 2 race, which had a higher vote count, a total of 873 voters.
To win without a runoff, Smith would have had to receive 436.5 votes in the Place 5 race. He finished with 433 votes.
The official canvassing of the votes will be today at City Hall during the 5 p.m. City Council meeting.
Hoskins' withdrawal came as a shock to Smith.
"I was very surprised," Smith said. "He was very focused and very committed to his candidacy. I think it (withdrawing) is a very generous and a noble thing to do," he added.
Both Smith and Hoskins agreed that the runoff election could be costly in time and money.
"I think it is a relief," Smith said. "It is a lot of time invested in that (the runoff) and additional dollars. It will also cost the city extra money," he added.
Smith is ready to take on the role of city councilman, he said.
"I am anxious to get started," Smith said. "It is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. ... I am glad that a positive result for myself has come to fruition. ... I look forward to being able to serve all of the citizens of Harker Heights."
Hoskins plans to continue to serve as an active resident of Harker Heights and may even run for the City Council again, he said.
"There will be opportunities again in the future, and I intend to be active in the city for many years to come," Hoskins' letter stated. "... and hope to work with you all again in the future."
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554.