By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
After ousting five city council members in a historic recall election six months ago, Killeen voters culled through 26 candidates Saturday to fill the vacant seats and re-establish the governing body's quorum.
With 16 candidates vying for three at-large positions, complete but unofficial results showed the top three vote-getters were Elizabeth Blackstone, Jared Foster and Jonathan Okray.
Joining the three at-large council members-elect are Wayne Gilmore in District 1 and Jose Segarra in District 2.
In the hottest contest in the city election, Mayor-elect Dan Corbin beat Billy Workman, who was recalled last November, and three other opponents. Corbin, 64, took 46.5 percent of the total vote, and Workman garnered 31.4 percent, according to unofficial results. Current Mayor Timothy Hancock was term-limited and could not seek re-election.
The two sitting council members, Terry Clark and Michael Lower, will canvass the election results Tuesday.
Councilman-elect Okray led last year's recall effort after the controversial buyout of former City Manager Connie Green, but Saturday night he and other incoming council members said they wanted to put that acrimonious political episode behind them.
Okray, 45, said when he takes his seat, he will work with the entire council, including Corbin, who organized a last-minute anti-recall effort last year.
"It's not a personal thing," said Okray. "We want to be responsible. We have a job to do for the city and the citizens."
Foster, 29, said running a positive campaign that looked forward may have been the reason he won an at-large seat. He edged out former council member Mark Manning by 41 votes to get the last of three open at-large seats.
Segarra, 47, said though the recall caused some city business to be delayed, it had the positive effect of getting the public actively involved in politics. He said the new council will face a high level of scrutiny. "We're going to be more careful with what we do in a positive manner."
Corbin served on the council from 2003 to 2005 before resigning to run for an unsuccessful bid for the state Legislature.
Often seen as the mayoral front runner, Corbin outpaced his opponents throughout the campaign, spending nearly $37,000, according to his most recent campaign finance reports.
"I appreciate the trust the voters have placed in me, and I'll try to earn that trust over the next two years," said Corbin, who will serve in a ceremonial capacity for the city and break tie-votes when needed.
Corbin said because of the council's relative inexperience, he will propose the new council meet twice a week to become oriented with how the city operates. The council faces a backlog of zoning requests, upcoming bids for a hike and bike trail and the city budget, which will be delivered in draft form in July.
"This is pretty much a freshman mayor and freshman council," said Gilmore, 67, who was elected with 50.8 percent of the vote in the District 1 race.
Councilwoman-elect Blackstone, 63, said the new council members will have to take a lot in once they start meeting. She had the highest vote total among the at-large candidates, with 16.2 percent.
But unsuccessful mayoral candidate Hal Butchart said the voting results reflected the amount of money spent on campaigning and not the best interests of the city. "The way the citizens of Killeen voted, they deserve what they got," he said. "At least they voted."
Okray, who didn't raise any money in the final month of campaigning, initially spent $2,134, largely from his personal finances. "It's been an interesting year," he said. "I just thank God for the peace of mind and strength of body to put forth what's right."
Mason Canales contributed to this report. Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553.
Killeen City Council
Unofficial election results
Dan Corbin: 1,991 (46.5%)
Billy Workman: 1,342 (31.4%)
Hal Butchart: 407 (9.5%)
Juan Estrada: 276 (6.4%)
Eric Nellis: 264 (6.2%)
Wayne Gilmore: 401 (50.8%)
Jason Lawhorn: 215 (27.2%)
Travis Sutterfield: 174 (22%)
Jose Segarra: 531 (54%)
Frankie Williams Sr.: 451 (46%)
Elizabeth Blackstone: 1,714 (16.2%)
Jonathan Okray: 1,455 (13.8%)
Jared Foster: 1,149 (10.9%)
Mark Manning: 1,108 (10.5%)
Jim Butler: 895 (8.5%)
Doris Mims-Owens: 730 (6.9%)
Benton Goodnight: 714 (6.8%)
Steve Harris: 589 (5.6%)
Dan Kott: 435 (4.1%)
Milton Powell Jr.: 402 (3.8%)
JoAnn Demonbreun: 317 (3%)
Ralph Cossey Jr.: 312 (3%)
John Doranski: 271 (2.5%)
Nathan Small: 226 (2.1%)
Mike Gamel: 133 (1.2%)
Abe Amir: 117 (1.1%)
Total voters: 4,232
Timeline: Killeen City Council recall effort
March 22, 2011 - City Manager Connie Green undergoes an evaluation during a reportedly contentious executive session of the Killeen City Council.
March 29 - The city council votes 4-3 to buy out Green's contract for $750,000. Voting in favor of the buyout: Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper along with council members JoAnn Purser, Kenny Wells and Ernest Wilkerson. Voting against the severance package: council members Juan Rivera, Billy Workman and Larry Cole.
April 5 - Jonathan Okray files paperwork to recall the entire city council.
April 11 - Okray files paperwork to recall the mayor.
April 24 - The council appears at a town hall meeting, which about 500 residents attend. Okray is outside the building with petitions.
May 2 - Okray submits the recall petitions for seven council members. In total, the petitions have 9,876 signatures.
May 14 - Purser is defeated in her re-election bid by Terry Clark and subsequently not subject to recall.
May 20 - A leaked memorandum submitted to council members shows that enough petition signatures were validated for their recall. The petition to recall the mayor falls short.
May 24 - Council members facing recall are notified that they have five days to resign. If they don't relinquish their seats, voters will decide their political fate at the polls.
June 9 - Citing personal reasons, Wilkerson resigns from the council.
June 14 - The council sets a Nov. 8 election date for the recall.
June 28 - To replace Wilkerson in the District 2 position, the council appoints Michael Lower.
Nov. 8 - City residents vote to recall Cole, Cosper, Rivera, Wells and Workman from office.
May 12, 2012 - City residents elect Wayne Gilmore, Jose Segarra, Elizabeth Blackstone, Jared Foster and Jonathan Okray in unofficial results.