Two incumbents were re-elected to Killeen City Council district seats Saturday, according to unofficial polling numbers with all precincts turned in.
With a crowd of supporters in tow, Jim Kilpatrick was one of two incumbents, alongside Shirley Fleming, to retake their seats. The final unofficial results were announced at approximately 8:50 p.m.
Kilpatrick won the District 3 seat with 354 votes. His closest competitor was Patsy Bracey, with 304.
Debbie Nash-King took the District 2 seat in a landslide over competitor Larry Smith with 660 votes, or 68 percent of voters in the district.
Former Killeen City Councilman Steve Harris narrowly beat out incumbent Councilman Brockley Moore with 170 votes — just 17 more than Moore’s total.
According to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, all four district races are eligible for a recount by petition.
Because the council terms are two-year terms, there are no runoff elections.
Kilpatrick and his supporters gathered at City Hall while some of the candidates and others spectators came and went throughout the night, including Mayor Jose Segarra and former Mayor Raul Villaronga, representatives from the Killeen Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, and Josh Welch, a development manager with Bruce Whitis’ WB Development.
During the course of the campaign, Kilpatrick was criticized for voting against a $394,000 management audit of the city’s finances alongside Councilman Juan Rivera. The audit, approved March 14, was driven by resident demand and supported by the other five members of council.
On Tuesday, preliminary results from the audit presented to the City Council showed past mismanagement of funds by city officials, including the commingling and misuse of bond funds and the establishment of escrow accounts for the transfer of money between funds.
The accounting firm conducting the audit, Houston-based McConnell & Jones, has yet to identify individuals and occurrence dates for the early results.
Police, fire support
It was a hit-and-miss night for the Killeen firefighters’ group and the Killeen Police Employees Association who actively campaigned for Wells, Nash-King, Kilpatrick and Moore.
In District 1, Wells went up against incumbent Fleming.
Wells served on the council before he was swept up in the 2011 special election recall spearheaded by Councilman Jonathan Okray that stripped Wells of his post. Wells is the owner of Wells Laundry in Killeen.
Wells outspent the rest of the council candidates by a wide margin despite being completely self funded. According to campaign finance disclosure forms submitted by his campaign, Wells spent more than $15,000 on expenditures, primarily for advertising.
The other District 1 candidates, Teel, a dog trainer, reported no campaign contributions or expenditures on two campaign finance disclosure forms.
Teel ran as an outside candidate campaigning on a wide-ranging audit of the city’s finances — often advocating for Federal Bureau of Investigation involvement — and pushing for the city to address human trafficking in the city.
Fleming reported contributions from the Bell County Democratic Women PAC and Killeen planning and zoning commissioner Tyrone McLaurin.
In District 2, Nash-King faced Smith, a firebrand who repeatedly bashed former Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin and Whitis after a March 19 Herald article connected campaign funding from Whitis to Rivera and Kilpatrick.
The race between Smith and Nash-King was a contentious one, with accusations of unethical behavior thrown in both directions.
On April 17, Smith filed a formal complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission alleging Nash-King had violated multiple ethics guidelines in financing her campaign. Among those allegations were claims that Nash-King did not accurately file a returned $500 contribution from Corbin, accepted money from a local union — the Killeen Professional Fire Fighters’ Association — and accepted Corbin’s contribution through her late husband, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Elijah King, who was not an agent of the campaign.
The commission threw out the complaint Monday due to technical errors in the complaint. Smith said he would refile the document with the same allegations.
In District 3, Kilpatrick faced a crowd of candidates including retired registered nurse Bracey, past mayoral candidate Harold Butchart and write-in candidate and motivational speaker Vantonio Fraley.
Kilpatrick outpaced his opponents in campaign contributions, with monetary donations from former Killeen City Councilman Otis Evans and Corbin on the books and in-kind contributions of shirts and yard signs from the firefighters’ group.
Evans was appointed by Kilpatrick as a member of an ad hoc water/sewer/drainge committee advising the council and is also on the board of directors for the Whitis-developed Municipal Utility District No. 2 south of Killeen. The approval of the coming 3,750-home residential development was overseen by Corbin and City Manager Glenn Morrison while Kilpatrick served on the city’s planning and zoning commission.
Whitis also individually contributed to Kilpatrick’s first term campaign in 2015.
Bracey and Butchart reported no political contributions at either of the disclosure deadlines, although Butchart contributed $2,000 to Smith’s campaign in District 2.
Fraley reported $1,200 in contributions at the first deadline, all of $50 or less.
In District 4, Harris ran against Moore, local businessman Ralph Cossey Jr. and corrections officer Stanley Abrahams.
Moore raised eyebrows in his April 28 campaign disclosure forms with more $10,000 in contributions of $50 or less and $2,300 spent on books for school children and an additional $4,500 for scholarships listed as campaign expenditures.
Harris previously served from 2013 to 2015 and was an outspoken opponent of the Whitis development alongside Okray.
Harris and Abrahams both reported no monetary contributions during their campaigns, while Cossey reported a $500 contribution from Corbin after the second deadline.
Cossey is a member of the city’s Arts Commission. which is responsible for the development of tourism and the convention and hotel industry through the use of cultural arts grants, according to the city’s website.