Killeen Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lower’s loss at the polls Saturday may signal a shift in politics at City Hall, beginning with today’s election of a new mayor pro tem.
Early voting results Saturday showed Lower leading by just eight votes, but a surge of support on election day gave incumbent Terry Clark a relatively comfortable 60-vote win.
Clark has been criticized for a controversial slogan he ran in a newspaper ad, which said “Clark, not another ‘yes man’ for mayor.”
On his Facbook page Saturday, Mayor Dan Corbin called the ad “negative” and said that it may have fueled Clark’s comeback.
Defending his campaign, Clark said it was last-minute phone calls to supporters that allowed him to win.
Clark said he chose to run the not-another-yes-man ad because of negative statements Corbin had made about Clark on his Facebook page a week before the election.
“I ran a marshmallow campaign,” Clark said.
“After the Facebook post and things leading up to the election, I felt I needed to respond.”
In the coming year, the council will consider proposals such as funding a homeless shelter, a water reuse program and increasing the city’s treated water supply.
Corbin, who campaigned for Lower, said the political jabs that took place during the election would not affect the business of the council in the next year.
“We have a plate full of a whole lot of things that don’t have ideological factors,” Corbin said.
“I hope a lot of these issues we can solve with the interests of the citizens and without regard to political ideology.”
Pro tem search
At this evening’s meeting, the council will canvass the election results. The new council — including newly elected District 4 Councilman Steve Harris — also will elect a new mayor pro tem.
Lower will relinquish his seat to Harris, a 43-year-old teacher at Smith Middle School, before the election.
The mayor pro tem acts as the mayor during the absence or disability of the mayor. If the mayor steps down or is recalled, the mayor pro tem would take over the seat until the next general election.
Conversations with several council members Monday indicated no obvious candidate for mayor pro tem has emerged.
At-large Councilwoman Elizabeth Blackstone, at-large Councilman Jonathan Okray and District 2 Councilman Jose Segarra — who was re-elected Saturday — all said they would not turn down a nomination.
At-large Councilman Jared Foster did not return phone calls Monday.
District 1 Councilman Wayne Gilmore said he would likely deny a nomination to mayor pro tem.
Clark said he would deny a nomination and will endorse Blackstone for the seat.
Corbin said his position as state commander of the American Legion — which expires in August — requires him to travel across the state and has forced him to miss some council meetings.
“It needs to be somebody who knows how to run a meeting, somebody who can stand up before a crowd to speak and be able to be there when I can’t,” Corbin said.
If you go
The Killeen City Council will hold its regular meeting at 5 p.m. today at City Hall, 101 College St.