Don’t put those voter ID cards away just yet.
Though many Killeen-area residents are no doubt trying to catch their breath after Saturday’s election, there’s another one on the horizon, and it’s equally important.
That’s the May 22 runoff election for the statewide March primary — and early voting starts in just eight days.
Certainly, Saturday’s municipal and school board races were consequential — and voters turned out in large numbers to weigh in on who should run their cities and school district, not to mention how their tax money should be spent.
Killeen voters re-elected two city council members — Gregory Johnson and Juan Rivera — and also put Butch Menking on the council. Voters also returned Mayor Jose Segarra to office for another two-year term.
Harker Heights voters elected a new city councilman, Michael Blomquist, to fill the shoes of former longtime City Manager Steve Carpenter, who decided not to seek re-election after one three-year term on the council.
Some Killeen voters were eligible to vote for two board members for Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, the entity responsible for supplying and treating the city’s drinking water. Voters chose Dick Young and Allen Cloud to represent them. It was the first election the district had held in 24 years.
Perhaps most importantly, residents in the Killeen Independent School District voted to approve a $426 million bond proposal to build new schools and renovate older facilities in the district.
District officials put a lot of time and energy into the bond initiative, holding several public education sessions, placing literature on school campuses and erecting informational signs around the community.
Though the dust is still settling from Saturday’s election, area voters must quickly turn their attention to several races that could impact the Central Texas area.
Chief among those is the Republican runoff for the Texas House District 54 seat.
In that race, Killeen veterinarian Dr. Brad Buckley is challenging incumbent Rep. Scott Cosper, who has served one term in the Legislature after a term as Killeen’s mayor.
Both candidates have espoused conservative views on a variety of issues ranging from property tax reform to border security. And both have run a high-profile campaign in recent weeks, stepping up public appearances, advertising and mail-out literature.
Simply judging by the yard signs around the community, this would appear to be a close race.
But that should come as no surprise to those who have been following the campaign.
In the March 6 election, Cosper won a three-way race, outpolling Buckley and Larry Smith.
Cosper finished 299 votes ahead of Buckley, with Cosper garnering 4,472 votes, or 44.56 percent of the electorate, to Buckley’s 4,173 votes, or 41.58 percent. Smith received 1,390 votes, or 13.85 percent.
Though Cosper finished on top, he failed to top the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff, just as in the 2016 primary race.
So here we go again.
And since the 2016 runoff between Cosper and Killeen optometrist Dr. Austin Ruiz ended with Cosper winning by just 39 votes, it’s possible this year’s campaign will be just as hotly contested.
Another Killeen-area race drawing considerable attention is the runoff for Bell County commissioner, between six-term incumbent Tim Brown of Salado and Harker Heights banker Bobby Whitson.
Brown drew just over 44 percent of the vote in the March 6 primary to Whitson’s 34 percent in a three-way race, and both have campaigned hard over the past two months.
Republicans Paul LePak of Belton and Jeff Parker of Temple will face off for the nomination to the 264th District Judge post. Since there is no Democratic challenger in November, the winner will likely take the bench in January, succeeding longtime Judge Martha Trudo, who retired.
Democratic Party ballots will feature a runoff between M.J. Hegar and Dr. Christine Mann, both of Cedar Park, for the nomination to U.S. House District 31, with the winner to challenge incumbent Congressman John Carter of Round Rock in the fall.
Coryell County residents have several races on their ballots as well.
On the Republican side, voters will determine the nominee for county judge, district clerk and county treasurer. Janice Gray will face off against Roger Miller for the right to succeed retiring County Judge John Firth. There is no Democratic challenger in November, so the winner will take office in January.
Becky Moore and Jeremy Pruitt will vie for the district clerk seat, and Randi McFarlin and Cindy Hitt will go head-to-head for the county treasurer post. As with the county judge race, there are no Democratic candidates seeking the two positions, so the winners of the runoff will be sworn into office next year.
In the race for U.S. House District 25, Democratic ballots will feature a runoff between Chris Perri and Julie Oliver, both of Austin with the winner to face incumbent Congressman Roger Williams R-Austin, in November.
Lampasas County voters will have a chance to get in on the runoff fun as well.
Voters in the Republican runoff will decide the district judge, district clerk and Precinct 2 county commissioner’s races. Democratic voters will have a hand in deciding the U.S. House District 25 runoff between Perri and Oliver.
So, take a week or so and digest the results of this weekend’s elections, and what they mean to our communities and school district.
But then get ready to jump back into election mode for the May 22 runoffs.
The Herald will publish a preview of the runoff races on May 13, the day before the May 14-18 early voting period, featuring a synopsis of each race, voting times and polling locations.
Once this is election is over, Central Texas voters will get a bit of a break.
But before you know it, campaigning will be starting for the November election.
And early voting for that one is just 24 weeks away.