You would think people would be tired of elections.
That’s apparently not the case — at least from the viewpoint of local candidates.
As the filing period closed Friday for the upcoming May 1 municipal and school board elections, all eight races in the Killeen area are contested.
Moreover, the three local elections — Killeen City Council, Killeen ISD school board and Harker Heights City Council had drawn a total of 25 candidates for eight seats.
Six of those candidates are seeking a single seat — District 1 on the Killeen City Council. With incumbent Shirley Fleming finishing her third term and ineligible to seek reelection because of charter restrictions, a half-dozen hopefuls are campaigning for the seat.
Two candidates — Rosalyn Finley and Holly Teel — have previously run for the council seats. The other four — Angela Brown, Jessica Gonzalez, Latriece Walton and Lauren Young — are first-time candidates for council. It’s also somewhat noteworthy that all six candidates for the seat are women.
In the District 2 race, two-term incumbent Debbie Nash-King was unopposed for reelection until Wednesday, when William Baumgartner filed for the position. Baumgartner also sought the seat in the 2019 election.
The race in District 3 — to fill the seat formerly held by the late Councilman Jim Kilpatrick, who died of COVID-related complications last month — has drawn former candidate Nina Cobb, who finished fourth in a 10-way race for seat at-large seats last fall. Also seeking the post are former Killeen Planning and Zoning Commission member Ramon Alvarez and Jason Carr.
If two of the three names in the District 4 race look familiar to Killeen voters, they should. For the third time since 2017, incumbent Steve Harris and challenger Brockley Moore will square off for the District 4 seat.
Harris beat Moore by just 17 votes in 2017, and topped him by 60 votes out of 302 cast in 2019 to win his current term.
But the two men will have a third candidate to contend with for their constituents’ votes this time around — Michael Boyd, who filed for the seat on Jan. 28.
In Harker Heights, two seats on the City Council are coming open in May, and both are contested.
The Place 5 seat, currently held by two-term incumbent Jody Nicholas, has drawn four candidates, including two who just ran for city office in November.
Vitalis Dubininkas, who ran for the mayor’s post last fall, is vying for the Place 5 council seat, along with Jeffrey K. Harris, who ran for the Place 4 seat in November, is now seeking election to the Place 5 seat. Also running for the seat are first-time candidates Sam Halabi and Stacey L. Wilson.
Nicholas is ineligible to seek reelection because she has reached term limits, per the city charter.
In the Place 2 race, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Blomquist is being challenged for reelection by Howard “Scot” Arey, a local business owner who has been critical of some of the city’s fiscal decisions.
In the Killeen ISD board race, five candidates have filed for two open seats in the May 1 election.
Three of the candidates are running for the same position — the Place 6 seat held by retiring Trustee Minerva Trujillo. Seeking to succeed her are Riakos Adams, Cullen Mills and David “Rev” Jones.
Board President JoAnn Purser is was unopposed for reelection to her Place 7 seat until Friday, when Lan Carter — a frequent candidate for a board seat — turned in her paperwork to run in the May election.
Though filing ended Friday for all local races, weather may have been a factor in discouraging last-minute applicants.
Filing for the Central Texas College board of directors — where only incumbents Bill Beebe and Brenda Coley had turned in election paperwork — was impossible Friday, as the college administration office was closed because of inclement weather..
However, other local entities stepped up to help prospective candidates, despite the weather challenges.
The city of Killeen offered electronic filing Friday, providing an online form for candidates who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. The city also had a staff member working between 2 and 5 p.m. to receive applications in person. The city’s efforts were validated when Jason Carr was able to file before the deadline.
The Killeen Independent School District, which opened its offices at 10:30 a.m., had someone available to accept applications until 5 p.m., the filing deadline, and Carter took advantage.
No doubt, the arrival of yet another election will not be met with enthusiasm by many area residents.
Local voters — and candidates — were subjected to a grueling 11-month election campaign in 2020, from the opening of filing in January to the casting of ballots in November — thanks to the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic that delayed the original May 2 election.
Coupled with the contentious presidential election and its dizzying aftermath, it would be understandable if area residents were inclined to take some time off from the whole process.
But with so many local issues and challenges deserving our attention, we can’t afford to sit this one out.
Our city council and school board members set our local policies, improve our infrastructure, ensure crucial programs and services —and spend our tax dollars.
These public servants determine everything from how much is spent to maintain our roads to which methods will be used in educating our children. They decide budget priorities, set tax rates, approve fee schedules and determine zoning classifications — among other significant decisions.
But most of all, the people we choose to govern our cities and school districts are our employees. In other words, we elect them to work for us.
With that in mind, it’s time to start the interview process — and that process begins now.
Get to know the candidates. Find out why they are running. Learn what their priorities are.
The Herald can help in that regard. Over the next 2½ months the Herald will profile the candidates, ask them issue-oriented questions and compare their stances on a variety of topics of community importance.
Like it or not, it’s campaign season again.
Let’s get back to work.