While many might have thought that casting their ballots on Election Day would put an end to the collage of political signs around Kaufman County, it is only the beginning for three races. Sheriff, Precinct 3 Commissioner and tax assessor will each have a runoff race later this year.
Voters also decided to unseat two incumbents. Precinct 1 Commissioner Jimmy Joe Vrzalik lost his seat to challenger Greg Starek. Starek won with more than 55 percent of the vote, unseating the one-term incumbent.
Lance Gooden also took back the District 4 state representative seat from Stuart Spitzer in a close race. Gooden won with 51 percent of the vote. This is the third time Gooden and Spitzer have faced off for the post. Gooden was first elected in 2010 after unseating six-time incumbent Betty Brown. He held office for two consecutive terms facing a challenge from Spitzer each year. Gooden lost the 2014 race by less than 400 votes.
The Sheriff’s runoff election will be between Bryan Beavers, who won 42 percent, and Tim Spillman, who won 43 percent. Bruce Bryant won 13 percent of the vote.
While addressing potential voters at a forum earlier this year, Beavers said he is the only fiscally responsible candidate running for sheriff.
Spillman has said that he wants to fix the turnover rate at the sheriff’s department.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Kenneth Schoen will be in a runoff against challenger Terry Barber. Barber took 43 percent of the vote to Schoen’s 32 percent. Don Scarborough also ran.
During a forum earlier this year, Schoen defended his work on the commissioners court saying that his main job as a commissioner was to maintain the 209 miles of road in Precinct 3 and to keep taxes low. The commissioner said that when he came back to the office the road budget had been “cut in half.”
“We are back on a positive note,” he said.
Barber followed, saying that his experience in law enforcement was part of what qualified him for the job. He also told the crowded Terrell Furlough Middle School lunchroom that he is a constitutional conservative.
“I am pro God, pro life and pro Second Amendment.”
Whoever wins the runoff election will go head-to-head against Democratic candidate J. C. Jackson, who ran unopposed.
Kaufman County voters will also have a final say on tax assessor in a runoff election. Incumbent Tonya Ratcliff won 45 percent of the vote, while Brenda Samples took 35 percent. Former tax assessor Dick Murphy took 19 percent of the vote.
Ratcliff has noted her Navy career when defending her qualifications. She has also said that during her time in office she has changed several procedures that previously had led to the theft of more than $100,000 from the county.
Samples says she is a solid conservative, but not a politician with a political agenda. According to Samples the tax assessor’s office is essentially the customer service section of the county.
In Texas, a runoff election occurs when no primary candidate receives 50 percent plus one of the votes. There is no runoff in the general election.
The biggest blowout of the night came in the race for District 422 Judge. Incumbent B. Michael Chitty won 74 percent of the vote. Harry Weaver, who took 26 percent of the vote, challenged Chitty.
Newcomer Chad Jones beat out Dan Sharp for Precinct 4 Commissioner. Jones will take over for sitting constable Bryant Morris who did not run for re-election.
In presidential politics State Senator Ted Cruz managed to hand Donald Trump one of his only losses of the night. In Kaufman County Cruz won 45 percent of the vote, Trump won 32 percent and Marco Rubio took 12 percent.
Hillary Clinton also won the state and county last night. She took 70 percent of the primary vote compared to Bernie Sanders’ 27 percent in Kaufman County.
Kaufman County had a record number of early voters this primary election. Nearly 10,000 voters according to a release from Kaufman County, which nearly doubled the number of early voters in the last two primary elections combined.
Brandi Greenhaw, an election judge for Precinct 28, said that there was a good stream of voters casting their ballots in person all day.
“The turnout has been really good today,” she said.
One of those voters was Kenny Cox.
Cox said he does not affiliate with any particular party, and when it comes to picking a president, he has not yet made up his mind.
“I’m one of those people that will probably wait until the last minute,” he said.
Cox called 2016 one of the worst years he has seen for presidential candidates.
“I don’t have any candidates that I’m excited about,” he said.
Cox said he never misses an opportunity to cast his ballot.