Early voting expected to be brisk

October 20, 2012

Election season goes into full swing Monday with the start of early voting for the Nov. 6 General Election. Though the main focus for many voters may be the presidential election, Hood County residents face important decisions locally – including a bond election for a recreation center.

Elections Administrator Lois Joplin said she is anticipating brisk voter traffic similar to that of the 2008 presidential election. In that election, more than 67 percent of Hood County voters went to the polls.

Early voting will take place at Annex 1, 1410 W. Pearl St., from 8 to 5 on weekdays between Oct. 22 and 31. On Nov. 1 and 2, there will be extended voting hours, from 7 to 7. The last day for requests for mailed ballots to be received by Joplin’s office is Oct. 30.

Of Hood County’s 34,999 registered voters, 5,294 live within the city limits of Granbury. Those voters will have the opportunity to vote for two seats on the City Council.

Planning and Zoning Commission member Gary Couch is challenging Place 3’s Mitch Tyra, who is running for a second term. Laurel Pirkle has to beat former City Manager Harold Sandel and former Bed and Breakfast owner Keith Tipton in order to keep his Place 5 seat.

A U.S. senate race is on the ballot. The candidates are Republican Ted Cruz, Democrat Paul Sadler, John Jay Myers of the Libertarian party and David B. Collins of the Green party.

The League of Women Voters of Texas has a 2012 Voters Guide on its website, www. lwvtexas.org. Voters can read about the candidates in the U.S. Senate race and also learn about candidates in other major races.

texas senate and house

There are several races that impact Hood County residents on the district and community level.

State Sen. Brian Birdwell, who lives in Granbury and is a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, is being challenged by Democrat Lyndon Laird and Libertarian Tom Kilbride to represent District 22.

Laird was born and raised in Johnson County, and has a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baylor University.

Kilbride, a longtime Waco resident who retired five years ago, switched from the Republican party to the Libertarian party in 1976. He ran for Congress in 1982 and for state representative in 2006.

Eastland state Rep. Jim Keffer of District 60 was going to be facing the Green party’s Tony Mathison, but Mathison pulled out of the race sometime last month, Joplin said. She said that news of his withdrawal came too late for his name to be removed from the ballot.

county races

Several county races will be listed on the ballot, but only one – the newly created Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, position – is challenged.

In that race, Roger “Cotton” Howell, who won the Republican primary, is competing against Democrat Nick Cangiamilla. Howell is a county maintenance employee. Cangiamilla is in the insurance business.

Assistant District Attorney Lori Kaspar is the only candidate on the ballot to replace Kelton Conner as county attorney. Conner is retiring.

James Deaver and Jeff Tout won the Republican primary for the Precinct 1 and Precinct 3 county commissioner seats, with no challenges posed by the Democratic party.

recreation center

Also on the ballot is a $10 million bond election to build a recreation center. It would be owned by the county, but the county would contract with another entity to oversee operations. Plans are for the county to contract with the Hood County YMCA to be in charge of operations.

Swim meets would be held there, which chamber and economic development officials say would boost economic development. It would be built off James Road across from Acton Middle School.

If approved, the center will increase taxes by 2 cents per $100 of appraised value. On a $125,000 home, the increase would amount to $25 per year.

tolar school bond election

Tolar school district voters will consider a proposed elementary school and other school facilities in a $7.2 million bond issue.

The elementary would be built on the old high school football field facing FM Road 56.

The old fieldhouse, no longer in use, would be removed for parking.

The old elementary school is showing age and would not be cost effective to renovate, Tolar School Superintendent Bruce Gibbs said. Also, the elementary is out of classroom space, he said.

“We have elementary students in three buildings for classes, but they must go to the elementary gym for P.E. and music, and to the junior high building for lunch and to go to the library,” Gibbs said.

“During the typical day we have elementary students crossing parking lots and city streets to get to classes. With only one principal, he cannot be visible in all five buildings that have elementary students.”

If approved, the bond issue would increase taxes about $170 annually on a $110,000 house, Gibbs said.

Taxpayers age 65 and over will not see a tax increase on homestead property, Gibbs pointed out.

The first priority after the elementary building, Gibbs said, would be improvements to the junior high facilities.

Editor Roger Enlow contributed to this report.

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