When the dust had settled on election night, voters across the country had brought President Barack Obama back for a second term, local voters had brought change through a new recreation center and election workers wondered if they should have brought a referee.
Sixty-four percent of the county’s 35,102 registered voters showed up at the polls during early voting and on Election Day – about 3 percent less than the turnout in the presidential election four years ago, according to Elections Administrator Lois Joplin. Some spent their time waiting in line voicing political opinions to others who didn’t particularly want to hear them.
“It was party affiliation,” Joplin said. “Some were a little more vocal about their opinions.”
Hood County is predominantly Republican. In the presidential race, almost 82 percent of Hood County voters voted for the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Seventeen percent voted for the Democratic incumbent team of Obama and Joe Biden.
Joplin said there were minor issues with some voters trying to take their cell phones to the polls. Since many cell phones have video and audio capabilities, they are not allowed around voting areas, Joplin said.
Another issue was 295 provisional ballots – the majority of them due to continuing issues with voter registration through the Department of Public Safety. Joplin said it is a “statewide problem” and a “breakdown in the system.”
Some provisional ballots also were the result of “false information going around that as long as you’re registered in one county, you can vote presidential in any county,” Joplin said.
Locally, a number of county officeholders – all Republican – were unchallenged on the ballot. There will be several new Republican officeholders come January who had no Democratic challengers on the November ballot. Lori Kaspar was one of them.
The current assistant district attorney is going to be taking over the county attorney’s office from Kelton Conner, who is retiring. Kaspar said there has been only one other female county attorney in Hood County’s history – and that was back in 1918 “before women could even vote.”
Kaspar said she is anxious to begin work and that she has ideas for cutting costs while still operating that office efficiently.
“I wish I could start tomorrow,” she said.
new rec center
Some who had spent three years trying to make a county-owned recreation center a reality celebrated the measure’s healthy passage with a party at a local hotel.
More than 58 percent of voters expressed their willingness to shoulder a modest tax increase to fund the center. The county will contract with the YMCA of Hood County to handle staffing and day-to-day operations. Swim meets will be hosted there, drawing out-of-town competitors and spectators.
“I think it will be a great asset. I think it will be good for the community here,” former Olympic gold medal winner Thane Baker said at American Town Hall Tuesday night before he and his wife Sally left the public viewing of election returns to head to the celebration.
Here is how the voting went for the rec center: During early voting, 7,622 voted for it; 5,185 voted against it. Total votes were 11,848 for, 8,428 against, for a 58/42 percent vote split.
granbury city council
Place 3 Granbury City Council member Mitch Tyra arrived at American Town Hall after early voting results had been posted, but he didn’t wait for Election Day box totals before conceding the race to Gary Couch. In early voting, Couch received 1,217 to Tyra’s 749.
“I’m going to go ahead and concede the race with early voting results,” Tyra told the Hood County News. “I don’t think there were enough votes today to make up the difference.”
In the total vote count, Couch received 62 percent of the vote.
Tyra congratulated Couch on his win. Couch, in turn, said that Tyra had been “a worthy opponent.”
Place 5 incumbent Laurel Pirkle had two challengers, but he managed to easily win re-election to a third term.
Pirkle received a 57 percent vote of confidence. Keith Tipton and former City Manager Harold Sandel each received a rounded 22 percent of the vote, with Tipton earning 10 votes more than Sandel.
Voters in Tolar approved a $7.2 million bond issue to fund a new elementary school and other facilities. The vote was 54 percent in favor.
“We will be able to construct a very nice elementary for our students where they will have added security, more space for growth, and everyone will be in the same building,” Superintendent Bruce Gibbs said.
In the school board of trustees races, incumbent Terry Leatherman beat Brooks Goodson with 55 percent of the vote to Goodson’s 45 percent. Bill Gilliam won the Place 4 seat over Tommy Matthews with 62 percent of the vote.
Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway breezed to re-election with a rounded 79 percent of the district-wide vote. Democrat Jim Riley won 19 percent of the district votes, and Libertarian Scott J. Ballard had 3 percent.
Conaway’s votes in Hood County were slightly higher than district-wide. He earned 80 percent of the votes here.
District 22 state Sen. Brian Birdwell, who lives in Granbury, easily bested Libertarian challenger Tom Kilbride both in Hood County and district-wide. Locally, Birdwell received more than 81 percent of the vote. District-wide, the vote division was 86 to 14 percent. District 60 state Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland will return to office.
Republican Roger “Cotton” Howell will be justice of the peace for the newly created Precinct 1 office. Howell received 3,604 votes – or almost 80 percent – to Democrat Nick Cangiamilla’s 911 votes.
Voters within the Precinct 1 JP boundary also handily approved the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption. Sixty-five percent of the voters okayed it.
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