Early voting was light on the first day of balloting in the runoff between incumbent Clay Walker and challenger Bradley Edge for the final undecided seat on the panel.
A total of 50 votes had been cast as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, with only 31 coming on Monday, the first day of the early voting period.
Election judge Nell Furney reminded voters to bring their voter registration cards with them, although a driver’s license will suffice in a pinch.
“They need to bring the card — the card comes first,” Furney said today. “But if they don’t have their card, they can show us their driver’s license.”
Once upon a time, voting clerks would allow people to vote without cards or photo IDs, but voting laws, not to mention enforcement and oversight, have heightened in the years since the 2000 presidential election.
“That’s the law,” Furney said.
Early voting will continue through Tuesday, June 9, at the Sulphur Springs Municipal Building, 125 South Davis St.
On most days, early votes can be cast from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A law passed by the 79th Texas Legislature, however, mandates that the polls must be open for 12 hours on two weekdays during the early voting period. Consequently, early voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4.
Usually, the extended voting days are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but this early voting period required a change.
“Because the City Council is meeting tonight, we had to move it to Wednesday and Thursday,” Furney explained.
And while voters can wait until the final day to cast early ballots, anyone who had to wait in line in the waning hours of the earlier election will know better than to put it off until the last minute.
General voting in the runoff will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, at the Sulphur Springs Independent School District Administration Building, 631 Connally St.
A runoff election is required when no single candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes cast.
“The [city] charter provides that if in one or more places one candidate does not receive a majority vote, a runoff election shall be held between the two candidates for each place with the highest number of votes,” said City Secretary Gale Roberts. “The Secretary of State’s office defines a majority as 50 percent plus 1.”
Walker received 700 votes, or 45.1 percent of the 1,552 ballots cast in the May 9 council elections, while Edge was second with 535 votes, or 34.47 percent. Three other candidates — Steve Carmody, Allen Vaughan and Claude Walter — were in the race for the post held by Walker since 2002.
The runoff pits a two-term councilman with extensive experience in building and road construction against a political newcomer. Both have continued to do some campaigning since the May 9 elections. Edge spoke to and took questions from Downtown Business Alliance members at the organization’s regular meeting one week ago. Walker, who was out of town for that meeting, was scheduled to do the same at today’s DBA session.
Bradley Edge, 27, is a 2000 graduate of Sulphur Springs High School who graduated from East Texas Baptist University in 2004.
Edge is a funeral assistant and pre-need counselor with Murray-Orwosky Funeral Home. He is youth choir director and a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Sulphur Springs. He previously was active with the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and Relay For Life.
During a candidate forum held in March, Edge said his number one reason for wanting to be on the City Council is to see some economic growth.
“It’s very hard for someone my age with a college degree to find a job in a town this size, unless you’re a school teacher or a nurse,” he said. “That’s about the only major college degree jobs we have in this town, with a few others scattered around elsewhere.”
He said the main complaint he’s heard during his campaign dealt with street conditions.
“We would all agree Main Street is a beautiful project. It looks great,” he said. “But sometimes looks are deceiving. Its functionality is a little questionable because it’s a little small, and we’ve heard a few complaints about how that was done, and maybe we need to rethink as we move forward with Connally Street and with others.”
Clay Walker, 55, graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 1971, then went on to get a degree in construction science. He and his wife, Peggy, have been married 23 years and have three daughters.
He was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the council in 2002, then had no challengers for re-election in 2003 or 2006.
Walker’s work experience ranges from being an auto body shop owner and manager, to seven years working in church construction in 15 states, and managing highway construction projects for 7 1/2 years.
“I’ve got some pretty good credentials with respect to roads, and I feel like my experience and knowledge is valuable for a place on the City Council,” he said during the March forum.
At another forum in April, Walker indicated the city was doing many things right, citing increases in sales tax revenue and population.
“In the last 13 months, we have had 12 where we’ve had an increase in retail tax revenues, and we’ve kept low unemployment,” he said. “I think we’ve held up pretty good, unlike w
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