By CHRIS AGEE
Incumbents were not safe in Saturday’s city council and school elections as some challengers on both ballots were successful in unseating their opponent.
Nearly 400 voters cast ballots for city elections with almost half, or 183, taking advantage of the early voting period. Similarly, 210 of 499 school board voters took to the polls early.
According to final but unofficial results released by Elections Administrator Judith Evans, the only contested council race ended in an upset with incumbent Place 1 Councilman Rick Bennett losing re-election to sitting Ward 4 councilman Kevin Harrison.
“I wish Kevin all the best,” Bennett said Monday afternoon. “I wish all the council the best and that they will lead the city into a new year of prosperity, health and happiness.”
Calling the council a “good group of people,” Bennett said he has been happy to serve the community during his expiring term.
“I’ll pray for them and if I can be of assistance to them, I’ll be there,” he concluded.
Harrison received nearly twice as many votes as Bennett, securing a 252 to 135 victory. His vacated Ward 4 seat was filled by newcomer Karium Carter, who ran unopposed.
“It’s just an opportunity to give back to a city that has given so much to me over my lifetime,” Carter said.
The Mt. Hermon First Baptist Church pastor added he is “homegrown and raised” in Mineral Wells and looks forward to helping make a difference in the community.
“I wanted to give back in whatever way I could, not only as an individual but as the leader of a church,” he added.
Also on the ballot with no opposition was former councilman Bill Terry, who received 166 votes to replace Margaret Hill Colton as Place 2 council member.
Tammy Underwood was re-elected to represent Ward 2 without a challenger.
In school board elections, newcomer Sunny Gail Lee defeated incumbent Mike Tincher by a 273 to 221 margin.
“Needless to say, I am excited about the outcome of the election and humbled at the same time,” Lee, a Graford ISD science teacher, said Monday.
She credited the hard work of volunteers throughout her campaign with making her victory possible.
“Also, I would like to thank the Mineral Wells Index for the fair coverage of the election,” she added.
Lee said she plans to "elicit an educator's point of view throughout the duration of my term” and “give fellow board members a teacher’s glimpse of how our decisions impact classrooms.”
She thanked those who voted for her and promised to “keep in mind the best interest of the community’s future – the children.”
Tincher, who served six years on the board, commended Lee on a good campaign.
“She ran a good race and came out ahead,” he said. “The only thing I regret is only 400 and some people voted.”
He said Lee will be in “good hands” as she assumes her new role, saying she has a “good board to work with and a great superintendent.”
Scott Aaron was the lone incumbent to win his race as he retains the Place 4 seat by a nearly two-to-one margin over challenger Paul Harrison.
Harrison congratulated Aaron on his victory, saying that “we’ll just try again, harder, next year.”
He recognized the importance of concerned citizens in school board elections.
“I want to thank the voters that saw the need for a change in the Mineral Wells ISD,” he said.