Ellis County voters turned out in high numbers at the runoff elections Tuesday, with the majority voting for change in the Precinct 3 County Commissioner and Precinct 1 Constable races.
Nearly 10,000 Ellis County votes were cast in the primary runoff election with 4,594 early votes.
In the race for Ellis County Commissioner Pct. 3, challenger Paul Perry defeated incumbent Heath Sims by a 133 vote margin (1,633-1,500).
In the race for Ellis County Constable Precinct 1, incumbent Ben Fry was defeated by challenger Roy A. Callender Jr., winning by a 1,229-924 margin.
“I was overwhelmed by the numbers, you always want to see higher turnout,” said Paul Perry, winner of the Pct. 3 County Commissioner election. “It surprised and heartened me to believe that people really care and pay attention. We should have 50 to 60 percent of the voters turn out for every vote and more informed voters. In 100-plus degree weather at a time when we’ve never had a runoff election scheduled before — it surprised me so many came out, and I’m glad for it.”
Incumbent Pct. 1 Constable Ben Fry attributed the higher turnout to the U.S. Senator race between Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst.
“I was fairly surprised at the turnout,” Fry said. “I felt like Dewhurst and Cruz caused enough interest to bring in a few more votes. I was glad we had so many people out to vote, though I wasn’t happy with the results. Many people voted and I feel like that made it a much fairer election.”
Fry’s challenger and winner of the Pct. 1 Constable race, Roy Callender Jr. thanked the voters and said their votes made this election possible.
“This was a long election race and we had a large turnout. I’m quite excited that the voters turned out like they did,” Callender said. “It’s always good to see the citizens exercise their right to vote. None of this would be possible without them, and I want to thank them for voting.”
Some said the voters made a statement about their desire for change at the polls by voting for both challengers in these races.
“I think this was an issues and message election,” Perry said. “I think they were voting to make a statement. A lot of people were upset over the tax increase, and they felt like it was not the right answer to the budget problems during a recession when taxpayers’ income is reduced and some are without jobs.”
Callender agreed, saying Ellis County citizens voted for change.
“Yes, I do believe they made a statement. I believe they voted for change,” he said. “I feel the citizens got out and voted for who they thought was the best candidate, and they got what they voted for.”
Fry said he believes the voters had decided it was time for a change.
“I’m sure there is a reason,” he said. “Change can be a good thing and that’s obviously what they voted for.”
Several of the candidates also expressed their feelings about the voting results.
“My wife and I are quite excited and honored to serve precinct 1. I would like everyone to know I’m for those who voted for and those against me. I won’t isolate anyone,” Callender said. “I believe Ben Fry ran a good campaign and I have nothing negative to say.”
Fry said he was not happy with results, but wished the best for the county and its citizens.
“I feel like anybody would feel, I don’t like it,” he said simply. “It is what it is and life goes on. I felt like I had more support than I’ve ever had as far as people coming out and helping me put out signs. I want to especially thank my wife Tammy and my daughter Kelsie. Thanks to my committee, you guys worked very hard.”
Perry said he was elated and considered it an honor to be elected as county commissioner.
“From my perspective, it was a wonderful result. I had a very tough and incredible opponent, I congratulate him and his supporters – they worked hard and did a great job,” he said. “I feel the same honor as when I served as JP (Justice of the Peace), and I believe it is a privilege to serve the citizens of Ellis County. We did a great job campaigning and I’m proud of all my supporters – a lot of people worked long hours in intense heat.”
Pct. 3 County Commissioner incumbent Heath Sims could not be reached for comment.
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