Incumbent Ben Goodwyn retained his seat in the run-off election for Red Oak City Council Place 2 on Saturday, defeating his opponent by 54 votes after losing by 11 in the general election last month.
“The people have spoken,” Goodwyn said, noting he plans to focus on city development.
Saturday’s election saw 297 votes cast for Goodwyn and 243 for his opponent, Dawn Little. In the general election, the candidates received 262 and 273 votes, respectively.
A three-year city council veteran, Goodwyn outlined plans to develop Red Oak’s older sections to raise property values and make the city a “destination spot” in the area.
“Long term, I’m particularly concerned with the redevelopment of the older section of town and putting in infra-structure for our growth,” he said, such as widening sections of Ovilla Road and Highway 342.
Short term, Goodwyn says he is focused on a water line from Dallas, road development and improvements to sewage and drainage for the city.
“We need to also make some contribution for our senior citizens, do a little something for them in that area,” he said.
Little said she was pleased with election turn-out and expressed faith in divine providence in the proceedings.
“I was just really excited that my supporters got out and voted, it was exciting to see people get out and vote,” she said. “I just believe that God puts people in office and he’s the one that takes people out.”
Both candidates acknowledged a recent controversy regarding campaign material sent out by Little two weeks before the run-off election may have affected the results. The front of the mail-outs contained the slogan “Our troops support Dawn Little and so should you,” while the back featured a photo of uniformed U.S. soldiers holding a sign reading “Support Dawn Little Red Oak City Council Place II.”
Questions arose regarding the legality of the photo under military policy as well as its authenticity.
“I wouldn’t have done anything differently if I had another chance to do that,” Little said, saying the photo had been e-mailed to her by her brother, who is in the U.S. military, and helped include him in her campaign.
“I did nothing wrong and my brother had done nothing wrong,” she said. “It was an authentic picture, I found out that there was no doctoring of the photo and that everything was legal, the spokesperson for the U.S. Army came out and said there was no wrongdoing.”
Goodwyn called the controversy “regrettable.”
“Most people, from what I heard, were taken aback by using troops for political purposes,” he said. “I know it hurt her quite a bit, or at least I thought it did.”
Goodwyn said, however, that the mail-outs never came into play as far as his campaign was concerned, though the issue received considerable press coverage.
“It was part of the campaign in the sense that everyone knew about it,” he said. “I didn’t criticize her at all, just said it was ‘regrettable.’ That’s her business,” he said.
Paul Boyce with the U.S. Department of Defense Public Affairs Office said in an interview last week that “Traditionally, soldiers are discouraged from endorsing any candidate” or participating in political activities while in uniform.
To his knowledge, however, there is no penalty for candidates using photos of soldiers in campaign material, he said.
Win or lose, both candidates say they are relieved the stress of the campaign trail is behind them.
“I’m really glad all of that is over, allows me to get back to retirement and relaxation and not worrying about it day and night,” Goodwyn said.
Little said she will remain involved and informed on Red Oak developments and pursue volunteer opportunities around the city.
“We’ll just watch and see how things from here. I’m just glad it’s over with right now,” she said. “I would really encourage people to be abreast of the issues of City Council because it will affect everyone.”
Little said she might seek election again if she sees a need for change in the governing body.
“If I feel the need to run against someone that I’m not happy with, I could run again, but, at this point, I don’t feel like I would run just for the sake of being on the council,” she said.