Voting surges ahead of Tuesday’s election

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light

Tuesday’s general election has drawn record numbers of early voters to the polls. Among those were a large number of first-time voters.

Midlothian resident Dione Greeson took her 19-year-old son, Dane, to vote for the very first time last Tuesday. While they were leaving the Midlothian Conference Center, they met an 82-year-old woman, Connie Lightsey, who was also voting for the very first time.

“Her sweet neighbor, Susie Willeford, brought her because Connie felt that after all of these years, her vote truly matters this year,” said Greeson, who is a secretary at LaRue Miller Elementary School. 

Ellis County Judge Todd Little also posted a picture on social media of himself taking a couple of young first-time voters to the polls in Red Oak on Monday.

Record numbers of voters have turned out nationally for early voting, many of them for the first time. A hotly-contested presidential race between Donald J. Trump and Joseph R. Biden is driving heavy turnout, not only in the state and nation but also in Ellis County. Early voting began in Texas on Oct. 13 and was to conclude on Friday at 7 p.m.

On Election Day, which is Tuesday, polls will be set up at nine locations in Waxahachie: Bible Baptist Church at 1400 FM 1446; Ellis County Womans Building at 407 W. Jefferson St.; Farley Street Baptist Church at 116 Brown St.; First United Methodist Waxahachie at 505 W. Marvin Ave.; Park Meadows Baptist Church at 3350 N. Hwy. 77; Salvation Army of Ellis County at 620 Farley St.; Southlake Baptist Church at 2378 S. Hwy. 77; The Avenue Baptist Church at 1761 N. Hwy. 77; and the Waxahachie Civic Center at 2000 Civic Center Lane. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Besides the race for president, there are a few federal and statewide races of interest. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn is being challenged by Democrat Mary “MJ” Hegar as well as Libertarian and Green Party candidates, while Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Wright is running against Democrat Stephen Daniel and Libertarian Melanie A. Black.  James “Jim” Wright, a Republican, is facing Democrat Chrysta Castaneda in the race for Railroad Commissioner.

A host of judgeships is up for grabs, as well as District 14 of the State Board of Education.

Closer to home, GOP State Sen. Brian Birdwell is running for re-election against Democratic challenger Robert Vick, and Republican House District 10 nominee Jake Ellzey will face Libertarian Matt Savino.

All county-level candidates who won primary elections in March will not face opposition in the general election and have been declared elected by the Ellis County Elections Office.

This year, the general election ballot will be much longer than it has been before. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city and school board joint election scheduled for May was moved to November.

In the city of Waxahachie, three City Council races are being contested. The most intriguing race is for the new Place 3, where incumbent councilmembers Melissa Olson and Kevin Strength are running against each other.

Mayor David Hill is being challenged by Paul Christenson for the new Place 1 seat, while Tiffany Duran, Patrick Souter and Doug Barnes are in a three-way race for Place 2.

Waxahachie voters last November approved a referendum changing the method of electing councilmembers from at-large to specific places on the council. The other two places will be set in the May 2021 election as the elected terms of incumbents Chuck Beatty and Mary Lou Shipley come up.

Only one seat is being contested on the Waxahachie ISD board of trustees in this year’s voting, as WISD board vice president Clay Schoolfield is being challenged by Amy Hedtke for the Place 2 seat. Place 1 trustee Judd McCutchen is unopposed for re-election.

With COVID-19, a sputtering economy and social unrest as a background, this election carries a lot of importance, which is compelling large numbers of people to cast ballots — some for the first time, such as Dione Greeson’s son and the voter that they met.

“It was such a special moment for these two first-time voters to meet each other,” Greeson said, “to respect and appreciate the moment.”