May 1 hopefuls toss hats into ring

Major referenda also front and center across Ellis County for joint vote

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
The new Ellis County Elections Office, located at 204 E. Jefferson St. in Waxahachie.

The filing deadline has passed, and the fields have been set for the May 1 joint municipal and school board election across Ellis County.

Several contested races for city councils and independent school district boards of trustees will be up for voters to decide. But drawing as much interest as the various head-to-head races will be the referenda that will be on the ballot.

In Waxahachie ISD, a $127 million bond issue will be decided that would address rapid enrollment growth that is already beginning to strain campus capacities.

Under the bond proposal, WISD would convert the current Coleman Junior High — the former Waxahachie High School — into the district’s second comprehensive high school, which would house 1,200 high school students, making it a Class 4A school.

Also, the bond would allow for the building of two new elementary schools, move Coleman Junior High to the Hancock building, renovate the four oldest elementary campuses, expand the current Waxahachie High School to house programs currently located at Coleman, expand the district transportation facility, fund large maintenance items for campuses throughout the district, and allow for the purchase of land for future school sites.

The proposal was referred to voters during the board’s Feb. 8 board meeting.

The city of Midlothian has also placed before voters a package of four bond issues totaling $125.5 million if all four should pass. The referendum contains four propositions: the construction of a public safety and police headquarters at a cost of $46 million; a new City Hall and public library for $25 million; a recreation center for $19 million; and city street and road improvements for $35.5 million.

Elsewhere in Ellis County, a special election of the Mountain Peak Special Utility District will be held on April 24 to elect directors. Donna Mullins and Doug Clark are each running for 3-year terms as director for the district, which serves the southern part of Midlothian as well as parts of rural Ellis and Johnson counties. For information about voter eligibility, visit http://www.mountainpeakwater.com/elections.html .

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday set the May 1 date for a special U.S. House election to replace the late District 6 Rep. Ron Wright, who died from COVID-19 complications on Feb. 7. The candidate filing deadline for the special election is March 3, and early voting starts April 19.

So far, three Republicans have publicly declared their candidacies: John Anthony Castro, Marty Markland and Asa Palagi; while two Democrats have done the same: Jana Sanchez, who was the party nominee for the seat in 2018, and Shawn Lassiter.

Deadline for registering to vote in the May election is April 1. Early voting will take place April 19-23 and April 26-27 at vote center locations.

School races

Several local school districts will have contested elections to decide who will serve on school boards for the next three years.

In Waxahachie ISD, three Board of Trustee seats are up for election. Place 3 trustee Kim Kriegel, Place 4 trustee John Rodgers and Place 5 trustee Melissa Starnater are all incumbents whose terms are expiring.

Midlothian ISD will have two open seats on its Board of Trustees after board president Carl Smith died from COVID-19 complications in December and former board secretary Heather Prather did not file for re-election. The only incumbent on the May 1 ballot is Place 2 trustee Gary Vineyard Jr., who will face Lisa Castillo.

Four candidates — Crystal Rentz, Richard Pena, Develda Edgington and Steven Garippa — have filed for the Place 1 seat vacated by Smith’s death. In Place 3, Eduardo Gonzalez and Symphony Lowe are vying for the seat being vacated by Prather.

Elsewhere in the county, other school board seats are being contested. In Red Oak ISD, the terms of Place 6 trustee Michelle Porter and Place 7 board vice president Melanie Petersen are up for a vote. Ennis ISD has board elections for Places 3 (Walter Beasley), 4 (John Erisman) and 5 (Bill Chapman).

City races

The city of Waxahachie will have two three-way contested races for City Council. In Place 4, incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Mary Lou Shipley will face Billie Wallace and Paul Christenson; and in Place 5, incumbent Chuck Beatty will run against Darrin Robinson and Travis Smith.

In Midlothian, the Place 1 City Council race will be a rematch of three of the four candidates who ran in a special election last year to complete the term of the late Art Pierard. Incumbent Hud Hartson, who won the special election in a December runoff against Tiffany Robinson Carra, is running this time for a full three-year council term against previous opponents Carra and Allen Moorman.

President Pro Tem Justin Coffman, who holds Place 2 on the Midlothian City Council, is unopposed for re-election.

Elsewhere in Ellis County, the city of Red Oak will hold elections for the positions of mayor and councilmembers in Places 1 and 3. Ennis will hold elections for mayor and commissioner Ward 1.