The City of Wharton postponed the May 2 election due to COVID-19, and it will now be on Nov. 3.
The matter was officially decided when the Wharton City Council during a Monday, April 13 regular meeting, unanimously approved to postpone the election. The decision came after Gov. Greg Abbott’s proclamation to suspend certain sections of the Texas Election Code.
With Texas still under a disaster declaration due to the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Abbott’s decision paved the way for political subdivisions of the state to postpone general and special elections.
During the Wharton meeting, leaders were told the city’s next uniform election date would be Nov. 3.
The following day, the City of Wharton issued a news release about the ordinance that passed.
“The Wharton City Council took additional proactive actions to further safeguard the public health and safety of its citizens during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Among the council seats that are up for election is the mayoral race, and one council seat.
Mayor Tim Barker is contested by challengers Steven Roberts and Annie Marie Johnson.
The At-Large Place 6 seat is currently held by Alice Heard-Roberts. She is being challenged by Larry Dwain Pittman.
Steven Schneider (District 2) and Don Mueller (District 4) are unopposed.
Wharton ISD elections postponed
The Board of Trustees with the Wharton Independent School District decided last month to postpone the election due to the coronavirus crisis. The decision was made as the trustees were practicing social distancing, one of the first bodies of government in Wharton County to do so when the coronavirus crisis initially began in March.
WISD trustees were told by former Superintendent Tina Herrington that other school districts and municipalities had either already decided or were likely to postpone their elections until Nov. 3. Had WISD moved forward with an election in May and been the lone government body to do so, it would have paid the county thousands of dollars for use of election personnel and voting machines, instead of splitting the costs with others ISDs.
One of the WISD board races is for Position 6 between Fred Johnson and La Tisha Fisher-Gilmore. Trustee Dr. Cody Pohler decided not to run after initially filing.
The Position 7 seat will pit incumbent Curtis W. Evans against challenger Daniel Gaona.
Sherrell Speer (Position 5) is unopposed.
Wharton County tax assessor-collector race
In advance of the early voting that would have begun for all ISDs and cities on Monday, April 20, the county’s Election Administrator Cindy Richter said all the May elections have been postponed.
For the county, this includes the runoff for the tax assessor-collector that has Cindy Hernandez and Sarah Hudgins still waiting for their race to be decided.
Their Republican primary runoff, which was scheduled Thursday, May 28, now moves months ahead to July 14.
Voters went to the polls on March 3 to decide a three-person race that included Jessica Schultz. Hernandez had 3,127 votes and Hudgins 2,691 votes, but no one garnered 51 percent or more of the vote, so a runoff was forced.
The eventual winner will replace Patrick Kubala, who resigned his post in September 2018. With no Democratic challenger, this runoff will decide the county’s next tax assessor-collector. Deputy Grace Utley was unanimously appointed by the Commissioners Court in 2018, and at the time she never intended to run for office.
Richter released the following information as it affects Applications for Ballot by Mail (ABBM)
“Applications for ballot by mail for voters over the age of 65 will still be valid for the postponed elections. Applications submitted based on the expected absence from the county will not be valid for the postponed elections,” Richter said. “New ABBMs will need to be submitted for the July and the November elections.”