The date for the City of Cleveland’s run-off election is June 18 with early voting June 6-10, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and June 13-14, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to Liberty County Elections Administrator Klint Bush. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day at the voting center at Cleveland Civic Center. That location is the only one that will be open for the entire county.
Cleveland City Council will meet next Tuesday, May 17, to canvass the May 7 election results.
“The City of Cleveland provided two proposed dates for the run-off election. One of the proposed dates is for early in the month of June and the other is for later in the month. I feel they will end up going with the earlier date,” Bush said.
The run-off election will decide the races of Position 4 and Position 5. Delores Terry, the incumbent Position 4 council member, lost her seat to two challengers – Desiree David and Rachel Hall.
With Cleveland’s city limits now extending beyond Liberty County into Montgomery and San Jacinto counties, a small number of voters in Montgomery County are impacted by the city races. Currently, the city-annexed land in San Jacinto County is not residential, and therefore has no voters in the city races.
With Liberty and Montgomery counties election results combined, David received a total of 258 votes (all from Liberty County) and Rachel Hall received a total of 220 (all but one vote coming from Liberty County). Terry fell well short of her challengers with just 160 votes (all from Liberty County).
Position 5 on the Cleveland City Council is currently held by Danny Lee, who could not seek reelection due to term limits. Three people sought his seat – Fred Terrell, Mike Doyle and Erika Montesnieto. Of the three, Terrell and Doyle received the most votes. None of the three candidates received the majority of the votes – 50 percent plus 1 – to avoid a run-off. Terrell had the most votes – 308 (all from Liberty County), and Doyle had 207 (one vote coming from Montgomery County). Montesnieto received 110 (all from Liberty County).
A third seat on Cleveland City Council was decided during the May 7 election – Position 3, a seat currently held by Councilman James Franklin. He was defeated by Eddie Lowery, a former city councilman. Lowery received 375 votes (all from Liberty County) and Franklin had 241 votes (one vote from Montgomery County).
Lowery will be sworn in at the May 17 council meeting. The other outgoing council members will be presented with plaques for appreciation for their years of service to the city, said Cleveland Mayor Richard Boyett.
Calculating the election results for Cleveland ISD has gotten a bit tougher in recent years as the District’s boundaries now includes not only Liberty County but San Jacinto and Montgomery counties as well. On election night, there was some initial discussion about a possible recount in the election for Position 4 – a tight race between challenger LaDerrington Baldwin and incumbent School Board President Willie Carter.
Most of the votes in this election came from Liberty County with Baldwin receiving 431 votes and Carter receiving 437 – a difference of just six votes. That race grew even tighter on Monday with Baldwin picking up another two votes from provisional ballots. Baldwin also received two votes in Montgomery County while Carter received one.
While Carter still enjoyed a tiny lead over Baldwin from those two counties, the distance between the two candidates grew once San Jacinto County’s votes were added in. Baldwin picked up another 31 votes while Carter received 43.
All totaled, Baldwin had 466 votes to Carter’s 481 – a difference of 15 votes.
Baldwin told Bluebonnet News that he is still contemplating a recount of the election. Recounts are typically paid for by the candidates, which can cost thousands of dollars per recount. With Cleveland ISD’s elections involving three counties, that would mean three recounts.
“Yes, it is going to be thousands of dollars and a very expensive process unfortunately but I’m still thinking about it. One thing I know is I touch[ed] many people and wish more registered voters would have gotten involved, but I will keep my head up and know I ran a great race for my first time being in politics,” said Baldwin.
Voter turnout dismal
In Liberty County, there are 48,763 registered voters. In the May 7 election, only 4,159 people, just 8.5 percent of the county’s registered voters, cast their ballots.
People complain on social media sites that they were not aware that an election was taking place even though articles have been posted and candidates’ signs are lining streets and highways.
“It’s been in all the newspapers. Information on the elections is posted in city halls and county buildings. City and school elections are held on the first Saturday of every May, and have been for many, many years,” said Bush. “Citizens have a responsibility to check their local government websites and seek out information about the elections. I hear people say, ‘My vote doesn’t matter,’ but it does. A candidate can win by just a vote.”
With schools and cities being two of the biggest taxing entities, it is incumbent upon property owners to be involved, the easiest way being elections where they can pick leaders who represent their values.
“I implore people to do their patriotic duty and vote. If people don’t vote, then we don’t have a democracy,” said Bush. “I am sure thousands of people have already complained on Facebook about the elections but didn’t take the time to vote.”