It was a night of wins for public safety and schools in Kerr County on Saturday night.
Voters said yes to a pair of bond measures — one in Kerrville and one in Ingram — and sent a clear message in Kerrville that familiarity and longevity matter most.
Kerrville voters elected Judy Eychner to succeed Bill Blackburn as mayor, returned Brenda Hughes to Place 4 and selected Joe Herring Jr. to the Place 3 seat vacated by Eychner. Running as a slate, the victors won by more than 20 percentage points against their challengers — backed by hardline conservative groups like Liberty in Action and Kerr County Patriots.
"They've been studying these issues, and I was thankful that they let me be on the team," Herring of Eychner and Hughes. Herring is serving on the City Council for the first time since the early 1990s when he was mayor.
Eychner said she was "elated" to be elected.
"I just can't tell you what a wonderful feeling it is to know that they support the things that we're after, and mainly it's moving forward following the 2050 plan," Eychner said. "We're doing good things for our city."
Hughes said the message from voters was clear: "The voters said they trust me."
However, the night's biggest win was for Kerrville's public safety community. Voters approved Prop. A, the $45 million general obligation bond that will fund a 69,000-square foot public safety complex.
Early voting decided the bond's fate, with 55% of early voters saying yes. On Saturday, the voters proved more fickle — turning down the bond 52%-47%. It was one of the few races where the election day results didn't mirror those in early voting.
"This is a need building," Eychner said of the building. Liberty in Action attempted to paint the building as unnecessary and grandiose. Mayoral candidate Brent Bates said it was too expensive, adding it could be constructed cheaper.
In the end, voters said yes to the building — giving Kerrville its first purpose-built police station in its long history. The building will also house the fire administration, information technology department, municipal court and emergency operations.
"You know, healthy cities have some sort of debt," said Mindy Wendele, who headed the political action committee that supported the bond. "Because that means that they're taking care of business. And we have a great bond rating."
The victory for the city now puts it against a clock of rising interest rates, supply-chain problems and inflationary pressures. The building, along with all of its equipment and furnishings, is $45 million — no more.
In Ingram, school officials and supporters of the district celebrated the passage of a $25 million general obligation bond. The district plans to upgrade its campuses, including its burgeoning vocational education program. The vote was similar to Kerrville's bond, with 54%-46% victory for the bond.
In the Ingram Independent School District board of trustees race, voters returned incumbents Adam Nichols and Wayne McClintock.
Ingram's civic election was exceptionally tight and will probably face a recount. In the race for mayor, Claud Jordan Jr. held a nine-vote lead over Bill Warren. Current Mayor Kathy Rider was third.
In the City Council race, two incumbent aldermen — Rocky Hawkins and David Britton had narrow leads. Nineteen votes separated the margin between first and fourth place.
In the Kerrville Independent School District board of trustees race, voters returned incumbents Dr. David Sprouse and Michael Tackett to the board. It was the first trustee election in a decade for KISD.