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Early voting light, officials say

May 5, 2012

Early voting totals are down in this year's municipal contest, according to local election officials, with just two days left to cast early ballots next week.

Early voting polls netted just 778 ballots — 678 in-person and 100 mail-in ballots — during the first five days of early voting, according to Howard County Elections Administrator Saundra Bloom, less than what she had expected in the contest.

“Considering the volatility of the 4B tax project on the ballot, I had really expected to see higher totals by this point,” Bloom said.

Voters are being asked to weigh in on a proposed multi-million dollar 4B project to overhaul the municipality's water and wastewater facilities using economic development funding, a proposal that has drawn a great deal of fire within the community.

With just Monday and Tuesday left for Big Spring voters to cast their ballots early, Bloom said she hopes to see a last minute rush, otherwise, the election could fall victim to area residents' busy May schedule.

“May is a tough month for many people to get to the polls on a weekend election day,” Bloom said. “May 12 is Mother's Day weekend, plus you have so many state playoff games going on that weekend. A lot of parents are also rushing around dealing with everything graduation presents during that time.

“There's no doubt about it, May is a busy month for Texans, and for many of them, if they don't vote early, they aren't likely to vote in the municipal election at all. So we're really hoping these last two days of early voting will be busy ones.”

Early voting polls — located in the Elections Office on the third floor of the county courthouse — are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Big Spring voters will only have one city council contest to weigh-in on this year, as the race for the District 4 seat begins to heat up.

Bobby McDonald — businessman and husband of incumbent District 4 Councilwoman Gloria McDonald, who decided not to run for re-election — faces off against Loretta Farquhar for the seat.

Big Spring voters will also be asked to decide the fate of a proposed overhaul of the municipality's water and wastewater facilities using up to $13 million in economic development funding through a 4B project.

Members of the Big Spring City Council voted unanimously to have the proposed project placed on the May ballot during their Feb. 14 meeting, a move that drew both praise and criticism from various voices in the community.

As part of the agreement between the council and the Big Spring Economic Development board of directors, if voters approve the project the EDC will provide $750,000 a year for the first two years, and then 40 percent of its sales tax revenue — with a floor of $500,000 and a ceiling of $750,000 for the following 18 years — with the city of Big Spring picking up the remainder of the tab.

Big Spring ISD has one contested election — District 2. Incumbent Maria Padilla is running against Ed Ware and Pat Deanda.

Forsan ISD has two at-large positions, held by Lewis Boeker and Misty Rhoton. Other names appearing on the ballot will be Chris Olson and Beckie Wash. Wash was appointed to the board last month to fill a spot left vacant by Derrick Looney. The position will be for an unexpired two-year term, while the other positions are for three year terms. Early voting will take place at the Howard County Courthouse.

Sands ISD will have three at-large positions on the ballot. Incumbents Tommy Staggs and Bill Barnes are running for re-election. Michael Wigington, Wes Higgins, Blayne Archuleta and Matt Snell are also seeking election. Early voting will take place at the school business office.

Coahoma Independent School District has three positions — all at large— up for election Brian Moore, board president, Jody Reid and Alan Wright are all incumbents running for re-election. Challengers are Leslie Tindol, Gerald King and Paul Lewis. Early voting will also take place at the Howard County Courthouse.

For more information on the upcoming elections, contact the Howard County Elections Administration at 432-264-2273.

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