May 29 primary looming

Area election officials won't have much time to breath following this weekend's municipal elections, as early voting in this year's political party primaries is set to begin Monday morning at 8 a.m.The primaries — normally conducted in March, but held up this year due to federal lawsuits pertaining to the statewide redistricting process — have been pushed back several times until officials finally settled on May 29.Saundra Bloom, elections administrator for Howard County, said the lack of down time between the municipal and school board elections and the primaries shouldn't offer any problems for her office.“It's probably been a headache for the people who have to program the voting machines, but it shouldn't effect us too much,” said Bloom. “We have enough voting machines, so we won't have to use the same ones from the municipal elections for early voting in the primaries Monday morning. All of the programing is in place and ready to go, so I feel pretty confident going into Monday.”While the primary polls — both Republican and Democrat — will all be located in the same office, Bloom said it's important to remember they are still very much separate.“We'll have early voting for both primaries set up here in the County Elections Office, which is located on the third floor of the county courthouse,” she said. “However, voters need to remember they can only vote in one or the other, Republican or Democrat. They cannot vote in both.”Early voting will continue Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. through May 25.“We'll also be offering extended hours May 22 and 24 from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.,” Bloom said. “We do this to try to make early voting accessible to folks who can't get away from work between traditional work hours. Since this year is a presidential contest, the turnout on election is likely to be higher, so it's a good idea to go ahead and vote early if you can, that way you can miss any long lines.”Seats up for election in this weekend's election include 118th Judicial District Attorney, currently held by Hardy Wilkerson; Howard County sheriff, currently held by Stan Parker; county attorney, held by Joshua Hamby; tax assessor collector, held by Kathy Sayles; Precinct 3 county commissioner, held by Jimmie Long; and Precinct 1 county commissioner, held by Emma Brown.Parker has filed to run for re-election, as have Long, Green and Wilkerson. Parker has drawn an opponent in local resident M.O. Horton. The two will face off on the Republican ticket, according to election officials.Brown has drawn a trio of challengers, as Howard County Jailer Larry Torres, former Big Spring Council member Oscar Garcia and Ed Ware, who has attempted to unseat the longtime commissioner previously, will face off for the Precinct 1 seat on the court.Brown will face Torres in the Democratic primary, while Garcia and Ware will have to compete for the Republican nomination for the seat.Longtime Tax Collector and Assessor Kathy Sayles announced she will not be running for re-election. However, Diane Carter, an employee of tax collection office, will be running unopposed for the office on the Republican ticket.Also running unopposed are Long, Green and Wilkerson. All three are running on the Republican ticket.For more information on the upcoming elections, contact the Howard County Elections Administration at 432-264-2273.