Benavides wins runoff; to be sworn in Tuesday

The Big Spring City Council will canvass the results of the Saturday night runoff between District 5 challengers during its Tuesday meeting, awarding the position to Raul Benavides, who won the election with 63 percent of the vote.Benavides and challenger J.D. Smith first met in the May 11 election — joined by fellow political hopeful Clint Collins — with Benavides taking top honors with 44.21 percent (187 ballots) of the vote, while opponents Smith won 33.81 percent (143 ballots) and Clint Collins took 21.99 percent (93 ballots).However, because Benavides was unable to garner 50 percent or more of the vote, a runoff election for the seat was called.Benavides came out ahead Saturday, taking 63 percent (193 ballots) of the vote, while Smith garnered 37 percent (111 ballots). According to Howard County election officials, there were 2,200 eligible voters in District 5, with just 14 percent weighing in on the weekend contest.Benavides said the main concerns voters have expressed to him are very serious challenges for the city of Big Spring, especially in the coming years.“The voters I spoke with were concerned about water, infrastructure and trash pickup. Those were the three main topics on their minds,” he said. “Trash services have been spotty, at best, and that has been very challenging for the city. The drivers are being snagged by the oil industry and we're going through the same pains Midland-Odessa has gone through. Those were their main concerns and, as city leaders, we have to address them.”Benavides will be sworn in during Tuesday night's meeting, while outgoing District 5 councilman and mayor pro-tem Craig Olsen will be presented with a token of appreciation for his service.Also during the meeting, the council will consider:• Final reading of a resolution authorizing the auction of Howard County trustee properties to the highest bidder.• Final reading of an ordinance that will call for the City Fire Marshall to be assigned by the City Fire Chief instead of the City Manager and assigning the fire marshall all of the duties currently set forth by the International Fire Code. The council will also consider first reading of an ordinance calling for the creation of a new lieutenant position within the fire department to perform health inspections.• Final reading of an ordinance amending the pay scale for the fire department providing for certificate, education and assignment pay in accordance with Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code.• Final reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 14 of the Big Spring City Code entitled "Offenses," Article 1 entitled "General," by adding a new section in order to prohibit the introduction of certain contraband items into a private or public correctional institution. The ordinance defines contraband as any item not provided by or authorized by the operator of the correctional institution, or any item provided by or authorized by the operator of the correctional institution which has been altered to accommodate a use other than the originally intended use.• Final reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 13, Article Five of the Big Spring City Code entitled "Food and Food Establishments" to change the definition of regulatory authority to include any certified health inspector employed by the city and to charge the City Manager with conducting administrative hearings related to food and food establishments.• Emergency reading of a resolution authorizing the mayor to negotiate and execute community services contracts and other necessary documents with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services for the Big Spring Senior Center.The council is also expected to adjourn into an executive session to deliberate the appointment and evaluation of the city manager. Longtime municipal employee Todd Darden has served as interim city manager for several months since Gary Fuqua announced he would be retiring from the position.Tuesday's meeting is expected to get under way at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. Fourth Street. Fore more information call 264-2401. Also, a complete copy of the meeting agenda can be found online at