No new challengers in local primaries

As filing in this year's political party primaries came to a close last week — for the second time this election season, thanks to the blanket of distractions caused by the ongoing redistricting debacle — Howard County officials say they are moving forward with May 29 as the date for the upcoming elections.Saundra Bloom, elections administrator for the county, said the secondary filing period ended Friday with no additional filings made locally.“We're in the process of getting the ballot together now that filings for the primaries are officially closed,” Bloom said. “I feel pretty confident at this point we'll be able to move forward with May 29 as the date for the primaries. It would take something pretty drastic to change it now.”The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 20 threw out judge-drawn voting districts for this year’s state and federal elections in Texas in a ruling that may help Republicans keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The justices unanimously told a lower court panel comprised of U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia and two other judges to create maps more similar to the Republican-controlled state Legislature’s plan.The dispute stems from maps drawn last year by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature after the 2010 census. Gov. Rick Perry, until recently a candidate for president, signed the maps into law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Jan. 20 that federal judges in Texas overstepped their authority by drawing up interim voting plans.Bloom said the redistricting issues isn't likely to have an impact on Howard County come election day, although at least one key piece of legislation has changed since this time last year.“Last year, when folks were coming in to vote we were told to inform them about the Voter ID law, which was set to go into effect in time for these elections,” Bloom said. “It would have required voters to present a photo ID before they could cast their ballot, and we wanted to prepare our local voters so it wouldn't come as a big surprise this year.“However, the Department of Justice has since rejected the state's Voter ID law, meaning it will not go into effect. Voters will be able to cast their ballot in the same manner they did last year. They are still required to register, as before, but the requirement to present a photo ID will not be in place.”Seats up for election in the 2012 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 City 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 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.