One-hundred-ten ballots were cast for one of two candidates in the Maypearl mayoral race. And when the final tally was released, Phillip "Doc" Veltman had received 68 of those votes, 61.82 percent, to defeat former mayor John Wayne Pruitt in the May 4 election.
Veltman, however, passed away from health complications related to his Leukemia diagnosis two months ago.
"The city council will have to appoint someone," Maypearl city clerk Angie Smith stated. "I honestly don't' know how it's all going to work. I don't have a clue. This is all-new territory for all of us."
Veltman was born on January 16, 1948, in Huntington, Indiana to Willard and Dorothy Veltman. According to his obituary, Veltman moved to Dallas in 1949 and graduated in the first class of Dallas Baptist College in 1970. He taught throughout Skyline, DeSoto and Pine Tree High Schools for 12 years before he went to work for Dr Pepper in 1983, where he spent 30 years and often represented the company at the Texas State Fair.
Veltman moved to Maypearl in 1990 and lived there until his death on March 15. According to his obituary, Veltman served on the Maypearl ISD Board of Trustees for nine years, was an active member of the Community Emergency Response Team and was a prominent member of the First Baptist Church in Maypearl for 29 years.
"I've been here nine years and he's attended the whole time that I've been here," FBC children's and recreation pastor Paul Bowman stated. "He wasn't a huge personality - he was just a quiet, confident, solid guy."
FBC deacon Alan Anthony stated that Veltman's love of Dr Pepper, trains and God was well known throughout the community. Veltman even ran his own country gospel show every Sunday night for 16 years on KBEC in Waxahachie.
"For two or three hours every Sunday night, he'd play Gospel music," Anthony remarked. "People would call in and tell him what they wanted to hear, and he'd play it. His knowledge of gospel music was astounding."
FBC youth pastor Lucas Biggs stated that it was well known throughout the church that Veltman had heart problems. He stated that he struggled with that and Leukemia on a daily basis, but it never seemed to slow him down.
Biggs said that's why his loss left a significant impact on the church when he passed.
"It seemed like he was going to rebound," Biggs remarked. "Everybody was just kind of in shock. Even that Sunday, it just kind of seemed like there was a heaviness there for Phil."
"He was fighting it," Bowman iterated. "The fact that he was going to run for mayor, he wasn't planning on going anywhere. He thought he was going to be here."
When Veltman passed away in March, Maypearl city secretary Jeannie Evans stated that his name couldn't be taken off of the ballot because the deadline had already passed. With his name left on the ballot, voters had to decide between Veltman and Pruitt, who had previously served two prior terms as the city mayor.
Sixty-eight voters, such as Tommy Parker, chose Veltman.
"I mean, he had his name on there," Parker remarked. "And people obviously don't want Mr. Pruitt as their mayor. When you talk to people in town, it's obvious that a lot of people didn't want him back."
Fellow Maypearl resident Lee Anderson added, "because of Pruitt's history of being mayor before, I figured they would vote for a deceased guy and then appoint somebody as mayor instead of giving it to him. I had a feeling that everyone would vote against him."
According to the city's secretary, the new city council will have to appoint a mayor to serve out the term after votes are officially canvassed from the May 4 election. Maypearl City Council candidates Lisa Ferry, Chris Coppinger and Johnny Coleman all won their respective races and will be sworn in during the council's next meeting.
At that point, Maypearl Mayor Pro Tem Mark Partin and the new council will decide who to appoint.
While Anthony doesn't have any idea who the new council will appoint, he doesn't expect it to be Pruitt.
"And I love John Wayne. He is a good Christian man and everything else. But he has stepped on a lot of toes in this town," Anthony stated. "[...] It happens in small-town politics."
He added, "I'm not surprised that Phil won the election at all. When I found out his name was still on the ballot, I said 'Phil's going to win this thing.' Even when he's dead, he's still going to win it. I was not surprised at all."
The next Maypearl City Council meeting is Monday, May 13.
*A previous version of this article misattributed a partial quote to Alan Anthony regarding John Wayne Pruitt's previous tenure as mayor. The quote has been updated for accuracy to reflect its source as Paul Bowman. This article was also updated to remove a claim by Paul Bowman that stated John Pruitt was the "final vote on the alcohol" being allowed into the city limits "when he said he wouldn't be." The measure was approved by a majority of Maypearl residents in the General Election on Nov. 5, 2013.