Voters go to polls on Saturday

U.S. House special election, Midlothian city referendum spice up ballot

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
The Midlothian Conference Center.

Normally, the early-May joint city and school elections are a staid affair, with local candidates vying genially for local office. The last two election cycles, however, have been anything but normal.

Last spring’s balloting was shoved to November because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the stakes in Ellis County are boosted by not only a major Midlothian city bond referendum, but also a U.S. congressional special election made necessary by the Feb. 7 death of District 6 Republican Rep. Ron Wright, as well as three hotly-contested Midlothian ISD board races.

Election Day voting begins Saturday at 7 a.m. at the Midlothian Conference Center and will continue until 7 p.m.

A total of 23 candidates for the House seat will appear on the ballot for voters to decide among. The top two finishers, should no candidate receive more than 50 percent of the vote, will advance to a June 5 runoff. The Midlothian Chamber of Commerce, expecting a runoff, has scheduled a candidates’ luncheon for Wednesday, May 12 at the Midlothian Conference Center.

Among the candidates are Midlothian Republican Jake Ellzey, the freshman Texas House District 10 representative who was elected in November. But the race is hotly contested with funds from across the nation pouring into campaign coffers. Ellzey’s campaign, for example, reported more than $500,000 in contributions.

Susan Wright, the widow of the late congressman, has run a strong campaign, as well as former Trump administration officials Brian Harrison, Sery Kim and Mike Egan. Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler and a GOP candidate for Congress in Nevada in 2018, has also been active on the campaign trail; and Republican Michael Wood has staked out territory as the anti-Trump candidate.

Several hopeful Democrats are also running in a district that has turned bluer in recent years, mostly because of changing voting patterns in the suburban Tarrant County portion of the district. Among the more prominent Democratic candidates are Ellis County native Jana Sanchez, who was the party nominee for the seat in 2018, as well as Lydia Bean, a sociologist and a faculty research associate at the University of Texas-Arlington.

Local races

For Midlothian voters, the city has proposed a total of four propositions asking voters to approve the issuance of bonds to address growth in the city. Those propositions include:

Proposition A — the construction of a public safety and police headquarters at a cost of $46 million;

Proposition B — a new City Hall and public library for $25 million;

Proposition C — a recreation center for $19 million; and

Proposition D — city street and road improvements for $35.5 million.

This year, three MISD board seats are up for election to 3-year terms, and two of them are open. Place 1 trustee and board president Carl Smith died in December from COVID complications, and Place 3 trustee Heather Prather is not running for re-election.

This year’s board elections are noteworthy because of the number of candidates of color who are running. Two of them, Symphony Lowe and Eduardo Gonzalez, are seeking the Place 3 seat. Four candidates are vying for the open Place 1 seat: Richard Peña, Develda Edgington, Crystal Rentz and Steven Garippa.

The only incumbent on the MISD ballot, Place 2 trustee Gary Vineyard, Jr., will face Lisa Castillo.

Only one city council seat is being contested as incumbent Place 6 councilmember Hud Hartson is being challenged by Tiffany Robinson Carra and Allen Moorman in a rematch of candidates from last November’s special election. Hartson defeated Carra in a runoff last December to complete the term of the late Art Pierard.

Mayor Pro Tem Justin Coffman is unopposed for re-election to a new 3-year term in Place 5.