City, school get fresh faces
The Port Aransas ISD board of trustees gained a new member and the City of Port Aransas gained two new city council members Saturday, following elections for both those bodies.
The difference was that there was a contest for the school board; there was none for the city council.
Incumbent school trustee Chuck Borders was ousted from the board by retired teacher Rita Reed, 255-228, with Reed getting 52.8 percent of the vote. Her final win came in Saturday's inperson vote; early and absentee ballots, counted earlier, showed Reed and Borders at a dead-heat tie with 147 votes each.
Reed is scheduled to be sworn in at the next school board meeting, set for Thursday, June 21.
Keith Donley was unopposed for council Place 1, the seat formerly held by Beverly Charles. Charles, who filed for re-election, withdrew from the race after Donley announced and said she would support his candidacy, although in the end she drew 148 votes, 35.66 percent of the total vote.
Place 3 went to Charles Bujan, the only candidate. Bujan ran for the place that had been occupied by Jerry Watson before Watson died earlier this year. Jim Polewchak was appointed as temporary council member in Place 3 until the election. When he was appointed, Polewchak said he would not run for a council seat this election.
Rick Pratt was unopposed for Place 5.
All three are scheduled to be sworn in when the council meets tonight, Thursday, May 17, at 5 p.m.
Of 27 proposed city charter amendments, all passed except three having to do with the Bill Ellis Memorial Library board.
Proposition 22, which proposed that the board act as an advisor to the city manager rather than the city council, was defeated 266-175, with 60.32 percent of the voters casting ballots against it.
Proposition 23 would have eliminated the board's authority to govern the library and nominate the librarian. Of 451 voters, 315 voted against that amendment, or 69.84 percent of the voters.
Proposition 24 would have allowed the city manager to call library board meetings instead of the city council; it retained the board chairman's authority to call meetings. However, it was defeated 245-195, with 55.68 percent of the voters disagreeing with the proposal.
Other amendments ranged from proposition 14, which aligns city special election dates with the dates called for by Texas law, to proposition 20, which lets the city manager set protocols for withdrawing city funds instead of requiring a city ordinance from the council. Proposition 14 sailed through 389-42, but proposition 20 only squeezed past with a 224-203 vote.
The ballot did not allow for voters to pull a "straight ticket" vote on the amendments, voting either "yes" or "no" on the entire slate of propositions.
Asked after the election what her plans would be as a school board member, Reed said she intended to work on spending, one of the items in her campaign. "I want to take a look at the money we're sending back to (Educational Service Center) Region 2," she said.
Reed said she also would like to work toward less reliance on teaching tests such as TAKS and more toward a general education of students.
"I've heard of third-graders who are so afraid of the TAKS that they break down and cry," she said.
Asked his plans as a city council member, Donley said, "I'm going to do just what I promised I'd do - listen and vote my conscience. I don't have any particular agenda."
"I think we need to finish the comprehensive plan and then follow it without having constant exceptions and special interests," he said. "I think that's one of the things I heard most often during the campaign, that there's no consistency."
Bujan said he wants to see the city continue to address its drainage problem and continue plans to improve the city harbor and to develop the Charlie's Pasture Nature Preserve. He said he's interested in preserving the city's history.
"I believe we can do that and develop at the same time," he said.
"For whatever reason, there seems to be a vast gulf of distrust between some of our citizens and city government, and I'd like to see that trust restored," Bujan said.
He said he invites citizens to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 749-4273 to discuss their concerns.
"I need to know what (citizens) think we should be doing," he said.