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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, November 7, 2008

Local results in presidential race match Obama’s national margin

Reeves County voters mirrored the national trend in their support for Barack Obama in Tuesday’s presidential election, and also matched the results in the county’s Congressional and state House districts, which both sent their Democratic incumbents back for new two-year terms. But the county was at odds with the statewide results in other races, as well as for Texas’ overall presidential results, as Democrats picked up the majority of the votes locally while John McCain and incumbent Texas Republicans came out on top in the overall state vote count.

Obama, who won 343 electoral votes to McCain’s 189 in becoming the nation’s first African-American president, won with 52 percent of the vote to 46 for McCain, in the second-largest voter turnout ever, behind 2004’s presidential election. That’s almost the exact same margin voters in Reeves County gave Obama, as he picked up 52.6 percent of the local vote, with 1,605 to 1,444 for McCain.

A total of 3,085 people voted in the presidential race in Reeves County, with 21 ballots going to Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr and 13 others writing in candidates. The presidential election in the county drew about 100 more votes than any of the other down-ballot races.

The two highest vote-getters in any of the contested races were incumbents Pete Gallego and Ciro Rodriguez. Gallego easily won re-election district wide for his 74th District seat in the Texas Legislature, and in Reeves County picked up 2,108 votes to 800 for his Republican challenger, Thomas Kincaid, Jr. Overall in the district, Gallego won with 26,205 votes to 14,621 for Kincaid. Rodriguez, who defeated Republican Henry Bonilla in a special election in 2006 after representing the South Texas area in Congress from 1998 through 2004, received 2,033 votes in Reeves County to 824 for his Republican challenger, San Antonio city councilman Lyle Larson, and 65 for Libertarian Party candidate Lani Connolly. Rodriguez’s win district-wide was smaller than in the county, but he still had a comfortable margin, with 133,900 votes to 100,648 for Larson and 5,564 for Connolly.

Incumbents also won most of the other elections, but statewide results put Republicans back into office, while Reeves County went for their Democratic challengers.

Houston-area state representative Rick Noriega picked up 891 votes to 707 for incumbent John Cornyn, while Texas voters gave the first term Republican another six-year term by just over a 500,000 vote margin.

Also earning a new six-year term was Texas Railroad Commission chairman Michael Williams. He defeated Democratic challenger Mark Thompson by just over 300,000 votes statewide, but in Reeves County Thompson was the winner, with 868 votes to 592 for Williams. In the race for Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice, Wallace B. Jefferson won re-reelection by about 400,000 votes over his Democratic challenger Jim Jordan, while voters in the county favored Jordan by an 874-to-585 vote margin.

Also winning locally but losing statewide were Sam Houston, who beat Dale Wainwright by a 905-538 margin in Reeves County but lost the race for Place 7 on the Supreme Court; Linda Reyna Yanez, who lost in the race for Place 8 on the Court statewide to Phil Johnson by won in the county by a 945-558 margin, and on the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, where Place 3 and 4 incumbents Tom Price and Paul Womack were re-elected, while Reeves County voters locally favored their Democratic challengers, Susan Strawn and J.R. Molina.

Aside from the three bond propostions on Tuesday’s ballot, all other local races were uncontested, with the county’s Democratic Party nominees winning new terms. Those included sheriff Arnulfo Gomez; county attorney Alva Alvarez; county tax assessor-collector Rosemary Chabarria; county surveyor Tony Trujillo; Precinct 1 county commissioner Roy Alvarado; Precinct 3 county commissioner Saul Herrera; Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace (unexpired term) Grace Renteria; Constable, Precinct 1 Arutro Granado; Constable, Precinct 2 Jerry Matta; Constable, Precinct 3 Tomas Martinez, and Constable, Precinct 4 John Cole Armstrong.

In addition, 143rd District Court Judge Bob Parks and 143rd District Attorney Randy Reynolds also are unopposed in their re-election bids in the three-county district that also includes Ward and Loving counties.

Work already begun on golf course expansion

Reeves County Golf Course manager Peter Mora said Wednesday preliminary work was already underway on plans for the course’s expansion and remodeling, even before voters on Tuesday approved funding the main part of the job by passing the $12 million Proposition 1 bond issue. But the bulk of the job is unlikely to get underway until next year, after bond are sold to finance that work and several other projects included in the proposition.

Renovation and expansion of ball fields at Maxey Park and a new north side splash park are among the items included in the $12 million proposal, which passed by 105 votes in Tuesday’s election. But the largest will be the golf course, where county commissioners sold three of its 14 holes off late last year for development along Interstate 20.

Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City worked out an agreement earlier this year for the county to acquire 111 acres south of the current course, of which 77 would be used to build most of the seven new holes needed to make the golf course a full 18-hole layout. Mora said any work related to the bond issue would have to wait for discussions between county judge Sam Contreras, commissioners and Barry Friedman, the county’s bond adviser.

“He’s talking to Barry, but we wouldn’t start anything until the beginning of January,” Mora said. The county already has secured a $500,000 grant from the state for work on the course, which requires a $500,000 match from the county. Those funds are going towards the initial part of the project, which includes construction of the new greens and fairways and a system of water holes through the course from the new water well site along Country Club Drive.

“We already started some groundswork, cleaning dirt and moving debris,” Mora said. “We’re using these two months to pre-plan, and get going at the beginning of the year.”

“The first thing we’re going to do will be the new holes,” he said, adding that most of the early work is being done in-house. “We’ve already started laying out the groundwork for three of the holes, and we’re looking at planning for the other four holes, and maybe relocating the clubhouse.” “The problem now is the parking. We just don’t have the property,” Mora said of the current building and parking area. “We could redesign, but then we’d be biting into the existing course at tee box No. 1 and the No. 2 green. The other reason is we don’t have the easiest access with Town & Country (food store), the (Country Club) apartments and the Country Club. It’s too congested.” If the clubhouse is moved, the course would be reoriented towards the west, with the new clubhouse and a larger parking area to be built across from the current intersection of Easterbrook Drive and Tolliver Street, between the current clubhouse and Pecos Municipal Airport. The pro shop area of the current clubhouse would be converted into a maintenance facility and the dressing room areas would be maintained for use by the Pecos Eagle boys and girls golf teams.

“That’s a possibility we’re examining, given the permission of the commissioner’s court and the high school,” Mora said. “It’s kind of what Andrews and Fort Stockton and some of those other schools have, with their own dressing rooms away from the main clubhouse.”

He said they weren’t sure if the new water holes, which would be filled west-to-east from the well site behind the current driving range, would have liners put in or would use clay to keep the water from seeping into the ground. But he said, “We’ll be able to irrigate the course out of the ponds, and then maybe use the ponds for the (Maxey) Park and the sports complex, if the county and city and work out an agreement.”

County voters approve two of three propositions

Reeves County voters approved 97 percent of the funding sought by county officials for a series of major construction and renovation projects, passing two of the three propositions on Tuesday’s election ballot.

Voters approved Proposition 1, which will provide $12.2 million for several recreational projects, along with improvements to the Balmorhea Community Center, and Proposition 2, a $4.4 million bond issue to construct a new Reeves County Library.

However, voters balked at the smallest of the three propositions, rejecting a measure to provide $500,000 for the improvement of the county’s 4-H and FFA youth agriculture facilities.

Tuesday voters carried Proposition 1 to victory. It trailed in the early voting by a 47-vote margin, but Election Day voters approved by a 643-501 margin, to give it an overall 1,384-1,279 victory. The 51-48 percent margin was the reverse of Proposition 3, which lost both in early voting and Election Day balloting, falling overall by a 1,343-1,277 margin.

Proposition 2 won big among both early voters and those casting ballots on Tuesday. The library proposal overall received 58 percent of the votes, with 1,555 for and 1,109 against.

“We have a meeting scheduled with the architect and we need to find out when the bonds will be issued,” said Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras about the two propositions that were approved. He said that the commissioners and other individuals who will be involved with the project would be meeting with the financial adviser Barry Friedman, in regards to the bonds.

“As for Proposition 3, which did not pass, we’ll need to discuss that during a commissioners court meeting and see if there is anything that we can do to pursue that project,” said Contreras.

Construction on the projects outlined will depend on what the architect and construction manager have to say, according to Contreras.

“We don’t know which projects will be started first, that’s something that we need to discuss with them,” said Contreras. “A good place to start would be with the library, but again, that’s something that we need to discuss with the architect.”

Contreras said he and commissioners need to find out if it will be easier to begin all projects at the same time, or start each one separately.

The group has chosen a centralized site for the new library, about seven blocks from the current facility at Fifth and Park streets.

“The site is the old Showtime building, located next to Family Dollar and close to both Odessa College and Pecos High School,” said Contreras. “We have been in discussion with the owner of the building and it’s going really well.”

When they first started discussions about the possibility of a new library, there were 10 sites that were discussed.

“After much discussion and input from several individuals, including the library staff, this is the preferred site,” he said.

Overall Proposition 2 had 885 voting for during early voting and 633 against; 670 for on Election Day and 476 against. Proposition 3 had 726 voting in favor during early voting and 551 against. On Election Day, 551 for the proposition and 568 against.

Republicans gain most support in Ward, Loving County results

Ward and Loving County voters returned their local Democratic incumbents to office on Tuesday, mostly in uncontested races, while voting Republican in the statewide and regional elections.

In Ward County, Republican John McCain picked up almost 75 percent of the county’s 3,608 votes for president, collecting 2,667 to 899 for Barack Obama. In Loving County, McCain picked up 67 votes to 12 for Obama, out of 85 people overall who cast ballots in the nation’s least populated county.

Obama did win among voters in Barstow, picking up 84 votes to 71 for McCain.

County voters only had Republican and Libertarian candidates to choose from in the race for U.S. Representative, where incumbent Republican Mike Conaway maintained his District 11 seat. In Loving County, Conaway picked up 58 votes to 11 for Libertarian John R. Strohm, while Ward County voters favored Conaway by a 2,693 to 426 margin. They also went for John Cornyn in the U.S. Senate race over Democratic hopeful Rick Noriega by a 2,466-912 margin, while in Loving County, Cornyn won by a 55-16 margin.

Barstow voters also went for Conaway, 73-19 over Strohm, while favoring Noriega over Cornyn, 86 to 64.

In the Texas House race, Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego won re-election but lost in Ward and Loving counties. Gallego had 1,602 votes to 1,830 for Republican Thomas R. Kincaid, Jr., in Ward County, and lost to Kincaid by a 45-23 vote margin in Loving County.

Barstow voters supported Gallego over Kincaid by a 92-51 margin.

In the local races, winners in Ward County who ran uncontested included Sheriff Mike Strickland, County Attorney Hal Upchurch, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Julian Florez and Precinct 3 Commissioner Dexter Nichols, and constables for Precinct 1 and 4 Bill Clayton and Precincts 2 and 3, James P. Hammond.

In Loving County, Precinct 1 and 4 commissioners Harlan Hopper and Bill Wilkinson won over write-in challengers. Hopper won by a 19-6 margin over write-in Charles Derrick, while Wilkinson won with 13 votes to eight for write-in Raymond Wildman.

Winning as a write-in, with no other candidate on the ballot, was James Clark, who received 36 votes for Loving County Constable. Winning unopposed were Billy Hopper for sheriff and tax assessor/collector and Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Jones.

Also re-elected were Bob Parks and Randy Reynolds as 143rd District Judge and 143rd District Attorney, which includes Ward, Loving and Reeves counties.

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