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Updates given on unsettled Brazos County races
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Updates given on unsettled Brazos County races

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A handful of electoral races within Brazos County have yet to be decided, with some ballots still on their way to the Brazos County Elections Office and one runoff election likely to take place in College Station in mid-December.

A mere six votes separate incumbent Bob Brick and challenger Jason Cornelius for the Place 1 College Station City Council seat, with some absentee and military ballots still outstanding. Brazos County Elections Administrator Trudy Hancock explained Wednesday afternoon that recounts are only automatic if candidates are truly tied. Otherwise, a candidate must request, and pay for, a manual or electronic recount of votes.

Hancock said that the deadline for military and overseas ballots is Monday, with processing Tuesday. Brick currently leads with 15,369 votes to 15,363 votes cast for Cornelius.

“We’ll tally those votes Tuesday evening, and then we’ll have our final count,” Hancock said, and added that she couldn’t recall a race in Brazos County with a margin as close as six votes this late in the process.

College Station City Secretary Tanya Smith told media outlets Wednesday that during its Nov. 12 regular meeting, the College Station City Council will consider adopting an ordinance calling for a runoff election to occur on Dec. 15 to fill the council’s Place 5 seat. Incumbent council member John Nichols and challenger Craig Regan received the highest number of votes cast for this position, but neither received a majority as required by law.

Should the College Station council adopt the proposed runoff date, early voting would run weekdays from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11.

As of Tuesday night’s unofficial results, 17,018 voters (50.42%) cast ballots in favor of the Bryan school district’s $175 million bond package. Bryan Superintendent Christie Whitbeck called it a “no fluff” bond with safety and security, maintenance and construction — primarily of a third intermediate school and a rebuilt transportation and maintenance facility — among the major items addressed.

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It was a closer result than the district expected, Whitbeck said, citing the timing and state-required language on the ballot as two of the main reasons for the slim margin. The bond originally was slated to be on a May ballot before the pandemic pushed it back, she said, and the state requires ballots include information that the bond would be a tax increase even though the bond will not change the district’s tax rate.

She suspects the verbiage affected school districts across the state, saying of the 70 bond elections statewide, 57% passed and the margins were smaller than usual on those 40 bonds that were approved.

Until all the votes are collected, Whitbeck said, she and other district staff are “cautiously optimistic” the line will remain where it is and the bond will pass. If the mail-in, provisional and military ballots flip the results, the school board could call for the bond to appear on a May ballot next year.

“The needs will not go away,” she said. “I believe, personally, as a taxpayer, even though I’m an empty nester now, I believe that it is our moral imperative to take care of the children that come up the ranks, whether we have them in our home right now or not. It’s part of what makes our community strong is to have strong public schools and to support them for the next generation. I have faith in the Bryan community, and I’m going to remain optimistic, and I will remain proud to serve and to continue to bring forward what I know is in the best interest of our children.”

Another close Bryan race was the contest for Bryan school board’s Place 6 at-large seat between Deidra Davis and incumbent David Stasny. As of Tuesday night’s unofficial results, Davis held a 284-vote lead with 50.49% of the vote. Stasny, who was first elected to the school board in 1990, received 14,235 votes compared to Davis’ 14,519.

Hancock said that 85,407 Brazos County residents cast ballots out of about 122,000 registered voters.

“We saw record, historic turnout,” Hancock said, including more than 64,000 early voters and approximately 13,000 Election Day voters. “I would just hope that we keep that trend going forward. Our election process is so important and it makes it all worthwhile when you see a huge turnout.”

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Voters approved the school district’s $175 million bond package by 282 votes with a total of 17,018 to 16,736 — or 50.4% to 49.6%. Mail-in and military ballots still have to be counted.

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