Ranging from county judge to justice of the peace, Ector County Republican voters were faced with four local contested races this election and will now face a runoff election in May.
Of the four races, none of the candidates running for Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 garnered more than 50 percent – a predictable result given the number of people vying for the seat. Missi Walden, a court coordinator for Ector County, received 32 percent of the vote; Matthew Stringer, a local conservative activist and jeweler, received 23 percent. Both will continue campaigning for the seat until the runoff election day in May.
Arguably one of the most high-profile races on the local ballot was the race for Ector County Judge. Chris Fostel and Debi Hays sought the position after the current county judge Ron Eckert announced he would not run for reelection. Hays, a businesswoman and former president of Ector County Republican Women, won the election with 61 percent of the vote. With Eckert leaving open the possibility of resigning before the end of his term, Hays may be stepping into her new role sooner rather than later.
County Commissioner Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 were also contested races on the Republican Primary ballot. For Precinct 2, which makes up northwest Ector County, incumbent Greg Simmons beat out Brandon Tate with 58 percent of the vote.
For Precinct 4, Russell Wright received 64 percent of the vote against Arlo Chavira. He will now face Democrat Armando Rodriguez in November. Rodriguez has represented Precinct 4, which encompasses the southern portion of Ector County, for 12 years.
At the end of the day, the voter turnout in Ector County left more to be desired. Of the county’s 74,623 registered voters, only 11 percent participated in this election – a one percent drop from the last mid-term election in 2014. This year’s low voter participation reveals another campaign that must take place in the Permian Basin: citizen engagement.
Runoff Election Day is May 22.