Voters in Windcrest overwhelmingly decided May 5 to repeal a controversial firefighting service agreement, while Universal City voters re-elected three incumbents and chose a political newcomer to join City Council.
The Windcrest referendum was the latest battle in city that has seen its share of political infighting the last few years.
Voters were asked whether to repeal an agreement the City Council approved last fall between the municipality and the new Bugle Crew group, which had replaced the decades-old Windcrest Volunteer Fire Association as the city’s volunteer fire department.
Seventy-three percent of those casting ballots backed the repeal. Elizabeth Dick, Sherillyn Flick and Hobson Cunningham rounded up signatures from more than 480 registered voters in time this winter to get the referendum on the May ballot.
The petitioners argued that city government had been less than forthcoming about how and why it came to a decision to sever ties with the former volunteer department.
Critics of the new seven-year fire service agreement also complained the pact, with council approval, would let the new VFD group charge residents and property owners a fee for fire protection and EMS service.
Residents defending the new agreement and firefighting service said the Bugle Crew would bring a greater degree of financial transparency and accountability — qualities that councilmen Gerd Jacobi, James McFall and Jim Shelton have said were lacking with the old VFD group.
Dick said the vote shows Windcrest residents will not permit “back-door agreements to go unquestioned.”
“Our strategy was to run a positive, honest and clean campaign with facts the voters would understand,” she said.
The same trio of petitioners gathered signatures to propose an election to recall Jacobi, McFall and Shelton. Because of council procedural delays before the state’s May election deadline, the recall petition went to court.
An appeals court denied ordering the city to proceed with a recall election. Jacobi, McFall and Shelton’s seats are on this November’s ballot
Mayor Dan Reese, addressing a March 19 council meeting, told Fire Chief Jonathan Weidemann he was troubled that no volunteer firefighters were available to answer an emergency call earlier that month.
Detractors of the Bugle Crew have criticized the new VFD regime for dismissing several longtime volunteers.
Meanwhile, in Universal City, Mayor John Williams received 70 percent of the vote, outpolling challengers Joshua Holt and Adam Salyer, the latter a former councilman.
Winning a sixth term, Williams said he’s honored and humbled that many voters have expressed continued confidence in his leadership.
“We’ve come a long way in the last 10 to 12 years, especially with the city being landlocked,” Williams said. “But we’ve really prospered. There’s a lot more to accomplish.”
Incumbent council members Tom Maxwell and Beverly Volle, and Paul Najarian, a planning and zoning commissioner, won three at-large council seats. Realtor David Wisotzki finished fourth.
Volle sought re-election because she wanted to keep contributing to the council and encourage more residents to become involved in city government.
“My goals for the next term are to try and get more citizens educated, informed and involved, particularly women,” she added.
Maxwell said his re-election reflected residents’ satisfaction with city management.
“We have a positive energy within our city and it shows in the results of this year’s election,” he said. “Residents know we are moving in the right direction.”
ALAMO COLLEGES DISTRICT
Concerning the Alamo Colleges District elections, voters tapped District 9 trustee Joe Jesse Sanchez to finish the final two years of the late Jim Rindfuss’ term.
Sanchez, appointed last fall to the District 9 post, received 50.8 percent against Felix Grieder, a USAA process engineer and Air Force veteran.
The far North Side resident has sought to capitalize on his 45-year-plus career as an administrator and teacher at three local school districts and as an instructor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
This election cycle, he campaigned to enhance the relationship between district leaders and faculty, and put a focus on quality governance and budget expenditures.
Next up, some Randolph Metrocom voters will consider May 22 runoffs following March primary elections. Boerne businessman Matt McCall and Austin attorney Chip Roy are in the Republican runoff for Congressional District 21.
Businessman and Army veteran Joseph Kopser and teacher-turned minister Mary Street Wilson, both of Austin, are in the Democratic runoff. The runoff victors advance to the Nov. 6 general election to determine who succeeds longtime U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.
High-tech business owner Matt Beebe and Steve Allison, a former area school board trustee, are in the Republican runoff for House District 121, a race to succeed House Speaker Joe Straus.
The GOP runoff winner faces Democratic businesswoman Celina Montoya in November.
Cynthia Brehm and Jo Ann Ponce Gonzalez are in the Bexar County GOP chairwoman runoff.
Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Andrew White, a Houston entrepreneur, are in the Democratic gubernatorial runoff to see who challenges Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November.
Early voting for the runoffs is May 14-18.