The Hays County Elections Office hasn’t been a very busy place during early voting in a San Marcos City Council run-off election. Tuesday is Election Day. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
While early indications favor San Marcos Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commissioner Ryan Thomason to win a city council seat, only Tuesday’s results in a low-turnout run-off election will tell if academic advisor Lisa Marie Coppoletta can cover a 456-vote deficit from the Nov. 3 balloting.
Early voting turnout for the run-off indicates that the total vote could come to fewer than 1,000 people for a critical city council seat in a city of 50,000 residents. Only 436 votes were cast in the early voting, 409 by personal appearance and 27 by absentee mail-in ballot.
“I just don’t think we’re going to have a large turnout at all,” said Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan. “They (the candidates) have to get the voters out to the polls. I just don’t think we’re going to get 2,000 voters again (like in the November election).”
Thomason received the most votes, by far, in the Nov. 3 election to fill San Marcos City Council Place 5, which is being vacated by Pam Couch. Of 1,924 ballots cast in November, Thomason took 960, three short of majority needed to claim victory. Coppoletta won a place in the run-off election by finishing second with 504 votes, while small business owner Shaune Maycock was eliminated after receiving 460 votes.
Only 2,049 voters, 7.09 percent of the registered voters in San Marcos, turned out for the November election. Of those voters, 809 voted early. Cowan said odd year November elections, which include only state constitutional amendments in many locations, tend to yield low turnouts.
Of the 436 votes cast so far in the city council run-off election, an overwhelming majority came from precincts that heavily supported Thomason in the November election. Precinct 336 (95 early votes) was by far the leader in early voting, followed by Precincts 332 (76), 315 (58), 330 (56), 113 (51), 116 (35) and 334 (27). In November, Thomason won all those precincts handily, except for 334, which he still won.
Coppoletta won two light turnout boxes, Precincts 112 and 114, in November, while Maycock won another light box, Precinct 111. In early voting, only 15 ballots came from Precinct 112, another 15 came from Precinct 114 and Precinct 111 produced 22 early votes. Precinct 120, which went decisively to Thomason in November, produced 17 early votes. Feather light Precinct 446 (32 total votes in November) produced seven early votes, and even lighter Precinct 447 produced none.
Thomason also dominated the fundraising between Nov. 3 and the run-off, claiming $2,900 in contributions and $1,512.56 in expenditures on campaign finance reports between Nov. 4 and Dec. 14. Thomason said he has $3,030.27 left in his campaign war chest.
The largest contribution for Thomason entering the run-off came from developers W.C. Carson, Chris Carson and Reagan Lehman, who each kicked in one-third of a $1,500 contribution. Terry Gilmore, who spent nearly $15,000 on Mayor Susan Narvaiz’ 2008 re-election campaign, contributed $500 to Thomason. Richard Skiles contributed $400 and Anna Mae and Donald Harrelson contributed $300. Gilmore tied James Kelly as the largest single contributor in this set of city council elections, each giving $2,000 in reported contributions for various candidates.
In total, Thomason has raised $9,725 for the race, spending $6,694.83. Coppoletta’s totals from the start of her campaign until now are $1,770.50 in contributions and $2,969.62 in expenditures. On her report for Oct. 26 through Dec. 5, Coppoletta claimed one $50 contribution and $119.33 in expenditures.
Cowan said she’s expecting the run-off election vote to total around 1,000, going as far as predicting an approximate 500 votes cast on Election Day, though she said her office is “prepared to handle every one and plus.”
Early voting for the run-off election took place during 10 days beginning on Nov. 30 and ending on Dec. 11. Thursday, Dec. 3, yielded the highest voter turnout by personal appearance, totaling 94 votes with 43 taking place at the Elections Office and 51 at the Texas State campus, the lone day voting was offered at the university. The last day of early voting brought out 92 voters, while the other eight days yielded results ranging from 13 to 33 cast ballots in any one day.
The following are polling places for specific precincts on Election Day, Tuesday Dec. 15:
– Precinct 110 and Precinct 113 will vote at the Elections Administrator’s Office, 401-C Broadway.
– Precinct 111 will vote at the Dunbar Center, 801 MLK Drive.
– Precinct 112 will vote at Guadalupe Hall, 212 Roosevelt Street.
– Precinct 114 will vote at the Allen Woods Homes Auditorium, 1201 Thorpe Lane.
– Precinct 116 will vote at Hernandez Elementary School, 333 Stagecoach Trail.
– Precinct 120 will vote at the San Marcos Housing Authority Residents Office, 820 Sturgeon.
– Precinct 315 will vote at Doris Miller Middle School, 301 Foxtail Run.
– Precinct 330 will vote at the Lamar Central Office Annex, 500 West Hutchison Street.
– Precinct 336 will vote at Horizon Bay (formerly Merrill Gardens) Auxiliary Room, 1720 Ranch Road 12.
– Precinct 332 and Precinct 334 will vote at the Old Fish Hatchery Building, 201 North C.M. Allen Parkway.
– Precinct 127, Precinct 446, and Precinct 447 will vote at Travis Elementary School, 1437 Old Post Road.