Burton, Beard win in Tuesday’s runoff election
GROVETON – After nearly winning the nomination outright on March 2, former Pct. 2 Commissioner Bill Burton remained on track to return to the office as a result of Tuesday’s victory in the Democratic Party runoff election. Burton defeated incumbent Pct. 2 Commissioner Jannette Hortman by a vote margin of 447 (64.4%) to 247. In the only other local runoff race, incumbent Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Bernie Beard held off the challenge by Trinity City Judge Howard Kinsel in the party’s runoff vote. By winning the party nomination on Tuesday, Burton and Beard will advance to the Nov. 2 general election. In that election, Burton will face Republican nominee Richard E. “Rich” Chamberlin for the commissioner’s job. Chamberlin was unopposed in the GOP’s March 2 primary election. Hortman was seeking her second four-year term as commissioner after defeating Burton in the 1996 Democratic primary. During the March 2 primary this year, Burton narrowly missed winning the party nomination outright, but a vote recount left him with only 49.9 percent of the total. By law, candidates must receive at least one vote more than 50 percent of the total in order to win. The original machine count conducted by the Trinity County Clerk’s Office gave Burton exactly that winning margin with a total of 442 of the 882 votes cast in the race. However, Hortman, who finished in second place with 246 votes (27.9%), asked for a recount. When the votes were recounted by hand on March 16, Burton lost two votes from his original tally and Hortman picked up two, which forced a runoff in that race. Ed Tindall, the third contender in the race, finished with 194 votes (22%) in both the March 2 and March 16 counts. In the JP race, Beard won the runoff with a vote count of 445 (67.3%) compared to Kinsel’s 216 votes. On March 2, Beard finished on top with 336 votes (43.1%) while Kinsel garnered 258 votes (33.1%). The third candidate in the race, Ray Boatman, ended with 186 votes (23.8%). Beard was appointed to the JP post last year following the death of former JP Robert Stubblefield. Because there are no Republican candidates for the post, Beard is expected to be unopposed in the Nov. 2 general election. During the early voting period held April 5-9, a total of 538 people cast ballots, including 121 by mail, 411 in Trinity, four in Apple Springs and two in Groveton. Precinct 2, which included all of the local runoff races, is located in and around Trinity and accounted for the heavy turnout in that area. Some of the mail, Trinity, Apple Springs and Groveton ballots also were in the Republican Party runoff, which featured only the statewide Place 3 justice seat on the Texas Supreme Court. In that race, Rick Green received 20 Trinity County votes compared to Debra Lehrman with 15. The winner of that runoff will face Jim Sharp in the Nov. 2 general election. Sharp was unopposed in the March 2 Democratic Party primary.