Republicans make history in Lavaca and DeWitt counties
Nov. 3, 2010 at 6:03 a.m.
Updated Nov. 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.
It may not have been a revolution, but it was a history-making election Tuesday as Republicans won county judge seats for the first time in Lavaca County and DeWitt County.
In Lavaca County, the election not only marks the first time a Republican has been elected county judge, but three Republicans won countywide elections for the first time, said Kathleen Leininger, Lavaca County Republican vice chair in Precinct 15.
Republicans Tramer Woytek ousted eight-year incumbent county judge Ronnie Leck, a Democrat; Michael Andes was elected justice of the peace in Precinct 1, to replace Woytek, over Democrat John Evans and write-in Mark Ivey; and Ron Kolacny was uncontested for county surveyor.
"Politics in Lavaca County is from this day forward, changed forever," said Woytek, a former Lavaca County sheriff's deputy whose father Hilmer Woytek was a longtime Lavaca County Sheriff.
Myron Rehm, chairman of the Lavaca County Republican Party, agreed.
"It was a great night for the Republican Party of Lavaca County," Rehm said. "It is really gratifying to have the voters approve of the constitutional and conservative principals we so strongly believe in."
Woytek said he was honored to be the first Republican Lavaca County judge.
"I believe having a Republican in a leadership position is long overdue," he said. "I look forward to using conservative principals to serve the people of Lavaca County."
One Democrat won a contested race in Lavaca County. Incumbent Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Bobby Pavliska defeated Republican challenger Michael Ray Huser by 35 votes.
DEWITT DEMS DUMPED
In DeWitt County, two Republican challengers unseated long-time Democratic incumbents.
Daryl Fowler, the former chairman of the county Republican Party, ousted 24-year incumbent Ben Prause from the county judge's seat. James Pilchick Sr. unseated his former boss, 12-year incumbent Precinct 2 Commissioner Joe Machalec.
The county-judge elect says he and his Republican counterpart on the commissioners court must now do their jobs well.
"I believe he and I must deliver, individually and collectively, on what we set as goals as they pertain to our respective offices," Fowler said. "If we do not deliver, the citizens will feel deceived."
A third DeWitt County Republican, incumbent justice of the peace Peggy Mayer was easily re-elected over Democratic challenger Chester Hanzelka.
Katherine Reilly, DeWitt County Republican Party chair, said voters were ready for change.
"They are focusing on the future, and it was time for a changing of the guard," she said. "Daryl Fowler is also focused on the future. With the huge economic changes that could be taking place in the county with the oil and gas production, he wants to be proactive while also preserving our rural and agricultural independence."
Reilly said Republican gains on the county level were a trickle-down effect.
"I think what we saw on the national and state levels were citizens rebelling against the federal government overstepping its bounds into our private lives," said Reilly. "It was a huge reaction to two years of federal policy going against the will of the people."
Fowler hopes Republican gains on the local level and the state level will make a difference in getting their message across.
"As far as the Republican Party is concerned, I believe our election is indicative of the growing trend in Texas," he said. "In that respect, when it comes to issues like redistricting, I hope our concerns will be heard and we will be treated in a fair manner."
Although in Lavaca County, Leininger may have summed up the feelings of all local Republicans after the totals came in Tuesday night.
"Lavaca County conservatives are ecstatic to have broken through the good-old-boy, yellow-dog Democrat culture of this county," she said.