1 Victoria council race goes to runoff; newcomer, incumbent win seats

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

May 11, 2013 at 12:11 a.m.
Updated May 12, 2013 at 12:12 a.m.

The face of Victoria City Council will change with the election of one newcomer voted into District 3.

A second newcomer could join the council, depending on the outcome of the Super District 5 runoff.

Jeff Bauknight, 43, will take the oath of office at a special Tuesday City Council meeting along with Tom Halepaska, 63, who won a fourth term.

"I'm at a loss for words tonight," Bauknight said. "I'm overwhelmed by the support I got, and I was honored to have the votes for the race."

District 3 covers the northern quadrant of Victoria. Paul Polasek previously served that district until he left his post to join the mayoral race.

Bauknight ran against Parks Commissioner Vic Caldwell, 50, and John Hyak, 53, who ran against Polasek in the May 2012 election.

Bauknight has served the city as chairman of the planning commission and owns his own business. His campaign promised a fresh perspective and business experience.

He said he is looking forward to working with the other council members.

"I know we're not going to agree on everything, but as long as we can honestly and openly talk about our positions, that's what I'd like to accomplish," he said.

He wished the four candidates who will enter a runoff the best of luck.

Super District 5 will be settled in a runoff election between incumbent Joe Truman and political newcomer Andrew Young.

The City Council will vote on the date of the runoff when it meets Tuesday.

"I am so proud of Victoria for turning out and supporting me and all of us," Truman said. "We had such great people running in the race. I need my supporters more than ever. Spread the word that honest representation does matter in Victoria."

Young said considering his position as a newcomer, the vote totals, with him in the lead, are a positive sign.

"It feels good. It'll feel better when it's all over," he said.

He thanked all the voters who participated.

"This is important for Victoria," he said. "I think the vote totals show Victoria wants a new perspective and a new voice, and I'm ready to listen."

Former councilman Gabriel Soliz also ran in this race. He is entitled to a recount in the election.

In complete, but unofficial votes, six votes separated Soliz and Truman.

League of Women Voters Victoria President Kathy Hunt said the District 5 race proves how much every vote counts.

"That just reinforces the importance of getting out to vote," she said. "Especially since the voting day was fairly light compared to early voting."

She said the league typically hosts a voter education event for the runoff election, but nothing has been set yet.

"We might contemplate having another forum between the runoff candidates," she said. "It depends on timing and the availability of facilities."

Halepaska, 69, will begin a fourth term representing the northern half of Victoria in Super District 6.

Halepaska ran against Russell Pruitt.

"I'm glad it's over. It's kind of like a trip to a dentist; it may be necessary but not necessarily fun," Halepaska said.

He said he wants to continue building the future of Victoria.

After running his campaign based upon being a common-sense fiscal conservative, Halepaska said he wants to continue working down the city's capital improvement list, including repairing downtown infrastructure and paving the way for the expansion of Mallette Drive.



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