Republicans vie for top Calhoun County office

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Dec. 4, 2017 at 10 p.m.

   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Three Republicans are vying to replace Calhoun County Judge Michael J. Pfeifer, who has not yet filed for re-election.

Pfeifer, a Democrat, has served for 15 years, and so far, his party hasn't offered up a challenger to the Republicans.

The Republicans interested in the job are Richard Meyer, 67, of Six Mile, who currently runs a brush clearing operation; Larry Nichols, 62, who served as the Calhoun County ISD superintendent from 2000 to 2010 and recently returned to Port Lavaca from Galveston; and 28-year-old Wesley McKelvy, of Point Comfort.

"I want to bring our first responders up into the 21st century with better equipment to help the community," said McKelvy, who has been a patrol deputy with the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office for six years.

The race for commissioner of Precinct 4, which covers Seadrift and Point Comfort, will also be competitive during the Republican Party's primary in March.

So far, Russell Cady, whose age was not available; Gary Reese, 65; Thomas Salazar III, 46; and Will Wooldridge, 51, have filed.

Reese has worked in the road and construction business for 45 years, Salazar is a senior certified technician for the Coca-Cola Company and Wooldridge is a project manager for the Dow Chemical Company. They all say they have hearts for community service.

Cady could not be reached for comment.

The Republicans also have put up someone to run for constable of Precinct 5, David Thomas, and someone to run for Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Raymond Perez. The Advocate could not reach either.

Hope Kurtz, a Democrat who has served as the justice of the peace for Precinct 1 since 2007, meanwhile, will face someone in her party's primary, too: Lee Rivera. Rivera could not be reached for comment.

Kurtz, 50, handles all the truancy cases in Calhoun County and prides herself on how few students come back to her courtroom because she focuses on resolving whatever is preventing them from attending school.

"My passion is our youth, and they are worth more than a fine," she said.

Kurtz isn't the only incumbent running for re-election.

For the Democrats, Tamya Dimak, Justice of the Peace Precinct 3; Vern Lyssy, commissioner of Precinct 2; Dan Heard, district attorney; and Calvin Anderle, Justice of the Peace Precinct 2, all seek re-election.

For the Republicans, Russell Cain, party chairman; Anna Goodman, county clerk; Wesley Hunt, Justice of the Peace Precinct 4; Nancy Pomykal, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5; and Anna Kabela, district clerk, seek re-election.

Pomykal is seeking her eighth term, while Kabela is seeking her first. Kabela was most recently elected to fill her predecessor's unexpired term.

Last week, Kabela was learning about a new filing system, which will increase the public's access to information.

"My goal for the office is to become paperless," she said.

The filing deadline for the March primary is Dec. 11, so more candidates might emerge.

Cain said President Donald Trump has re-energized Calhoun County, which has long been colored blue.

Sandra Witte, who succeeded longtime Democratic Party Chair Evelyn Burleson, said Democrats, too, are organized and enthusiastic about the upcoming race.

"I believe the Calhoun County Democrat Party is doing really well. We have a very active club that meets once a month," Witte wrote via email. "Unfortunately, after being a blue county for so long, there is always concern about your county turning red, but we are working hard to support the candidates we have running."

Last year, Trump earned almost 67 percent of the vote in Calhoun County, while Hillary Clinton earned 30 percent.

This was comparable to the 2012 presidential election, when Mitt Romney earned 62 percent of the vote to former President Barack Obama's 36 percent, but the races among local candidates were more competitive, and in most cases, Democratic candidates prevailed.


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