AP NEWS

Tie in Dayton ISD trustee race leads to runoff set for June 18

May 13, 2019

She asked the question. There was complete silence. She asked the second question. Again, complete silence. Jessica Johnson probably knew the answer to both, but the Dayton ISD superintendent still had to ask both candidates for responses legally before moving on to what was inevitable—a runoff.

Both Chris Shumaker and Barry Pruitt earned 283 votes each during the election out of a field of four candidates. The improbable happened and now there were two questions needing an answer before Johnson could proceed.

Both candidates were asked if one wanted to withdraw. Then Johnson asked if they wanted to draw lots or flip a coin. Silence.

“I didn’t think so,” Johnson smiled.

“We’ve received our marching orders from the Secretary of State for the runoff,” she announced as she explained the details.

The school board president, Thomas Payne, is requesting an automatic recount. The deadline for the request is May 13 at 5 p.m. There was no action needed by the board on the request.

Payne has appointed a recount committee of four members including Jack Carraway, Greg Hanan, Sofie Etheridge, and Dorrie Lang.

“For the first time in history, at least that I can remember, we have a tie,” Johnson announced to the school board who had met to canvass the votes.

The committee will meet at the Liberty County Clerk’s office and watch the recount be done by their employees.

If there is a variation in the vote count, a winner would be named and take office following the canvassing of the vote on May 21. If the count remains the same, the two candidates will head for a runoff.

“It’s been fun. I have definitely learned a lot,” said Barry Pruitt. “I finally got a chance to meet Chris and he’s a great guy.”

Pruitt asked the community not to forget about him and come out and vote.

“It’s nice to be a part of being first time,” Shumaker said about the tie.

“I met Barry and whoever wins I think will do a great job,” he said.

Shumaker said he was ready to get back on the phone to reach out to his supporters and ask for their vote again in the runoff.

Johnson was optimistic about the race.

“We have two great candidates and we can’t go wrong either way,” she said.

Johnson was in a jam for the board meeting. With three trustees out of town and out of state, she had to wait a few minutes for the remaining four to comprise a quorum.

The runoff is required between the 20th day and the 45th day following the canvassing of the vote on Thursday, May 9.

“We’ve tentatively set up the recount for next week,” Johnson said.

County Clerk Lee Chambers said she didn’t remember any provisional or over or under votes in the election and didn’t expect the result to change.

Larry Wadzeck, who’s position on the board is contested, must still serve until his replacement is sworn in at the June 18 board meeting.

Early voting days are June 6-7, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the following week, June 10-12 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Thursday and Friday, June 13-14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The election date is set for Tuesday, June 18.

Larry Wadzeck, who’s position on the board is contested, must still serve until his replacement is sworn in at the June 18 board meeting.

Dr. Luke Cachere, who ran unopposed in his race, received 557 votes and was welcomed back to the board.

dtaylor@hcnonline.com