Election winners: Cochrane and Clarkson

As the warm and sunny election day turned into election evening, a large group of supporters huddled around the nearest laptop waiting for the early results to post to the Kerr County Elections website. Seven o’clock came and went, but results were not immediately forthcoming. (Traditionally the county releases the results of early voting immediately after the polls close on election day.) Then, as an uncharacteristically emotional outburst from Cochrane echoed through the room, the outcome was evident without even seeing the numbers. Candidates Gary Cochrane and Kim Clarkson each received a pair of telephone calls from the City Secretary’s office — the first offering relief (with early voting numbers) and the second offering confirmation (final tallies). Gary Cochrane and Kim Clarkson had won the election.

Unofficial results for 2019 City Council Elections.

671 votes were cast on election day, bringing the total turnout in this election to 3,021 — the first time an “odd-year” election has broken 3,000. With approximately 15,400 registered voters in the City of Kerrville, this means that about 20% of the registered voters cast a ballot this time around. This is a significant increase over the same election two years ago. In 2017, only 2,153 votes were cast, yielding a turnout of just 14.4%.

This year’s total of 3,021 earns the distinction of being the third largest turnout in Kerrville election history, behind 2018 and 2016, respectively. This year earns the honor of the highest-ever odd-year election total.

This year’s 671 ballots on election day represented only about 22% of the overall vote. The election day impact has shrunk significantly since 2017, with a higher percentage of the voters casting an early ballot.

Daily vote totals for 2019 election compared to 2018 and 2017.

Cochrane and Clarkson held a comfortable lead in the early results that included seven days of in-person early voting plus mail-in ballots. When the early numbers arrived, Clarkson held a 63-37% advantage while Cochrane led with a 64-36% margin. But Baroody and Garcia did narrow the margin some on election day. Saturday voters went 52% for Cochrane and Clarkson, with 48% going to Baroody and Garcia, narrowing that early lead by a few points.

Notably in this election, the two pairs of candidates ran their campaigns in alignment, and the results suggest that voters understood these relationships and voted accordingly. Just a 1% difference separated the winning margins in the two races — Cochrane with 61% and Clarkson with 60% after all votes were counted.

Reactions

After the final results were posted, Mario Garcia made his way to Kim Clarkson’s election night headquarters and offered his congratulations. However, as of Sunday morning, Gary Cochrane has not received any communications from George Baroody.

Baroody did offer something of a compliment to Cochrane as he told the Hill Country Community Journal,

“Gary Cochrane came to me after the polls closed and shook hands with me. And I agree it was a good race. It was nice to have it be a clean thing. The issues were the issues and I still believe a big portion of the community was not heard,” Baroody said. “I would like to keep the issues at the forefront, and continue to advocate for the people. I was proud to serve for two years, and will continue to serve my community, however that may be.”

Clarkson, Cochrane winners in city election. Hill Country Community Journal. May 4, 2019.

Garcia’s first foray into the political arena did not succeed as he’d hoped, but he remained positive, telling the Hill Country Community Journal,

“I felt we ran a good clean campaign. I was there until the polls closed. Right now I just feel really numb. But I went to congratulate Kim Clarkson at her party tonight and told her to work hard,” Garcia said. “She said to stay close and to bring any issues to her. I enjoyed the campaign and my goal was to bring a higher voter turnout and run my campaign with humility and civility – the good old decent way, sort of the Andy Griffith way.”

Clarkson, Cochrane winners in city election. Hill Country Community Journal. May 4, 2019.

What’s Next

Kim Clarkson and Gary Cochrane celebrate their victories on election night 2019.

The results will be canvassed and the newest council members will be sworn in at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, May 14, just ahead of a 6:00 PM regular city council meeting where they will immediately begin their duties on the dais.

In the mean time, current council members Vincent Voelkel and George Baroody will continue to serve in Place 1 and Place 2, respectively.

Takeaways

  • Kim Clarkson and Gary Cochrane win seats on council with about 60% of the vote
  • Turnout is up 40% from the same election 2017
  • Turnout lags behind 2018 by approximately 1,000 votes
  • Election day’s impact is shrinking as more voters turn out for early voting
  • Overall voter turnout was 20% of registered voters

References

Complete Election Results from Kerr County

Hill Country Community Journal article