Category Archives: City Council

New Mayor and New Council Take Helm

On Tuesday morning, May 15, the new members took their oaths of office, and Kerrville officially has a new mayor and two new councilpersons.

Mayor Bill Blackburn and Place 4 Delayne Sigerman took their oaths today, while Place 3 Judy Eychner will be sworn in this Friday (she was out of town during the official ceremony). Council members in Place 1 and 2, Vincent Voelkel and George Baroody, were present at the meeting, but outgoing Mayor Bonnie White was absent.

The YouTube video of today’s meeting is available below. Be sure to watch the outgoing statements from Place 3 Mary Ellen Summerlin and Place 4 Warren Ferguson. We thank them for their service!

Congrats to the new members, and now it’s time to get to work!

Early voting has concluded… Here are the stats

Kerrville set a new record for city council elections this year in early voting. According to City Clerk Brenda Craig, 3.087 ballots were cast in this year’s early voting period. That’s up 16.5% over 2016 totals for early voting.

There were 2,585 ballots cast by personal appearance at the Cailloux Theater, and 502 ballots by mail, for a total of 3,087.

The previous record for a council race was the 2016 election, with 2,650 votes cast early. But this didn’t beat the biggest early voting total of all time, which was set in 2006, which was the “tax freeze” election, with 4,083 ballots cast early.

Here’s how the demographics break down for this year’s early voting totals:

  • 2,585 ballots cast by personal appearance
  • 502 ballots by mail
  • 3,087 total ballots cast so far
  • Average voter age: 66
  • 56% female, 44% male (of those that chose to reveal their gender on voter rolls)
  • Under 50 years of age: 15.7%
  • 50 years of age and over: 84.3%
  • 16.5% increase in early voter turnout since 2016

Mayor White accuses Evans family of lying

NOTE: This story is a follow-up to the posting we made yesterday on this website and on our Facebook page titled, “Report of harassment at voting location.”

In her first ever comment on a Kerrville United page, Mayor Bonnie White lobbed accusations and offered flat denials regarding the “Voter intimidation” story on our Facebook page. (Even though we’ve invited her to comment and appear on the page for nearly two years, this was the first time she ever made an appearance.)

Offering no sympathy and no apology, Mayor White immediately accused someone (?) of libel and slander, but the post was vague and veiled in threatening language. She also asserted that the entire affair is a political tactic. We asked for clarification but received no reply. Bonnie went on to say that Evans “grossly misinterpreted [the incident] to say the least.” But, then she seemed to accuse her running mate Gary Cooper of being involved in a similar situation involving a young voter and her children who voted for Blackburn.

However, Mr. Cooper, pictured (below right) bears little resemblance to the description that Evans offered in her original post: “wearing a cowboy hat, having a scruffy beard…” Yesterday, Mrs. Evans was presented with a photo of Robert White (below left) and she believes White is the person who harassed her.

Robert White, husband of Mayor Bonnie White (left), and Gary Cooper, candidate for City Council Place 3 (right)

Bonnie White stated that this entire matter was a political stunt to try and sway the outcome of the election. Immediately, numerous friends and supporters of Evans came to their defense, stating that Mrs. Evans is an honest and apolitical person who would never invent or embellish a story. Mr. Evans commented elsewhere stating, “We don’t have a side,” when he was accused of using this moment for political points.

See the full exchange below. This screenshot was taken at 7:00 AM on Wednesday, May 2.

Report of harassment at voting location

This morning on Facebook, one voter gave her testimonial about an encounter with a Bonnie White supporter outside of the polling place yesterday afternoon. In the post, Sara Evans, a Kerrville resident, explains that she took her two children with her to the Cailloux Theater, and the three of them went inside to vote. (Children are encouraged to fill out a sample ballot to learn about the democratic process.) Outside, she was approached by a White supporter that made her and her children feel threatened, and caused her children to cry, they were so upset. Read her story here:

Mayor White’s husband, Robert White, is known to sit in the parking lot of the polling place most days. He drives a white pickup truck, wears a hat, and has a salt and pepper beard. Mrs. Evans was shown a picture of Robert White, and she believes this was the person that harassed her.

Robert White, husband of Mayor Bonnie White

This report comes on the heels of another alleged encounter between Robert White and another female voter leaving the polls last week. Courtney Barton had this to say about her experience with Mr. White in the parking lot:

We await comment and/or a statement from the Whites about these reports. We are happy to update this post as we gather new information.

EDITED AT 5:00 PM CDT 05/01/2018:

Approximately one year ago, an article appeared in the Hill Country Community Journal outlining some other instances of troubling behavior on the part of Mr. White. Please see this article for a detailed explanation of other behavior perceived as threatening, intimidating, or bullying.

UPDATE AT 6:45 PM CDT 05/01/2018:

Mayor Bonnie White posted a comment on the Kerrville United Facebook page’s post about this incident. We await clarification on this accusation.

Infamous “swamp thing” photo degrades city election

Several weeks back, the Bill Blackburn campaign ran an ad in the newspaper that announced an endorsement by six former mayors of Kerrville. That ad is pictured below. This image also made the rounds on social media, and had a noticeable impact on conversations around the election.

Then, last week on social media, a different Facebook post went viral. The post was from a person who had just finished casting a ballot at the early voting center. Afterward, she was introduced to the Mayor’s husband, Robert White. Robert asked her if she’d like to see something funny, and showed her an image on the back of his campaign yard sign.

The image was a Photoshopped version of the Blackburn ad — the ad depicting six former mayors endorsing Bill. Instead of the six mayors, the photo featured “swamp creatures” shopped onto the heads of these six previous mayors of Kerrville.

This alleged behavior infuriated many voters and other members of the community. Many described this type of behavior as “juvenile” and wrong. Folks on both sides of the mayor competition expressed dismay that our politics have been taken into the gutter thanks to this type of behavior.

Here’s the Facebook post:

This post went viral, with scores of shares and reactions in 24 hours. Some of the folks who shared this post had their post deleted by Facebook, apparently because it was anonymously reported as offensive. This made them re-post it even more frequently.

Some commenters thought this might not be true. They asserted that there was no proof of this alleged photograph. As of this morning, we have proof. An anonymous source had this photo below sent to them by a White supporter.

Aside from the potential copyright infringement issues, the image is troubling for a number of reasons. For one, it suggests that Kerrville voters don’t have a say in the election, which couldn’t be further from the truth, as the polls are still open and turnout seems to be on the rise from last year.

Two, the ad suggests that every former mayor is somehow a member of the metaphorical “swamp.” If this is the case, does the swamp not also include Mayor White, since she has served on council for three years now? The truth is that there is no swamp in Kerrville. Your city council representatives are your neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens. They have day jobs and are not career politicians. They serve for effectively zero compensation, giving countless hours of their time to try to improve their community.

Co-opting the “swamp” metaphor from the national political scene does not serve our community or do anything to improve it. To the contrary, it leads to even more polarization, degrades the election process, and attempts to bring our local political system down into the mud.

You still have a chance to cast your vote in this citywide election! Early voting is open on Monday and Tuesday from 8 AM to 5 PM, and the polls are open on Saturday, May 5, from 7 AM to 7 PM. Make your voice heard!

What we know about the “rebate for votes” issue

On Thursday, April 19, the Kerrville Daily Times published a letter to the editor from Mayor Bonnie White with the heading, “Paying for votes?”

The mayor expressed her “astonishment” about a flyer that appeared in a housing community’s newsletter that offered a $20 rent rebate to “anyone bringing in a physical presentation of an ‘I Voted’ sticker.”

The mayor asked, “Is someone paying people to vote? Is this legal?”

The newspaper added an editorial note at the bottom of the letter: ” A spokesman with the Texas Secretary of State‚Äôs office said the office ‘strongly discourages offering any kind of financial benefit for voting, as it may constitute a violation of the Texas Penal Code on Bribery.’ On Wednesday evening, the rent rebate offer was rescinded.”

So what’s the deal? Was someone paying for votes? In a manner of speaking, yes. But here’s why the letter is misleading…

The statements above were part of a newsletter (and maybe flyer) announcing a “meet and greet” with candidates Bill Blackburn, Judy Eychner, and Delayne Sigerman. The mayor seemed to imply in her letter that these candidates had something to do with the rebate offer, and this is untrue. The candidates have no control over what promotions and offers a private landowner and landlord offers to his tenants. Further, the candidates are not attorneys for, or consultants to, any landlords, and do not have the expertise or inclination to offer legal advice to anyone — landlord or otherwise.

Meet and greets are a regular function of campaigns and take place on almost a weekly basis during campaign season. They are hosted by a variety of groups and individuals, many of which own businesses or residential rental facilities like apartments or assisted care facilities. The candidates do not have the time, energy, or inclination to investigate all of the goings-on at a location before they appear there to meet with potential voters.

Therefore, after we asked numerous questions of the candidates and others familiar with the matter, it is our conclusion that the candidates did not run afoul of any rules or laws.

Further, this rebate was not offered for a specific vote, but rather for ANY vote. In other words, the intention seems to be to increase voter turnout generally, and they did not ask for specific votes or proof of any vote for a specific candidate. There would be no way to verify who the person voted for, even if that WAS the intention. All that was asked is that a person show up wearing an “I Voted” sticker for their rebate.

The voter turnout for our citywide elections is embarrassingly low, coming in around 14% in last year’s election, and only 5% for younger voters. We must come up with creative ways to increase the voter turnout so that a wider variety of voices are represented in our city government. Was this the right idea? We’ll leave the conclusion up to you, but from all accounts, the intentions were honest.

Local developer blasts Mayor White and EIC

On the first day of early voting, Monday, April 23, a guest column was published in the Opinion section of the Kerrville Daily Times authored by Justin MacDonald, President of The MacDonald Companies, a residential housing developer.

The article makes several claims:

  • The EIC, constituted by a majority of White-majority appointees, has dragged its feet on the consideration of MacDonald’s workforce housing project on Thompson Drive
  • The EIC considered and approved an out-of-state applicant’s request for funding to demolish and improve the Econo Lodge site on Highway 16 North
  • The Econo Lodge project received 100% of their request for funds to demolish and rebuilt the highway entry, even though the grant they applied for is restricted to only 40% of demolition costs.
  • The EIC’s debate took place in executive session, so no public record has been made of the deliberations that took place leading up to this approval
  • The Mayor and her husband own tracts of land on each side of the Econo Lodge project, and their two tracts of land are included in this transaction, yet the mayor has not made any public statements at this point

Kerrville United is currently researching this topic and will share all information that we uncover.

Read the full article below:

Interview with Place 3 Candidate Judy Eychner

Earlier this year we invited all of the candidates in the city election to join us in studio for a conversation about the campaigns, local issues, and their qualifications to serve on our city council. Our first volunteer is Mrs. Judy Eychner, a candidate for Place 3.

We have reached out to the other candidates, too, and we will bring you an interview with Bill Blackburn in the near future. But we have not heard back from Mayor Bonnie White or Place 3 candidate Gary Cooper. If they take us up on our invitation, we’ll bring you those conversations, as well.

Remember that early voting begins on April 23 and election day is May 5. Get out the vote!

Election Season is Underway

With the close of business on Friday, February 16, the opportunity to file for a place on the citywide election ballot of 2018 came to an end. That begins the official campaign season for city council and mayoral candidates leading up to the May 5 election.

View our latest video that discusses who is running, explains how to make sure you’re registered to vote, and how to vote. There is also a special segment where we examine the voter turnout statistics from the most recent citywide election.

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