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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Arredondo to seek recount after missing runoff

Staff Writers

Reeves County voters in Precincts 1 and 3 will be going back to the polls next month to decide runoff elections for county commissioner, though for voters in Precinct 1, which two candidates will be in the April 13 runoff race may take a while to decide.

Incumbent Felipe Arredondo fell one vote short of qualifying for the April runoff in Precinct 1, based on the initial count of votes in Tuesday’s Democratic Party primary election. Arredondo received 208 votes to 209 for Robert C. Natividad. Rogelio “Roy” Alvarado placed first in the five candidate race, picking up 377 votes.

In the Precinct 3 race, former Pecos High School agriculture teacher Bailey Wheeless led a crowded field of nine candidates, and will be in a runoff against Saul F. Herrera, who finished 31 votes ahead of Joel Madrid, the No. 3 candidate in the Precinct 3 field.

County Democratic Party chairman Robert C. Dean said canvassing of the votes would take place sometime Thursday afternoon at the Reeves County Courthouse. “If Felipe wants a recount then we can do that,” Dean said at the conclusion of Tuesday’s vote count.

Arredondo said this morning that he will be asking for a re-count in Tuesday’s elections. “I got together with Bobby Dean and talked to him about a recount,” said Arredondo. “We need to send an application and a letter and I will have that ready by Friday.” Arredondo said that he has until Sunday to make the request, but that all the necessary paperwork would be ready and submitted by Friday.

“I think I deserve a recount and the people who are backing me asking for one,” said Arredondo. “I owe it to them to ask for one and you never know, it was just one vote and things could go the other way.

Dean said that Arredondo would have to file a petition and put up a deposit. “The deposit is $140, $70 per precinct,” said Dean.

He added that he would have to notify all of the candidates who are running for election in that precinct. “They all have the right to have one representative present during the re-count,” said Dean.

Reeves County uses the punch card system that became notorious nationally in 2000, during the recount in three Florida counties in the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. As a result the recount, a study was done of the voting system, which indicated problems with the punch cards and the card readers created an error rate of up to 3 percent in vote tabulations.

The vote counting problems led Congress to mandate elimination of punch card ballots by 2006. Dean said a new voting system would be in place when the next primary elections occur two years from now.

For the upcoming recount, Dean said that they would have to take the ballots and count them by hand and see if the number comes out the same.

“We had 15 undervotes, which means that those 15 didn’t vote for any of the candidates,” aid Dean.

He said that they would look at those 15 votes and see if there were any “pregnant chads.”

“These are ballots where an individual might have wanted to vote for someone, but it didn’t punch through all the way,” said Dean.

Dean said that they would then need to determine if it was a “pregnant chad” and if it will be counted.

Dean said that there was a lot of paperwork involved in a recount and that this had happened four years ago, though the margin involved was not as small Alvarado, who is assured of a spot in the April 13 runoff, said, “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m real excited,” about the victory.

“I’m a little surprised at it (the margin) being so high,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing whoever is going to be my next opponent and wish them luck,” he said. “I want to thank God, my family, my girlfriend and friends, and all the people that supported me.” The other two candidates in the Precinct 1 election were “Chel” Florez and Armando “Mondie” Granado. Florez received 116 votes and Granado picked up 97 from Precinct 1 voters.

Arredondo led Natividad by a 157-144 vote margin in early voting for the Precinct 1 seat, while Alvarado had 251 votes in the early voting totals, which accounted for about 60 percent of the 3,551 total votes cast county-wide.

In the Precinct 3 election, Wheeless and Herrera both received 111 votes in the early voting totals, while Wheeless picked up an addition 91 votes on Tuesday to finish with 202, tops among the nine candidates in the crowded Precinct 3 field. Herrera picked up an additional 63 votes to finish with 174, while Madrid wound up with 143 votes, 68 of those during the early voting period.

“The voters now have a more definite decision to make about their county commissioner,” Wheeless said this morning. “Congratulations to everyone who ran in this race. It was a clean race and we are going to get out there and keep trying.”

He also congratulated Herrera and asked for voters support again in the April 13 runoff. “I just want to thank all the candidates and thank them for running a good, clean race,” said Herrera. “I also want to thank all the voters who came out to vote, and all my supporters, and I also want to congratulate Mr. Wheeless. I’m looking forward to the runoff.”

“We’re grateful. We really appreciate all of the people that supported us,” said Madrid. “I feel like we ran a good honest campaign and I wish the best of luck to Mr. Wheeless and Mr. Herrera in the runoff and I encourage everyone to go out and vote in the run off.”Precinct 3 includes the southern portion of Reeves County, which favored Madrid and Rosendo Galindo in the nine-person field. Madrid received 97 of his 143 votes from voters in the Balmorhea and Saragosa boxes, while Galindo picked up 84 votes overall, 77 of those from Balmorhea and Saragosa.

Among the other candidates James “Jimmy” Gallego picked up 75 votes, Lisa Lopez Boicourt had 58 votes, Abel Baeza 52 votes, Manuel “Manny” Lopez had 34 votes and Joseph Peter Rodriguez finished with 26 votes.

The winner of the April 13 runoff will currently be unopposed in the November general election. The eventual winner will replace current incumbent Herman Tarin, who decided in December not to seek a fourth term as Precinct 3 commissioner.

Reeves votes give Reynolds DA race win

Staff Writer

Voters in the 143rd District supported their home county candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election, and the bigger turnout in Reeves County meant victory for incumbent Randy Reynolds in his bid for a third term in office.

Reynolds, a Pecos attorney who was first elected as district attorney for Reeves, Ward and Loving counties in 1996, was being challenged by Monahans attorney Hal Upchurch, who served as district attorney for the three county area between 1989 and 1992. Upchurch wound up beating Reynolds in Ward County by a 1,265-701 vote margin, but Reynolds more than made up for that in Reeves County where he picked up 2,021 votes to 980 for Upchurch.

Combined wit a 38-33 vote margin in Loving County, if gave Reynolds an overall 2,760 to 2,278 margin over Upchurch, who resigned from his position as 143rd District Attorney in 1992 after three years of service, amid the allegations of the misuse of funds surrounding reverse drug stings, which occurred outside the boundaries of the 143rd judicial district.

“I certainly appreciate all those who supported me,” said Reynolds. “I really appreciate the support I had in each county.”

“Sometimes the voters go with the people they have had personal contact with. I’ve contacted more people in reeves County and he’s contacted more in Ward County,” said Reynolds, who added that the contested elections for commissioner and sheriff in Reeves County probably helped increase his vote totals.

“With our contested races the voters got out in Reeves County, and that certainly contributed to the votes here,” he said.

Upchurch, who was unavailable for comment this morning, alleged in his February 9 interview with the Monahans News that then-Texas Attorney General Mattox had targeted him after he moved a planned drug sting involving two of his undercover agents out of McLennan County (Waco). The action came after he learned Mattox was going to personally be in Waco to lead a massing drug bust.

Mattox later sent a letter to the New in response to Upchurch’s comments, saying that his office would not have “been after Hal Upchurch is we had felt he was following the dictates of the law" in 1993 when Upchurch was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of failure to file an income tax return.

Upchurch alleged in his February 9 interview that Mattox had targeted him after he moved a planned drug sting involving two of his undercover agents out of McLennan County (Waco). The action came after he learned Mattox was going to personally be in Waco to lead a massing drug bust.

“I immediately knew that this would mean large media coverage and television footage of the Attorney General kicking down the door and arresting the drug ring, and I knew that the only reason for his involvement was to obtain publicity for his political campaign,” he said. Mattox unsuccessfully tried for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1990, losing in the primary election to Ann Richards.

Upchurch pled no contest in 1993 to counts of of­ficial misconduct and official oppression in connection with the filing of a forfeiture proceeding in Ward County in which he failed to name Jeff Cahill as a party.

During the campaign, Upchurch charged that Reynolds had allowed a local woman, Maria Carrera to “sit in jail waiting for the district attorney to decide whether or not to dismiss her case or present it to the grand jury.”

Reynolds denies the charge, and has begun running ads stating that Upchurch’s claim that the choice for the delay was his, is not true.

Reynolds states in his ad that Carrera violated her parole from prison when she was charged with assault on an elderly person and arrested on September 18.

Gomez wins re-election bid over Baeza,
Loving County sheriff’s race ends in tie

Staff Writers

Andy Gomez held off a challenge from former deputy Jeffrey P. Baeza on Tuesday, winning nomination to a fourth term as Reeves County Sheriff in the Democratic primary election.

Gomez picked up 1,946 votes to 1,517 for Baeza, and currently is unopposed in the November general election.

Meanwhile, up in Loving County, a race to fill a vacant sheriff’s position in the nation’s least-populated county will have to be decided a month from now, after the two candidates seeking that position ended up in a tie.

Gomez, who was defeated four-term sheriff Raul Florez to win the office in 1992, said he is happy that he will be staying in office for the next four years.

“I thank God for helping me through this and for everything,” said Gomez. “I have a good bunch of people backing me,” he said.

Gomez said that he wanted to thank his family, staff and friends for always being there for him and supporting him. “Thanks to my family for believing in me,” he said.

“I’m here to serve the public and will continue to do my job to the best of my ability,” said Gomez. “Thanks to all the voters who went out and voted,” he said.

Gomez said that he plans to keep an open door policy and to help people. “I want to make this a good community to live in and I am here to help,” he said.

Gomez picked up 884 votes in the early voting, 190 more than Baeza, who was making his first run for elective office, and added another 1,052 votes on Tuesday, while Baeza picked up 823 votes from persons casting ballots on Tuesday. Gomez also fared better with voters in Pecos, while Baeza’s strongest showings came in Toyah, and in the Balmorhea-Saragosa area.

“I want to thank my friends and supporters who helped me through the campaign,” Baeza said. “I want to wish the citizens of Reeves County good luck with the decision they made.

Baeza, who cited excessive spending by the sheriff’s department during the past year while running for office, said he hasn’t decided yet what he’ll do after losing Tuesday’s election. “I have a few options, but I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he said.

Up in Mentone, candidates Tom Jones and Billy Hopper both picked up 41 votes in the race for Loving County Sheriff, and will face each other again on April 13, in which would normally be the day for runoff races between the top two finishers in multi-candidate races.

To the south of Reeves County, another former sheriff’s deputy in the county lost in his bid for re-election as Jeff Davis County Sheriff. Steve Bailey, who was seeking a third term in office, lost to challenger Jimmy “J.D.” Wilbourn by a 337-320 vote margin.

Prayer group plans enchilada plate sale

An enchilada plate sale will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Friday at the Santa Rosa Hall.

Plates will be $4 a plate and deliveries will be made on three or more orders. The event is sponsored by the Prayer Group.

To order on the day of the event call 445-2302.

Pecos LL meeting scheduled tonight

The Pecos Little League will be holding a meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Chano Prieto Little League field on West Walthall Street.

The meeting is to plan for the 2004 season. All coaches and managers are urged to attend.


High Tuesday 73. Low this morning 42. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after midnight. Lows in the mid 40s. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Thursday: Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. Much colder. Highs in the mid 50s. Northeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. Lows near 40. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Friday: Cloudy with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs near 55. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 40s. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with isolated showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 70s. Saturday night: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows near 40.


William Ellis

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