May ballots take shape after filing ends

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

March 2, 2022

No Whitney elections after candidates withdraw, AISD calls bond election…

Area voters will have several local decisions to make and two statewide constitutional amendments to decide in the Saturday, May 7 election.

After the filing period ended Friday, February 18, it initially appeared that both the City of Whitney and Whitney Independent School District would need elections, but that changed after two candidates withdrew their names from consideration.

Four candidates filed for three available two-year terms on the Whitney City Council, with incumbents Jerry Barker and Valery Peacock seeking to keep their spots and Martis Ward and Ken Scales also filing as candidates.

Scales later withdrew, and the city will no longer need an election. Mary Rae, who currently holds a council position, did not file for re-election.

Whitney ISD had two positions available for three-year terms on its Board of Trustees. Incumbent Bobby Cryns filed to keep his seat, and Amy Hoffman and Katheryn Foster also filed as candidates.

Cryns later withdrew from the race, and no election will be needed. Current board member Brad Brunett did not file for another term.

The City of Covington will not need an election after all who filed were unopposed. Curtis Wood filed to serve as mayor and will replace former mayor George Burnett, who recently resigned. Filing for council positions were Jo Anne Hicks, Diana Burnett, Bryan Barnes and Eric Welch.

Covington ISD will need an election to fill two seats on its board. Incumbents Andy Lopez and Freedom Jay will run again, and J.D. Kaye will also be on the ballot.

Blum ISD incumbents Richard McPherson and Elsa Scott were the only two candidates to file for their board seats, and no election will be needed.

Aquilla Independent School District has called a $9.25 million bond election for May to fund several upgrades to the campus, including new classrooms, a new event center for fine arts, a new turf football field and track, an expanded cafeteria and more. See accompanying story for more information.

The Aquilla ISD School Board has just over two months to convince voters to approve a new $9.25 million bond. The board voted to approve the Facility Committee’s recommendation and to put the bond on the ballot May 7.

The money for the projects would increase the district’s taxes by about 12 cents per $100 valuation. This calculates to about $10 a month for homes valued at $100,000. The average value of a home in Aquilla is $105,247.

If passed, the bond will pay for the construction of six new classrooms and a 12,000 square-foot multipurpose event center that would house all fine arts, including a theater, stage, band hall and new art room. This space would also have flexible seating for up to 500 people.

The bond would also incorporate several athletic upgrades, including a new artificial turf football field as well as a track and field for UIL events. Additionally, upgrades to the current facility will include an expanded cafeteria, dedicated elementary physical education room, a large outdoor covered space for outdoor events, covered walkways and 120 additional paved parking spots.

Aquilla Athletic Director Shannon Williams said, “To this day, our students do not have a place to practice track or field events. Our kids deserve that opportunity and should not have to go to another district to practice their events.”

The situation is very similar with fine arts, as Williams stated, “Students do not have the space needed to perform or practice for UIL competition.”

Board President David Snipes said, “The board has tried to be very conservative and very frugal with spending. AISD’s last bond election was in 2010 and will be paid off in 2023. The district’s bond issued in 2000 will be paid off in 2026. It is also fair to note that the district has decreased its I&S tax rate over the past 10 years by 12 cents.”

He added, “The time is right for the district to take this step in providing our students with the facilities it needs to carry them to the next level. The need is there and our voters will have the chance to help us fulfill that need.”

The intended project will be over the bond amount, but the district has set aside money in its fund balance to help offset this cost to some degree. The district’s budgeted contribution will exceed $1 million.

Superintendent Dr. David Edison said, “We believe we have been good stewards of our public funds and when given the opportunity to help pay for some of these projects, we want to do our part.”

The district had already purchased 15 acres of land for the new expansion back in 2014.

Edison concluded by stating, “We have taken a bold step in the pursuit of a bigger and brighter tomorrow for our students. We know this is a lot of money—we get it and understand that. We also know that our students deserve an opportunity to experience facilities and programs

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