TEXARKANA, Texas — Because of a one-time challenger’s late withdrawal from the race, the election for the Ward 2 seat on the City Council could result in another election.
Mary Adele Philips filed to run against incumbent Ward 2 Council Member Mary Hart and later officially withdrew from the race — but not in time to be removed from the ballot. That means she could still get votes, and if she gets more than Hart, the seat will be considered vacant and a special election called to fill it.
Philips withdrew her candidacy in writing on Sept. 14. But by state law, the last day to do so and be removed from the ballot was Aug. 23.
In such a case, state law says that if a withdrawn candidate receives enough votes for election, the office in question is vacant and “the resulting vacancy shall be filled in the regular manner.” In Texarkana, a vacant City Council seat is filled by special election if the vacancy occurs in the first two years of the three-year term, or by appointment in the third year.
Hart said she is aware of the situation and proceeding accordingly.
“I’m campaigning as if she is actually running,” said Hart, reached Friday in Houston, where she, other council members and city staffers were attending a Texas Municipal League seminar. “I’m out there meeting the public and the voters.”
Philips declined to comment.
Hart is serving her first term after being elected unopposed in 2017.
That year, voters approved amending the city charter to change City Council terms from two years to three years. To transition to the longer terms while keeping elections evenly staggered, one of the three members elected that year was chosen by random drawing to serve a four-year term. Hart drew the four-year term.
Council Member Jean Matlock this year is running unopposed for re-election to the Ward 1 seat, which she has held since 2015.
Mayor Bob Bruggeman is seeking a fifth consecutive term and faces a challenge from former Council Member Brian Matthews.
Early voting begins Oct. 18, and Election Day is Nov. 2.