As the four candidates for two Bellaire City Council positions work to drum up votes for December’s unprecedented runoff election, official precinct-by-precinct voting results are showing the areas of the city they must focus on to win their seats.
In a city where runoff elections rarely occur, Roseann Rogers must work hard to reach her Place 3 opponent Corbett Parker, and James Jameson must overcome a smaller disparity to reach his opponent Andrew Friedberg in the Place 5 race. All of them must fight against a small expected voter turnout for the Dec. 12 runoff.
“I have been here since ’97, we’ve never had a runoff,” said City Clerk Tracy Dutton. “So this is our first one.”
Dutton said one shock she experienced while preparing for the runoff is the cost of $20,500, which is more than double the cost of the regular election. During the Nov. 3 election, Harris County picked up half the cost, but the county won’t pay the runoff costs because it only includes Bellaire, Houston and the Houston Independent School District.
In the Place 3 race, Parker won a total of 1,374 votes in early and election-day voting in all five of Bellaire’s precincts, compared to a total of 784 votes that went to Rogers.
During early voting alone, Parker won the most votes in four precincts, and Rogers took first place in Precinct 214. However, on election day Parker raced ahead and won first place in all five precincts. Rogers came in second in all precincts, but it was a close call in Precinct 215 because opponent Richard Franke was only two votes behind Rogers.
The other two Place 3 candidates, Marie Anstead and Franke, won a total of 632 votes which will now be up for grabs in the runoff election. Rogers told InstantNewsBellaire the day after the election that she planned to take a look at the precinct data and work with her campaign team to form a strategy to win those votes.
Parker said he plans to target his message to voters in areas of town where he didn’t go before the election.
“I only got to 85 percent of Bellaire and lost 20 pounds,” Parker said on Nov. 4. “I need to get to the other 15 percent and lose five more pounds.”
The most recent campaign finance reports show that Parker continues to outpace Rogers both in campaign contributions and expenditures. Parker raised about $6,500 from Aug. 7 to Oct. 24, according to two campaign finance reports he filed with the city. During that time he spent about $6,200. Rogers’ two reports show she raised $1,220 and spent about $2,246 from Aug. 14 to Oct. 24.
The results for the Place 5 seat show that the candidates were closer than in the Place 3 race. Friedberg earned 1,330 votes while Jameson won 991. During early voting, Friedberg won the most votes in three precincts, but Jameson won first place in Precincts 128 and 182. The numbers changed on election day, with Friedberg taking first in all precincts and Jameson coming in at a solid second place.
A total of 493 votes went to the two other candidates, Tina Blum-Cohen and Johnnie Frazier. The runoff candidates must battle it out to win over those voters.
Both candidates told InstantNewsBellaire on Nov. 4 that they plan to stick with their original messages and try to reach out to as many voters as possible during the lead-up to the runoff.
Campaign finance reports show that Jameson raised more money than Friedberg, but Friedberg ended up spending more on his campaign. Friedberg raised nearly $3,000 from Aug. 11 to Oct. 24, according to two reports he filed with the city. During this time, he spent about $4,700 on his campaign. Jameson raised about $5,600 and he spent about $3,976 from Sept. 5 to Oct. 26.
Only about 15 percent of registered Bellaire voters actually voted in the city council election, totaling nearly 3,200 ballots. Officials expect fewer voters for the runoff election.
“My understanding is generally across the board it’s less,” Dutton said about the runoff turnout. “But having not had one, I just don’t know what to expect.”
Early voting for the Dec. 12 runoff election runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 8. The two locations closest to Bellaire are the Fiesta Mart at 8130 Kirby Dr. and the Bayland Park Community Center at 6400 Bissonnet St. Visit www.harrisvotes.org for a complete list of early voting locations.
Note: This story was updated Nov. 16 at 6:50 p.m. to include information from City Clerk Tracy Dutton.