Candidates make late stop in Liberty Hill
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Williamson County has seen record turnout for early voting, and Liberty Hill contributed to those big numbers when a combined 1,459 showed up to the polls in two days at the Over the Hill Gang.
In contrast, 660 voted last May in early voting and on Election Day for city and school board races.
With three days of early voting to go, 126,083 have cast ballots in Williamson County, eclipsing the total vote from the last midterm in 2014, including Election Day.
In a last-minute stop, a handful of area candidates took center stage Oct. 25 to make a campaign pitch in Liberty Hill.
The Liberty Hill Chamber of Commerce hosted its monthly Lunch and Learn, and invited all candidates. Although the attendance of Chamber members was light, the nine candidates that accepted the invitation got a chance to speak directly to area voters.
In the Williamson County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace contest, both candidates emphasized the office’s opportunity to impact people’s lives directly, and how important that responsibility is to them.
Democrat challenger Audrey Amos-McGehee opened by touting her activist nature.
“I’m not a politician,” Amos-McGehee said. “I’m not a political activist. I’m a community activist. A community activist is someone who is boots on the ground, who is getting their hands dirty by working individually with the people in need.
“I’m going to make you proud. America was designed to be this melting pot, where people came from all races and ethnicities, regardless of the religion you serve or where you come from. The look of Williamson County, like the rest of America has changed. It now has people of all colors, all races, all ethnicities.”
Incumbent Republican Edna Staudt promoted her 24 years in the position.
“I’ve been there for quite a while, but only because the people of this precinct have put me there,” Staudt said. “When I took office, I took the oath seriously and I understood that we are all created equally. Everyone who comes through the court is treated that way. The position has so many far-reaching aspects. I’ve worked with the community in community service and also with the different programs I have.”
The Pct. 2 County Commissioner race also pits experience against a new perspective as Democrat Kasey Redus takes on Republican incumbent Cynthia Long.
For Redus, her experience as a business owner and time teaching have prepared her for the elected post.
“I’m a small business owner in Cedar Park,” Redus said, adding that her teaching experience prior to that uniquely qualifies her. “You learn to fine tune your ability to listen, you learn to discern and you learn to evaluate individual needs and evaluate them as a whole.”
A dozen years in office, with a list of accomplishments she is proud of is what Long is leaning on this election.
“Serving the community is what I do,” Long said, as she shared her volunteer experiences as well as elected and appointed offices. “I was elected to get things done for the families in our community and I think I’ve accomplished that, but there is much left to do.”
She also talked about the county’s focus on transportation issues, including numerous projects that have or will soon impact Liberty Hill.
Incumbent Republican County Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer spoke briefly about what his office is responsible for. His opponent, Democrat Omar Kadir did not attend the event.
“I have the most exciting job in Williamson County politics,” he said. “I know from being out on the trail a lot of people don’t know (what the Treasurer does). Basically, I’m the banker for the county. I am charged with getting that money safely to the bank, then care-taking for that money while it’s in the county’s possession.”
Heselmeyer said his office has earned about $8.8 million in investment income in the last fiscal year.
County Court at Law Judge Brandy Hallford, the Republican incumbent, said the opportunity to advocate for children is what drives her.
“I hear a lot of different areas of law,” Hallford said. “But a real large portion of my docket is child protective services cases and that’s where my heart is. I not only understand the law in this area, but I understand the complicated Child Protective Services system.”
Hallford’s opponent, Democrat Don Morehart, was not in attendance.
Two of the three candidates for Williamson County Judge shared their credentials and focus as candidates.
“I’m running for this office because it is an exciting time, a challenging time for Williamson County,” said Democrat Blane Conklin. “We are one of the fastest growing counties in the nation and I want to focus on the important issues that impact our county that go along with that growth, public safety, public health, and infrastructure.”
Republican candidate Bill Gravell touted his experience as a judge, with his court clearing 83,000 cases in just over five years.
“I’ve served as your Justice of the Peace in Williamson County Pct. 3. The court that I lead is the 22nd busiest judicial court in the state of Texas,” he said. “Williamson County is important to me, and we should protect the values we have.”
Independent conservative candidate Bill Kelberlau did not attend the event.
Republican incumbent Terry Wilson, running for reelection to District 20 in the Texas House of Representatives, used his allotted time to defend other Republican candidates and call out the media for its treatment of Congressman John Carter.
Wilson’s opponent, Democrat Stephen Wyman was not at the lunch program.
Closing out the list of candidates was Republican incumbent District 31 U.S. Rep. John Carter, whose opponent, Democrat MJ Hegar was not in attendance. Carter focused on recent legislation in support of veterans, and his connection to Williamson County over his connection to Washington D.C.
“I go to Washington D.C. on behalf of the people in Williamson and Bell counties,” Carter said. “Our future is fantastic. I go to Washington for you. I have run a clean race, a state race, and I will always do that.”
Neither candidate from the Texas Senate District 5 race – Republican incumbent Charles Schwertner or Democrat Meg Walsh – attended the event.
Registered voters can cast a ballot at any polling location within the county on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The polling location for Liberty Hill is Liberty Hill High School, 16500 W. SH 29.
A full list of polling locations in the county can be found on the elections office website (www.wilco.org/departments/elections) and voters can find sample ballots as well.