Last minute filings change dynamics in city, school races


Hours before the deadline to file for a place on the election ballot for Liberty Hill City Council, candidates jockeying for position moved from one place to another changing the dynamics of what is shaping up to be an interesting political season.

In each of the four positions open on the City Council, there will be  three candidates on the May 12 election ballot increasing the likelihood that some races will be decided in a runoff 30 days later.

At the top of the list of local races to watch is the race for Mayor of Liberty Hill.

Last week, the owner of The Leader, Jamie Williamson, entered the race to challenge incumbent Mayor Michele “Mike” Murphy.

But, after incumbent Councilman Jack Harkrider drew a third opponent for his Place 2 position, he withdrew this name from that race last Monday afternoon and filed for Mayor. Within a short time, Mayor Murphy returned to City Hall to withdraw her candidacy for Mayor and entered the race for Place 2 — effectively switching places with Harkrider and leaving him to face Mrs. Williamson for Mayor.

Harkrider is a retired school teacher and former journalist.

In Place 2, Ms. Murphy, a musician and former music school owner,  will face Vickie Brewer and Della Hodgson.

Mrs. Brewer is an optician and Ms. Hodgson is a retired federal government employee. On Feb. 27, Ms. Hodgson filed her intent to run for Place 5, but switched to Place 2 on March 1.

In Place 4, longtime Councilman Charles Canady is being challenged by Wendell McLeod and Carrie Van Meeteren.

Canady, owner of Quick Service Garage, and McLeod previously served together on the City Council and the Board of Directors of the Liberty Hill Water Supply Corp. The two disagreed strongly over the City’s acquisition of the water system where McLeod also served as general manager before being hired by the City in 2011 to work in its new water utility department.

McLeod, who lists his occupation as “retired” on his ballot application, was fired from the City job in December 2011. His wife is still a city employee.

Mrs. Van Meeteren, a six-year resident of Liberty Hill, lists her occupation as engineer.

While the filing deadline is extended to March 12 in the Place 5 race because it is a special election to fill a vacated seat, there are already three candidates seeking the position.

Among those is Liz Rundzieher, a former member of the Council who was defeated in 2011 by current Councilman Byron Tippie. Mrs. Rundzieher works in fiscal accounting.

Also running in the open seat are Elizabeth Branigan, a registered nurse, and Sammy Pruett, a local real estate appraiser. Ms. Branigan and Pruett are both serving as Council appointees to city committees. Ms. Branigan, who sought a position on the Council in 2011 but  withdrew before that election, serves on the Parks Board. Pruett is a member of the Planning & Zoning Commission.

In May 2011, there were 147 votes cast in each Council race.

LHISD Board of Trustees

There are three positions on the ballot for School Trustee for the Liberty Hill Independent School District.

In Place 5, incumbent Alfie Perrin has drawn three challengers — David Wise, Renee Morgan and Jim Dillon.

In Place 4, incumbent Leslye Pogue is being challenged by Kim Corbett.

And in Place 3, incumbent David Nix is running unopposed.

Municipal elections will be held May 12, with early voting from April 30-May 8.

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