A total of 5,364 ballots were cast in the March 3 Primary Election, including 4,167 Republican ballots, and 1,197 Democratic ballots. Almost 31 percent of Aransas County’s registered voters went to the polls.
“Overall, the primary election went off without a hitch. Our election judges and clerks worked feverishly to keep the lines moving. There was a line outside of Rockport VFD (the busiest voting center) most of the day but the voters didn’t seem to mind. They were both courteous and understanding,” said Aransas County Elections Administrator Michele Carew.
“We plan our elections around the needs of our voters. We provided additional staff at each location as well as my office. This streamlined the process, which in turn helped us get our numbers out in a timely manner.”
The local races that drew the most interest were in the four contested races in the Republican Primary.
The most talked about race was for county attorney. Amanda Oster, a newcomer to Aransas County politics, easily defeated Kristen Barnebey by earning close to 75 percent of the votes cast.
Barnebey and the Rockport Police Department (RPD) were always at odds about something since she refused to take the RPD’s cases starting a week before Hurricane Harvey. Shortly before the election, Barnebey and the Aransas County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) went crossways after the ACSO took possession of a handgun from one of Barnebey’s associate’s prior to the associate entering one of the courtrooms in the Aransas County Courthouse.
“I want to thank the residents of Aransas County. You sent our campaign a clear message and mandate to serve our citizens with poise and purpose,” said Oster.
“I look forward to taking office Jan. 1, 2021, and I will immediately work in our community to create transparency and trust.”
Barnebey did not respond to email requests for comment.
A race that also involved voters in the entire county was the one for Aransas County Tax Assessor-Collector.
Longtime Tax Assessor-Collector Jeri Cox did not seek reelection.
Chief Deputy Tax Assessor-Collector Anna Marshall won close to 60 percent of the votes cast to beat Jeff Hutt.
“Thank you so much to all the voters who voted for me in this primary election, to all those who supported my campaign, and to my incredible campaign family,” said Marshall. “I am so excited to be able to continue my service for all Aransas County residents as their next Tax Assessor-Collector, I know I have some really big shoes to fill.”
Hutt said, “I would like to thank all those who came out and voted. A big thanks, too, to my family, especially my wife, Christy. I think everything this woman touches turns to gold. A special heartfelt mention to Roland Rios and Ray Garza; both are true patriots.
“We gave it a good shot. It is hard to win a countywide race when the local Chamber and the local Republican Party actively supports your opponent. Best of luck to Ms. Marshall as she takes over the Tax Office and well wishes to Mrs. Cox as she retires. God bless Aransas County.”
In the two county commissioner races, one incumbent was defeated, and the other one was returned to office.
Former County HR Director Pat Rousseau defeated incumbent Charles Smith for the Pct. 3 commissioner’s post securing a little more than 54 percent of the vote. Smith had served several terms and then retired from public office. He was appointed to his former position after Commissioner Brian Olsen moved out of the county. Rousseau was also considered for the post at that time.
“I greatly appreciate all the prayers and support I received from the time of my announcement, through Tuesday’s election,” said Rousseau. “I am looking forward to working with the current and newly elected officials to get back to the ABCs of county government.”
Smith did not respond to email requests for comment.
Incumbent Pct. 1 Commissioner Jack Chaney beat Melissa Esquivel, garnering a little more than 60 percent of the vote. Esquivel was also a newcomer to Aransas County politics.
“I just want to take a moment to thank God and all of the people that voted in the recent primary election,” said Chaney. “I am honored to have been selected as your county commissioner for Precinct 1 and 1A.
“I want to thank everyone who supported me in this race. I promise to serve you, as well as those who did not vote for me, equally and honestly. I want to thank my opponent, Melissa Esquivel, for the clean race she ran. I wish her the best. I will continue to be visible and available as need be. Call me at (361) 463-6121 anytime you have a question or need my help.”
Esquivel thanked everyone for his or her support during her campaign.
“This was such a fun and exciting learning experience, and I am thrilled I was blessed with this opportunity,” she said. “I met many wonderful people along the way, and learned a great deal of valuable information. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience.
“Although I wasn’t selected to represent the residents of Pct. 1 & 1A, I feel providing the public with a choice during election is more important. I am honored to have been able to provide that opportunity. Once again, thank you to all who supported me during this campaign, and a special thanks to all who came to the polls to have your voice heard.”
Carew said, “I want to personally thank both parties, our election judges and clerks, my office staff and the polling locations for a job well done. Without them none of this would be possible.”
Votes cast at the different voting centers are as follows: Elections and Voter Registration Office, 2,933; Fulton Volunteer Fire Department, 567; GI Forum, 288; Rockport Service Center, 207; and RVFD, 925.
Vote totals in the four contested local races are as follows (early + absentee votes / election day votes / total votes / percentage)
Amanda Oster – 1,994 / 840 / 2,834 / 72.61%
Kristen Barnebey – 656 / 413 / 1,069 / 27.39%
Anna Marshall – 1,647 / 593 / 2,240 / 58.39%
Jeffery (Jeff) Hutt – 946 / 650 / 1,596 / 41.61%
Precinct 1 County Commissioner
Jack Chaney – 229 / 202 / 431 / 60.28%
Melissa Esquivel – 171 / 113 / 284 / 39.72%
Precinct 3 County Commissioner
Pat Rousseau – 467 / 171 / 638 / 54.11%
Charles Smith – 418 / 123 / 541 / 45.89%
Complete local election results can be found at www.aransasountytx.gov.