The race to fill the vacant Denison City Council Place 6 seat has become a crowded field with four candidates registered to run for the position in May. With the high number of candidates, city officials said there is a high chance that the race will result in a runoff later this summer.
With the already crowded field, city officials said at least two other potential candidates have expressed interest in the seat or have picked up paperwork needed to file as of Friday morning.
“I think it is just the growth that Denison is seeing that is getting people interested in being involved,” City Secretary Chris Wallentine said Friday.
The seat was made vacant in January when council member Janet Gott resigned her seat in order to run for mayor following the end of Mayor Jared Johnson’s term limit. As Gott has not completed her term, the winner of this special election will complete the final year of her term.
The first candidate to file in the race for Place 6 was Denison Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Charles Shearer, who filed on Feb. 14. This was followed by former Denison Coach Rayce Guess, Denison Arts Council board member Brian Hander and Donald Ashley in the following days.
Unlike many of the other council seats, Wallentine said Place 6 is an at-large position that represents the entire city. As such, candidates do not have to be from a specific part of the city in order to run for the position. Wallentine said this in turn may have contributed to the large number of candidates in the special election.
In order to win the seat outright, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote, Wallentine said. If one candidate does not win the majority, the two candidates with the highest percentage of the vote will go on to a runoff election on June 16, Wallentine said. As there is a large number of candidates, Wallentine said this scenario is very likely.
The city secretary added that she is unsure if the city has ever had a runoff for a city council position in its history.
While the special election for Place 6 has drawn in multiple candidates, the city is expected to cancel three regular elections due to those races having unopposed candidates. For the regular elections, candidates had until Feb. 16 to register.
Wallentine said the city council is expected to vote on canceling the election during a meeting on March 19.
With the cancellation of the regular election, this effectively means that Gott will be the new mayor of Denison starting in May. Additionally, former council member Obie Greenleaf will be seated in Place 2, replacing Bill Malvern, who is at the end of his term limit. Teresa Adams was unopposed in her bid for re-election for Place 1.
Candidates still considering running for Place 6 have until the end of the day on March 5 to file with the city.