Denison unofficially started its election season Monday when it drew the order names will appear on the ballot for its one contested City Council race. The race for Place 6, an at large position, will see incumbent Rayce Guess challenged for his seat by Brian Hander.
This year, the order was determined through a game of high card, with deputy city clerk Kacie Galyon drawing for Guess, who was absent from the drawing. Ultimately, Hander’s No. 8 card was enough to beat the No. 3 card drawn for Guess and secure his place at the top of the ballot.
Hander and Guess are two of five candidates who ran to fill the empty council seat last year. The May vote ultimately resulted in a runoff with both candidates tying for second place and the question of who would be on the runoff ballot initially undecided.
“This definitely brings back some memories,” Hander said of the new election. “It is a little nerve wracking, I won’t lie to you.”
Guess could not be reached for comment Monday.
The race for Place 6 started in early 2018 when Janet Gott announced she would be resigning her seat in order to run for mayor of Denison — a position she ultimately won unopposed. That left the city to conduct a special election to decide who would fill the last year of Gott’s unexpired term.
City officials at the time speculated that it was the at-large nature of Place 6 that led to five candidates to run for the position. As Place 6 represents the whole city rather than a single district, individuals from across Denison can run for the position.
The May 2018 election was inconclusive, with no candidate receiving more than 50 percent of the vote, which forced a runoff election the next month. Planning and Zoning Chairman Charles Shearer secured his position in the June runoff, but Guess and Hander tied for second place, leaving questions of who would be the second name on the ballot.
Texas election code calls for tie votes to be resolved through the casting of lots but does not say how the lots should be cast. The city gave the candidates the decision between rolling the dice or a coin toss to decide who would face Shearer. Ultimately, it was Guess who won the place on the ballot via coin toss and later the seat on the council over Shearer.
Monday brought a bit of déjà vu for Hander, but he said he hoped this year would bring him better luck. This referred not only to his bid for council but also his place on the ballot after he was on the bottom of the list of candidates in 2018.
Hander said he decided to run for again because of the growth and development that Denison has seen recently.
“There is a lot of changes coming to Denison, a lot going on, and I just want to be a part of that and a positive voice in that change,” Hander said. “Now is the best time to do that. Why wait?”
May’s election will see another shift in the make-up of the council. In January, long-time council member Michael Baecht announced he would not seek re-election for Place 4. Robert Crawley was the only candidate to file for the election and is expected to be declared the winner of the seat.