Campaigning during COVID-19: Mayor Janet Gott talks 2nd term, 2021 election differences

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The May election took place Saturday. Only about four percent of the voting population of the county voice opinions in the most recent voting season.

Denison's Mayor Janet Gott won a decisive victory against challengers Matt Blackshear and Al Gilberti during Saturday's May 1 elections. Still, she said running for office during a global pandemic posed its own challenges, and while her reelection bid was successful, she learned some things along the way.

Gott received 83 percent of the 692 votes that were cast, effectively securing her second term as mayor.

"The results are very exciting and I am grateful and humbled by the support shown by our citizens," Gott said Monday.  I look forward to the next three years and the opportunity to serve the community I love.  For sure, I am happy the campaign is over so I can get back to work moving our community forward."

Janet Gott

Gott said 2021's election cycle proved to be a change from the norm and the traditional ways that one campaigns. While the pandemic did weigh on the 2020 spring election cycle, this is the cycle for Denison that took place fully during the pandemic.

Gott said that the candidates had to devise new strategies in order to campaign during a time when many public gatherings were cancelled or downsized.  Likewise, many in-person meetings were instead done virtually online and through social media.

"In past elections we spent a great deal of time with one on one and group meetings where we had real time questions and answers," Gott said. With the pandemic people were not comfortable so much of the personal contact was lost and we had to rely on social media campaigning."

Gott said she had many voters reach out to her via social media to ask questions. However, the majority of those reaching out virtually simply wanted to voice their support, she said.

"I did, however, have citizens reach out through social media, email, and phone contacts seeking answers to questions they might have. I particularly enjoyed the calls because it did allow for  some personal contact and dialogue.

The Grayson County Election Administration sits across the street from the Grayson County Courthouse in the Sherman square.

"In general, I think citizens are happy with the work we have done for the last 3 years."

Looking forward at the next three years, Gott said she plans to focus on the projects and growth already taking place in Denison. This includes the city-driven rebuild of Main Street under the Designing Downtown Denison project and the growth that city leaders anticipate will come with it.

Alongside the D3 project, Gott said she anticipates that the restoration and multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Katy will also be a large focus area during her second tenure.

Volunteers adjust voting sign in equipment ahead of the primary runoff election in July 2020.

Housing will continue to be a recurring focus area during her tenure, Gott said. As unprecedented growth continues to move north from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Texoma will continue to see a constant need for new housing, she said.

"The growth isn't coming here — it already is here.," Gott said.

Saturday's elections also saw Michael Courtright, who was unopposed, and James Thorne elected to the city council. Thorne was successful in his bid for office against former Denison firefighter Kevin Arrington.