A campaign season marked by a constant and sometimes rancorous social media presence ended Saturday in Brownwood as Mayor Stephen Haynes defeated challenger Mike Tittle by a comfortable margin. In the contest for the Ward 1 city council seat, incumbent H.D. Jones defeated challenger Pat McLaughlin.
Place 4 council member Draco Miller also ran for re-election and was unopposed.
Haynes received 986 votes (58 percent) to Tittle’s 715 votes (42 percent) according to unofficial returns from the Brown County Elections Office. Jones received 988 votes (60.3 percent, and McLaughlin received 650 votes (40 percent).
In the Blanket school board race, Edwin Davis defeated Robert Menchaca in place 6 by a count of 207 votes (72 percent) to 81 votes (28 percent). In Place 7, Chris Furry defeated Gayla McLaughlin by a count of 215 votes (75 percent) to 72 votes (25 percent). Autumn Hood was unopposed in Place 5.
In the City of Bangs election, voters approved the legal sale of beer and wine by a count of 106 to 45 (70.2 percent to 28.8 percent).
At the elections office, Tittle and Haynes, accompanied by their wives, Cindy and Lori, chatted about family and other topics as they waited for election returns.
There was no sign that the two campaigns and their supporters had been locked in a heated contest, with Empower Texans and the Facebook group Big Country We the People backing Tittle. Brownwood City Council members indicated through social media and sometimes with public comments that they supported Haynes.
“Like everybody else, I’m waiting for it to be over — one way or the other,” Tittle remarked as the candidates, their wives and a small group of city officials socialized.
Tittle, 58, remained in good spirits when the returns from early and absentee voting showed Haynes with a lead. When the final numbers were posted, Tittle instantly congratulated Haynes and their wives embraced.
“I want to congratulate Stephen on his win,” Tittle said in an interview. “Honestly, coming in to the race, I knew it would be very difficult to beat a longterm hometown incumbent, but I thought I would give it a shot.
“And so I want to congratulate Stephen and let him know, and let the town know, that I’ll support Stephen any way that I can, and I want to thank my supporters and all those who voted for me and helped me as well.”
Tittle said he probably won’t try politics again. “I was thinking, one run would make me 62, probably one term is what I would consider, and that would be enough time to work on some of our city finances,” Tittle said.
Tittle said he viewed the campaign as “competitive. … it’s kind of like football. You work hard, you block, you tackle, you sweat, and after the game’s over, you get up and shake hands. Somebody wins and somebody loses, and you can’t win them all. I’m not really disappointed.”
Tittle referred to a message on his Facebook page: “If it’s in God’s plan for me to serve the people, then I’ll serve the people. But if it’s in God’s plan for me to go back to being a full time pawpaw and volunteer, I’ll do that. I’ll be happy either way.”
Haynes, 43, said he is “very happy, very grateful, just overwhelmed at the support from my friends and my colleagues. It’s really a humbling thing and just very honored.”
When asked if he was confident he’d win, Haynes said, “I don’t think you ever feel confident. Every politician says you’re either running scared or you’re not running. So you just have to keep working to the end and do the best you can.
“I owe it all to my supporters and my friends. Something that meant a lot to me — the city council stood beside me. I’m very proud of the work they’ve done. I’m very proud of the work the city department heads have done and all of our workers. I think this is a vote for them.”
Haynes said he thinks he won because of progress including retail growth, street paving and parks improvements.
Haynes said he will try to reach Tittle’s supporters. “Unity is very important,” Haynes said. “You’ve got to represent all the people, not just the people who elected you. You represent them all, and you do your best to address the issues to he best of your ability.”
Addressing the sometimes vitriolic tone of the contest, Haynes said, “Time has a way of healing those things, I think. People get very excited, I think, and get heated sometimes in politics. That’s just the nature of it. It’s not a business for somebody that’s thin skinned. You forgive and forget, and you move on and address all the people.”
Haynes said he had known he would be a target of Empower Texans. “I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they would try to influence the election,” Haynes said. “it’s not just in Brownwood. They’re trying to influence elections all across the state of Texas right now, and I can’t tell you what their movies might be.”
Haynes concluded by saying he is “just very happy and very blessed, very thankful for my supporters, my council and my city manager, our department heads and all the employees in the city of Brownwood. This victory doesn’t happen without them and I’m very blessed to have them in my life.”