All three challengers in the Brownwood City Council race won handily in Saturday’s election, earning big victories that will send the incumbents home.
In Ward 2, businessman H.D. Jones received 70 percent of the votes, defeating eight-year incumbent Ed McMillian 964 votes to 410.
In Ward 3, retired school superintendent Carl McMillan defeated four-year incumbent Grady Chastain and another challenger, Trey Davis. McMillan received 725 votes (53 percent), Chastain received 457 votes (34 percent) and Davis received 180 votes (13 percent).
In Ward 5, retired Howard Payne University professor Jerry DeHay garnered 62 percent of the votes in defeating 10-year incumbent Charles Lockwood, 849 votes to 525.
The three winners said they weren’t surprised that all of the incumbents lost because voters seemed ready for a change.
Controversies over the past several months including the resignation of City Manager Kevin Carruth and the proposed annexation of Camp Bowie industries were factors, Jones, McMillan and DeHay said.
Ward 2 winner Jones said he expects residents to see “lots of changes in Brownwood, and I believe it will be for the better. … Everybody’s ready for a change — fresh ideas.
“We (challengers) have been on the outside looking in. We got our foot in the door and it’s time to get in and get to work.”
McMillian said he is actually relieved at his loss. McMillian had said he would not seek a new term, but then changed his mind and filed for re-election. Saturday night, McMillian said he regretted changing his mind and running for another term.
“(Jones) will do a good job. He’s a friend. … My heart wasn’t in it,” McMillian said. “I’m not disappointed. Maybe I should be, but I’m not.”
McMillian said he knew he’d have a tough time winning re-election but said he was shocked that Chastain and Lockwood lost.
“I can go back to being a full-time plumber,” McMillian said. “All the guys that got elected tonight — they’re good men.”
Carl McMillan said he had no criticism of Chastain but had wanted to offer voters a choice. He said he’d felt obligated to run when asked to do so in order to “give something back to the community.”
“Grady is a longtime resident of Brownwood and a good guy,” McMillan said.
McMillan also said, “There’s been a little controversy … the firing of the city manager and withholding the reasons — that did raise some questions. I think that had something to do with it.”
He said one of the new council’s first priorities will be finding a city manager.
Chastain could not be reached for comment.
“I think the people have spoken, as they say,” DeHay said. “The general sentiment in the community was that it was time for a change, and by offering them a choice, we gave them the opportunity to make the change …”
DeHay said some voters seemed to have some “fairly specific dissatisfaction” but he also heard a general sentiment that voters wanted “new blood, some new chemistry.”
Voters had questions about issues including infrastructure, the fire and police departments and economic development, DeHay said.
He said a “group think mentality” often exists when people have worked together for awhile, and “to a certain degree, this council had that mentality. That’s not unusual.”
Lockwood said, “I think people were ready for a change and I certainly congratulate my opponent for winning. I think he’ll do a tremendous job. We did our best … it’s been a good 10 years.”
The past 12 months, though, have been “kind of a tough year … and these types of (controversies) play into it to a degree,” Lockwood said.
He said he is proud of the council’s recent accomplishments including the growth of the retail sector.
“I’m going to miss it,” Lockwood said.