Several last-minute candidates filed to run for elected positions across McLennan County on Monday as the filing deadline period came to a close, resulting in multiple people running for several positions, and an announcement that one person would no longer run for the County Commissioner Precinct 2 commissioner’s seat.

Five people are vying for the county commissioner Precinct 2 seat currently held by longtime Commissioner Lester Gibson and another four are running for district attorney, among 11 contested races.

Three candidates are also running for the justice of the peace, Precinct 1, Place 1 seat. The incumbents for Texas House of Representatives Districts 56, Texas House, District and 12 and U.S. Rep. District 17 also all face challengers. Another 17 elected posts are uncontested.

The last day to register to vote is Feb. 5.

Bellmead City Councilman Travis Gibson, a Democrat, late Monday announced he would not file to run for his father’s seat on the county commissioners court. Precinct 2 Commissioner Lester Gibson plans to vacate the seat he’s held for 28 years at the end of his current term. Travis Gibson announced in September his intent to run for the seat. However, on Monday he put his support behind Democrat Patricia “Pat” Chisolm-Miller, who has served as Lester Gibson’s administrative assistant for more than two decades.

Travis Gibson, 46, a special education inclusion teacher and a football and powerlifting coach at University High School, said he had to look at what was best for the Democratic Party and the community. Community, not a position of leadership, should come first, Gibson said.

“God has his way of timing things,” he said. “We have to come together as one.”

Gibson said he did not want a perception of division within the party by running against someone he’s known since he was 15 years old.

Three other Republicans and one other Democrat are also challenging for the position.

Republicans Gina Ford, 44, of Axtell; Donis “D.L.” Wilson, 52, of Mart; and Vernon Davis, 58, of Waco, filed to run. Democrat Norman Manning, 67, of Waco, a truck driver and Waco Independent School District trustee, also filed to run for the position.

Davis filed late Monday.

Davis is a local real estate broker, insurance adjuster and rancher. He said he felt he had more to offer than the other candidates who filed for the seat, so he decided to run.

“My professional background and training qualifies me much better than the opponents and I think I can bring a better representation to the commissioners court with the skills for the precinct and help modernize the commissioners court and the entire system,” he said.

Davis said if elected he would limit himself to running for two terms. He said if an elected official can’t make progress in eight years, they need to move on, and fresh blood is a good way to avoid a lack of development. Davis said he’s invested in East Waco and downtown for about 35 years.

“I’ve got skin in the game. Everything I’ve done in my life is my skin, not somebody else’s,” he said.

Davis said he has served as chair of the Ethics, Education and Real Estate Inspector Committees for the Texas Real Estate Commission, where he has also received training in federal and state grant writing, which helps to return government money to taxpayers. He’s also worked on the Texas Gulf Coast to repair community infrastructure and help school districts open their doors in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Another late filer Monday was George Horsley, 50, with the Libertarian Party, according to a member of the party. Horsley filed to run for the county judge seat.

Incumbent Scott Felton, 73, a Republican from Hallsburg, and Rick Allen, 64, a Democrat from Waco, have also filed to run for the county judge seat.

Horsley could not be reached by deadline.

The contested races include:

County Judge

  • Scott Felton, 73, Republican, of Hallsburg
  • Rick Allen, 64, Democrat, of Waco
  • George Horsley, 50, Libertarian Party

County Commissioner Precinct 2

County Commissioner Precinct 4

  • Mel Priest, 53, Republican, of Waco
  • Ben Perry, 55, Republican, of Waco

Constable, Precinct 1

  • Walt Strickland, 65, Republican, of Waco
  • Anwar Elboustani, 34, Libertarian, of Hewitt

Constable, Precinct 3

  • David A. Maler, 51, Republican, of West
  • Danny Lee Volcik, 72, Republican, of Waco

District Attorney

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Place 1

  • Denny Lessman, 45, Republican, of Hewitt
  • Dianne Hensley, 66, Republican, of Waco
  • David Reichert, 42, Libertarian, of Waco

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Place 2

  • W.H. “Pete” Peterson, 66, Republican, of Hewitt
  • Lauren Daugherty, 34, Libertarian, of Waco

Texas House, District 56

Texas House, District 12

U.S. Rep. District 17

Uncontested races include:

54th District Court Judge

  • Matt Johnson, 54, Republican, of Waco

170th District Court Judge

  • Jim Meyer, 67, Republican, of Waco

414th District Court Judge

  • Vicki L. Menard, 58, Republican, of Waco

County Clerk

  • Andy Harwell, 53, Republican, of Waco

County Treasurer

  • Bill Helton, 66, Republican, of Waco

County Court at Law No. 1

  • Vikram “Vik” Deivanayagam, 46, Republican, of Woodway

County Court at Law No. 2

  • Brad Cates, 62, Republican, of Woodway

Constable Place 1, Precinct 2

  • John W. Johnson, 67, Democrat, of Waco

Constable, Precinct 4

  • Stan Hickey, 69, Republican, of Crawford

Constable Precinct 5

  • Freddie Cantu, 62, Democrat, of Waco

District Clerk

  • Jon R. Gimble, 41, Republican, of Waco

Justice of the Peace Precinct 2

  • James E. Lee, Jr., Democrat, of Waco

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3

  • David W. Pareya, 65, Republican, of West

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4

  • Brian Richardson, 56, Republican, of China Spring

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5

  • Fernando M. Villarreal, 61, Democrat, of Waco

McLennan County Republican Party Chair

  • Jon R. Ker, 70, Republican, of Valley Mills

McLennan County Democratic Party Chair

  • Mary Duty, 67, Democrat, of Waco

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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