McLennan County residents voting in the March 3 Republican or Democratic primaries will have no shortage of candidates to choose from in their party’s nomination for the U.S. District 17 congressional seat.

The House of Representatives seat to be vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores has drawn 16 contenders from the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties.

Additionally, voters will see a U.S. Senate contest for the seat held by John Cornyn, several county races and their state representative places on the 2020 ballot, as well as the state Senate District 22 seat, currently held by Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury.

The crowded field vying for the House District 17 seat includes 12 Republicans, three Democrats and a Libertarian.

Several Waco residents are seeking the Republican nomination for the congressional seat, including David M. Saucedo, real estate agent Kristen Alamo Rowin, Brazos Eye Surgery of Texas co-owner Renee Swann, and Scott Bland, a former U.S. Secret Service agent who runs the Jim Bland Construction Co.

Robinson real estate agent Laurie Godfrey McReynolds also filed to seek the Republican nomination for the District 17 seat.

The other Republican congressional candidates include:

  • former Dallas-area U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions
  • Austin-based financial adviser Ahmad Adnan
  • Pflugerville-based aerospace engineer and business owner George Hindman
  • College Station-based Marine Corps veteran Trent Sutton
  • former Texas A&M University professor Todd Kent
  • former College Station City Councilwoman Elianor Vessali
  • and retired U.S. Army Col. Jeff Oppenheim.

Oppenheim filed late Monday. A College Station resident, he is a licensed professional engineer who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy West Point. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division, 3rd Infantry Division, NATO, the Pentagon and in Afghanistan. He holds two master’s degrees, one in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College and the other in public administration from Harvard University.

The candidates who filed to seek the Democratic nomination for the congressional seat include longtime McLennan County resident and Marine Corps veteran David Jaramillo, and Rick Kennedy, a software engineer from Travis County who opposed Flores in the 2018 election.

Also seeking the Democratic nomination to the seat is William Foster III, who grew up in Hearne. Foster, who filed Nov. 27, has been a NASA employee, math instructor at Houston Community College and Prairie View A&M University, and a teacher at Houston and Aldine school districts, according to a press release.

Libertarian Ted Brown, who lives in northern Travis County, announced Monday he would run for the U.S. District 17 seat, as well. Brown is an insurance claims adjuster who has been active with the Libertarian Party for many years, according to a press release.

In the race for the District 22 Texas Senate seat, Birdwell, the Republican incumbent since 2010, is seeking another four-year term. He likely will face a general election challenge from Robert Vick of Granbury, who has filed for the Democratic primary.

Vick began his political career in Georgia after becoming a U.S. Army commissioned officer in 1967, according to the Texas Democrats website. He served as executive director of the Sumter County Democratic Party from 1971 to 1972. After moving to Texas, Vick served as precinct chairman and as campaign manager on multiple campaigns. He is the former Hood County Democratic Party chairman and currently serves as precinct chairman.

Incumbent Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-Bryan, has drawn no challengers for his state District 12 seat. He filed for the Republican primary, seeking another two-year term in the state Legislature, where he represents an area that stretches from McLennan to Brazos counties.

Charles “Doc” Anderson, who represents McLennan County in Texas House District 56, filed for the Republican primary, seeking another two-year term in the state Legislature.

Katherine Turner-Pearson filed for the Democratic nomination for Texas House District 56 last week, hoping to challenge Anderson again. Anderson defeated her in the 2018 election with 65.8% of the vote.

A registered professional archaeologist and owner of Central Texas Archaeological Resources, Turner-Pearson serves as the volunteer archaeologist for the Waco Hispanic Museum at La Pila Fountain excavation, a historic fountain in the bygone Calle Dos neighborhood of Waco.

State Board of Education District 14 member Sue Melton-Malone, R-Robinson, is seeking reelection for her seat in the Republican primary. The retired educator has served since 2013 in a district that includes McLennan, Bosque, Coryell, Lampasas and Navarro counties. Maria Y. Berry, of Woodway, filed Monday to challenge Melton-Malone in the Republican primary.

Greg Alvord, a computer scientist from Aubrey, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat.

McLennan County

In McLennan County, three races drew multiple contenders: the 19th District Court judge seat and the McLennan County Commissioner Precinct 1 and Precinct 3 positions.

Four people have filed for the Republican primary for the district judge seat, including Michael Flynn, Susan Kelly, Thomas West and Kristi DeCluitt.

Ralph Strother, judge of 19th State District Court for 20 years, will retire at the end of his term in December 2020. The court is one of two in the county that primarily handle felony criminal cases.

DeCluitt, 48, is a Waco assistant city attorney and former justice of the peace. She has been an assistant city attorney in Waco since May 2016. Before that she served as McLennan County justice of the peace for Precinct 1, Place 1, from April 2006 to January 2015.

West, 54, is a former McLennan County prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney.

Kelly is a defense attorney and former McLennan County prosecutor.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, got on the ballot by going door-to-door to collect at least 500 signatures in lieu of paying the $1,500 filing fee. Flynn joined the Army in 1983, graduated from Baylor University Law School in 1988 and served as an Army lawyer until 2016, including tours in Bosnia and Iraq.

For County Commissioner Precinct 1, Robert Cervenka, Jim Smith, Chrissy Brault and Roger Salinas have filed for the Republican primary.

Former Waco City Councilwoman Alice Rodriguez filed for the Democratic primary Friday, seeking the party nomination for County Commissioner Precinct 1. Baylor University student Miriam Laeky also filed for the Democratic primary.

Incumbent Kelly Snell, 60, has decided not to seek reelection after three terms representing Precinct 1, which includes parts of Waco, Beverly Hills, Robinson, Golinda, Lorena, Bruceville-Eddy and Moody.

Brault, 33, has served as Snell’s administrative assistant since 2012 and has said she believes her experience in the commissioner’s office would provide a seamless transition for the precinct’s constituents with no interruptions in services.

Cervenka, 64, has said he would bring 35 years of city government experience to the commissioners court. A Baylor University graduate with a master’s degree in geology and a lifelong McLennan County resident, Cervenka is a consultant for cities and developers and has worked with the cities of West and Bellmead. He was Robinson’s city manager from 2009 to 2016.

Smith, 71, worked in the Robinson Independent School District for 34 years, including 11 years as a principal and 13 as superintendent. Smith retired from the district in 2003 and shortly thereafter spent eight years, or four terms, on the Robinson City Council. He has also been a reserve deputy sheriff for 38 years.

Salinas, a Bruceville-Eddy resident, is a self-employed masonry contractor, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Filings in the Precinct 3 commissioner race include incumbent Will Jones, who has filed for a third four-year term, and George Brinegar, vice chairman of the McLennan County Republican Party. W. Leslie Long, a mortgage loan officer and real estate broker who lives in West, also filed for the seat.

Brinegar, 58, is a native of McLennan County who retired from the U.S. Army in 2010 after 28 years of service. He is the co-owner and cofounder of Searles Brinegar Family Home Care.

Republican incumbents Parnell McNamara, McLennan County Sheriff, and Randy Riggs, McLennan County Tax Assessor-Collector, have drawn no challengers.

Get Trib headlines sent directly to you, every day.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Brooke Crum joined the Tribune-Herald as the education reporter in January 2019. She has worked for the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri, Abilene Reporter-News, Beaumont Enterprise and the Port Arthur News. Crum graduated from TCU in Fort Worth.

Recommended for you

Load comments