The Hewitt City Council unanimously voted Monday night to appoint returning council veteran Charlie Turner as mayor and Wilbert Wachtendorf as mayor pro tem, in the council’s first meeting since the May 4 election that turned over three seats.

The newly seated council also set June 8 as the runoff date for the at-large seat vacated by Erica Bruce, who now represents Ward 3. Michael S. Bancale, a Farm Bureau systems administrator, and Mike Field, a retired attorney, will face each other after winning the most votes in a five-way election.

Ed Passalugo stepped down as mayor Monday night, after a year of conflict and turbulence among the council and top city staff. Turner, fresh off his victory over incumbent Travis Bailey, will now ease into a 10th term as mayor. Turner, a nonprofit money management specialist, served 22 years on the council, dating back to 1981. He now represents Ward 1.

“Hewitt’s my baby,” Turner said after the meeting. “I love being in Hewitt. My wife and I moved here in 1977. I wanted to come back and work for the city, both city employees and the council.”

Turner said he wants to look toward the future and ensure that the city of 14,400 residents remains a good steward of the public’s tax dollars, while maintaining Hewitt’s streets and infrastructure. With budget season approaching, he wants to avoid a tax increase.

Newcomer Matthew Mevis, an environmental consultant, slid in unopposed to the Ward 2 chair after Councilman James Vidrine chose not to run for reelection. Bruce, who won a highly contested special election for another seat late last year, overwhelmingly defeated A.C. “Tony” Martinez for the Ward 3 seat that was held by Passalugo.

In the at-large race, Bancale led the pack with 245 votes, or 33.7 percent. Mike Field won 197 or 27.1 percent. Other candidates were retired Hewitt city secretary Betty Orton, former city manager Adam Miles and former councilman Kurt Krakowian.

Early voting in the runoff election begins May 28. Voters may cast ballots at the Hewitt Public Safety Facility, 100 Patriot Court, through May 31 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Early voting on June 3 and 4 is from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. at the same location.

Polls are open on Election Day, June 8, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hewitt Public Safety Facility.

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.

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