Michael Bancale won with a comfortable margin over Mike Field in a runoff election Saturday to become the next at-large member of the Hewitt City Council.
Bancale received 316 votes or 64.75% of the total, while Field received 172 votes or 35.25%.
Bancale is expected to take the oath of office at the June 17 Hewitt City Council meeting. He said his first major task will be providing input to City Manager Bo Thomas as Thomas compiles a draft budget for the council’s consideration.
“I’ll try to get involved in that process, because that started at the last meeting,” Bancale said. “I want to let him (Thomas) know what the people I’ve talked to have been telling me.”
The primary concern he has heard on the campaign trail is with tax bills growing because of higher property values. He said residents generally do not want the city to cut services but they want officials to be responsible with how they spend.
“I’d like to see what we can do to be a little more efficient with city money,” Bancale said.
He said he tried to visit every Hewitt household with at least one member who voted in the May 4 council election that led to Saturday’s runoff.
His victory follows a low-key campaign in which both candidates pledged to move beyond the personal conflicts that have marked city government over the past year in the town of 14,400.
Though he did not win the seat, Field said he is proud he and Bancale were able to compete without resorting to name-calling or other behavior residents have grown tired of in the past year. He also thanked the people who supported him and congratulated Bancale on his victory. He said he thinks “Mr. Bancale will be an excellent council member.”
Hewitt has remained a great place to live and will move in a good direction with the council that is now in place, said Field, 74, a retired attorney for the Texas Water Commission and Brazos River Authority. Leaders just have to be careful with how they use tax dollars, he said.
“I think after the last election we have a nice slate of people who are willing to work together and move the city in a good direction,” Field said.
He said he likely would not launch another campaign for a council seat down the road, though he will remain engaged in Hewitt’s affairs. He may seek to fill a vacancy on a city board and would be happy to serve if a citizen committee is formed to review proposed changes to the city charter.
Bancale, 56, a Texas Farm Bureau systems administrator, will replace Erica Bruce, who moved from the at-large council seat to the Ward 3 seat in the May 4 election. The election also added newcomer Matthew Mevis and former Hewitt mayor Charlie Turner to the council. The council has since named Turner as mayor.
Bancale said the council is poised to move past the tumult of the past year.
“I’m hoping things will settle down and we will get down to business,” he said.
He also plans to follow through on his pledge to hold regular community meetings. He still needs to work out the details to ensure compliance with open meetings laws, but he would like to hold the meetings monthly to communicate council decisions and take input from residents.
“I want it to be just me and the people,” Bancale said.