Support from a specific-purpose committee may have made the difference for Denton City Council incumbent Pete Kamp and Mayor Mark Burroughs, who both edged out challengers in a runoff election Saturday.
Burroughs commanded 56.2 percent of the vote in a runoff with Neil Durrance, a Denton lawyer and former council member. Durrance got many supporters out on Saturday and closed a gap Burroughs had in early voting. But it was not enough to win. The unofficial tally between the two: Burroughs, 2,505; Durrance, 1,956.
From the incumbents’ point of view, the campaign was hard-fought, but clean, both Burroughs and Kamp said.
Turnout for the runoff told Burroughs that people — particularly those who had not voted in May — believed city leaders had been making good decisions and were sending the city in the right direction.
“Things with the city have been going extremely well considering the difficult economic circumstances,” Burroughs said.
Durrance prepared a statement congratulating Burroughs for retaining his seat on the council and thanking Denton voters for having the confidence to see the issues and vote for him.
“This election shows that lots of money, negative campaigning and having the local newspaper in your hip pocket wins elections,” Durrance said.
David Zoltner got more supporters out Saturday than Kamp, but she held enough of her margin from early voting to win. Unofficially, Kamp secured 2,267 votes to Zoltner’s 2,101.
“Obviously, I’m thrilled,” Kamp said. “I didn’t think the race was going to be as emotional as it was.”
She gave credit to the many people who had worked hard for both her and Burroughs, saying they helped the campaign stay positive.
Four months ago, Zoltner decided to campaign to get issues out in front of the voters, he said. The turnout and the results told him that those issues — particularly, a proposed power plant to be built near Denton Airport and a proposed hotel conference and convention center to be built near the University of North Texas — did concern many voters.
“I’m not disappointed,” Zoltner said. “It’s still game on. Those issues are not going away.”
All the candidates stepped up their fundraising and spending in the final days of the runoff. As of June 13, the specific-purpose committee We Like Denton reported having raised $1,780 and spent $1,059 to support Burroughs and Kamp.
Committee treasurer Doug Chadwick had said the group received about $2,000 in pledges and contributions. Final campaign finance reports are due July 16.
Not only did campaign spending increase, but more people came out to vote in the runoff, both in early voting and on Saturday.
In June, 5.4 percent of Denton’s registered voters cast early ballots in the council races, compared to 3.9 percent in May.
An analysis of the first three days of early voting showed 365 voters who had not cast ballots in May had come out to vote in the runoff. Many of those voters were from District 4, which is generally south and west of central Denton and Interstate 35E.
By the time polls closed Saturday night, elections workers tallied 4,490 ballots in Denton, which represented about 7.8 percent of the city’s registered voters, compared to 6.9 percent in May.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.