After a long fight spanning a primary election and a runoff, incumbent Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson emerged victorious Tuesday over Lantana attorney Karen Alexander.
Johnson drew 56 percent of the vote to Alexander’s 44 percent in complete but unofficial returns in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff election.
Incumbent Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace J.W. Hand also narrowly pulled out a win over challenger Harris Hughey. Hand edged past Hughey with just 50.5 percent of the vote to Hughey’s 49.5 percent, winning with just a 56-vote margin in complete but unofficial returns.
The open Precinct 5 justice of the peace race was not so close. District attorney investigator Mike Oglesby garnered more than 65 percent of the vote to not quite 35 percent for Cynthia Mitchell with votes in all precincts counted.
The three races were the only local races in the runoff elections, and the winners do not face Democrats in November.
Johnson, 56, who watched the returns at home surrounded by family and friends, said he was humbled by all the support and grateful to voters for looking past the negativity thrown around during the campaign.
“First and foremost, I am appreciative to God, my family and then to the voters who took a look at my record,” Johnson said Tuesday night after all the precincts had reported their vote tallies. “When I ran for DA, I ran for DA, not to attack individuals in my office.
“I am very humbled and don’t take anything for granted, and I really do appreciate each and every vote that was cast. ... We have accomplished a lot so far and still have a lot more to come in the next four years.”
This will be Johnson’s third term in office. Before that, he worked as an assistant district attorney for 15 years and has also been in private practice.
Alexander, 37, wished Johnson the best of luck over the next four years.
“It’s certainly disappointing,” she said of her loss. “I look forward to Paul serving me and the rest of the citizens of Denton County.”
Alexander said she has no regrets and felt it was important that she ran for office.
“If I was able to make it better for one person, or to share my ideas for a program through my campaign to help create a better district attorney’s office, then I did what I set out to do,” she said. “I don’t regret anything and I am glad I ran.”
Precinct 4 justice of the peace
In Precinct 4, incumbent Hand, 77, barely squeaked past Hughey, 55, in a hotly contested race that had turned negative in the final weeks of campaigning.
Hughey held a slight lead most of the night, starting with early voting, but the last two ballot boxes counted turned the tide in Hand’s favor.
“Obviously a win doesn’t sting as bad as a loss,” Hand said late Tuesday. “I am very, very grateful for the people who voted for me and I intend to make them proud. To the people who didn’t vote for me, I promise you will be treated fairly in the courts and we will continue to do a good job for you in the next term.”
Hughey said he sought to take the bench and improve the efficiency of the court, saying taxpayers deserve better.
“We did everything we could possibly do to unseat a two-time incumbent,” Hughey said. “I want to thank everyone who helped in my campaign. I am truly humbled. We got close but we just couldn’t do it.”
Precinct 5 justice of the peace
In the Precinct 5 justice of the peace race, Oglesby, 54, sailed past Mitchell, 41, who had led the five-person pack in the March 4 primary with 23 percent of the vote.
Mitchell had opted against running for re-election as county clerk and instead threw her hat into the crowded race for Precinct 5 justice of the peace.
She conceded the race shortly after the early voting returns came in showing her trailing with less than 35 percent of the vote.
“I’m really excited to be the next JP,” Oglesby said Tuesday after Mitchell’s concession. “I want to thank Cindy for running a good race and wish her luck in the private sector. ... It’s been a long day but it’s been a good one. I had a lot of good support and I am looking forward to being the next justice of the peace.”
Mitchell said she has no regrets and is ready to move on.
“This was something that I wanted to try my hand at,” she said. “We’ll watch Mike. I’m not sure he is the most qualified to do the job and we will watch him to make sure he does a good job. He has a good heart.”
Mitchell said that if nothing else, her campaign kept the other candidates from having a shot at the bench.
“I don’t think Mike could have beaten the other guys outright and none of the other four were qualified at all,” she said. “So, if nothing else, the best guy won and I may have been the only reason that happened. And I am OK with that.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.