Incumbents fend off challenges in Denton races
With final voting results counted, three incumbents retained their seats and a local coffeehouse owner is set to join the Denton City Council.
Local businessman Joey Hawkins, 38, won in District 4, beating Phil Kregel, 28, by a margin of more than a 2-1.
Incumbents Dalton Gregory and Jim Engelbrecht successfully fended off challenges in Districts 2 and 3, while District 1 council member Kevin Roden was unopposed in his bid for re-election.
Even with his victory, Hawkins, who received 504 votes to Kregel’s 208, wished the turnout was higher.
Hawkins garnered a great deal of financial support during the race, raising more than $7,000 for campaign expenses, compared to Kregel, who raised less than $1,500.
New to the political scene, but not to public life, Hawkins touted his volunteer experience while running for office.
He has volunteered for many community groups and has been a member of the Denton Holiday Festival Association board since 2009. The council race is his first foray into Denton city government.
“I know there is a learning curve, and I am ready to get in there and absorb what I can and start working,” Hawkins said.
He replaces outgoing council member Chris Watts. Watts finished his third term this year and, by city charter, wasn’t eligible to run again.
District 4 encompasses much of southern Denton and included Robson Ranch until the city redrew the district boundaries and moved the retirement community into District 3.
Kregel, 28, who works in the mortgage industry, most recently served on the city’s ad hoc committee to implement a smoking ban. Kregel ran for City Council twice before, once in 2009 as a write-in candidate and again in 2010 as one of five vying for the at-large seat won by current council member James King.
“I think those numbers explain it all,” Kregel said of the voting results. “ I called Joey earlier, when the early votes were announced, knowing the deficit was rather grim. I think he will put a lot of good effort into it like he does everything else and bring a good perspective to the council.”
Dalton Gregory easily won a third term on the City Council in District 2, crushing his opponents, Alfredo F. Sanchez and Travis Trawick, by winning nearly 80 percent of the vote.
When the 61-year-old retired educator is sworn in later this month, it will be his final oath for District 2. The city charter prohibits an individual from serving more than three consecutive terms before requiring them to wait one year before running again.
Gregory could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Sanchez, 61, a Denton landlord and retired wildlife biologist, campaigned for City Council as his wife, Prudence Sanchez, campaigned for a spot on the Denton school board.
Sanchez said he was disappointed not seeing a lot of people getting out to vote.
“Dalton has a pretty good record,” he said. “He’s got a good name and it’s hard to beat someone with a lot of name recognition at this point. I don’t know what I could have done different.”
Trawick, a University of North Texas student, 24, filed for the seat, but stopped actively campaigning early in the race.
Jim Engelbrecht managed to prevail in a three-man race for the District 3 council seat.
A retired businessman, Engelbrecht, 65, garnered almost 65 percent of the vote to suppress a challenge from a local technology consultant, Brendan Carroll, 43, and 21-year-old UNT student Griffen Rice.
“I’m pleased to be able to serve the community for another two years. It means a great deal to me,” Engelbrecht said. “At the end of this two years I will have spent 15 years on the planning commission and the City Council, and I don’t regret a day of it. It’s a great community of people who are bright and engaged and interested in the community, and it’s fun to work with all the different sectors of the community.”
Carroll said he had been hoping to give the incumbent a better challenge.
“I think there is an expectation that a relative newcomer to the political scene will have a pretty tough battle against an incumbent,” Carroll said. “So I think I did fairly well, especially when there wasn’t a whole lot to motivate voters this time. While I am certainly disappointed, I am not completely surprised.”
Since redistricting, District 3 includes Robson Ranch, a retirement community of more than 1,400 homes, as well as many new multi-story student apartment buildings. The district also includes many of the small ranches on the western edge of town and Westpark, the city’s growing industrial park.
Rice could not be reached for comment.
Staff writer Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe contributed to this report.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjLewisDRC.