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Runoffs needed in 2 JP races

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan and John D. Harden
By Jenna Duncan and John D. Harden

Challenger Hammons ousts Constable Flores

Two contentious justice of the peace races in Denton County are headed to a runoff and an incumbent constable was defeated in Tuesday’s Republican primary election.

In complete but unofficial returns, incumbent Precinct 1 Constable Jesse Flores lost his bid to keep the seat against challenger Johnny Hammons, who had 65.4 percent of the vote to Flores’ 34.6 percent.

In the Precinct 4 justice of the peace race, incumbent J.W. Hand led a four-man field but with just 39.0 percent of the vote, he did not get the more than 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff. He will face attorney Harris Hughey, who had 26.6 percent, in the May 27 GOP runoff. Candidates Al Filidoro had 17.5 percent and Scott Smith had 17 percent.

And the wide-open race for Precinct 5 justice of the peace — with six candidates vying to replace outgoing incumbent Mike Bateman — is headed for a runoff, with no candidate drawing more than 23 percent in early returns. Complete but unofficial returns showed Cynthia Mitchell, 41, squaring off against district attorney’s investigator Mike Oglesby, 54, in a runoff.

Justices of the peace in Denton County receive a salary of about $74,800 annually and serve four-year terms. Constables receive a salary of $77,977. No Democrats filed in any of the justice of the peace or constable races.

Here’s a rundown of the results from Tuesday’s election.

JP Precinct 4

Hand, 77, was unable to get a majority vote against his three challengers and will now face Hughey in the runoff.

“I’m grateful that enough voters got me this far, and I’m hoping they’ll get me the rest of the way,” Hand said late Tuesday.

Hughey is a newcomer to area politics, and said he is excited about heading into the runoff.

“We still have work to do ahead of us, but I’m humbled the voters had the confidence in me and we’ll keep pushing forward to improve that court.” Hughey said.

Filidoro, 61, an attorney and associate law professor from Flower Mound, had the backing of several other area Republicans and raised more money than Hand, but drew only 17.5 percent and did not make the runoff. Candidate Scott Smith, 59, of Trophy Club, trailed with 7 percent.

JP Precinct 5

The packed six-person race for the Precinct 5 justice of the peace seat was tight. Cynthia Mitchell, 41, and Mike Oglesby, 54, held their leads to make the runoff election on May 27.

Close behind by the two frontrunners were Paul Moore with 18.1 percent of the vote and Danny Spindle with 18.4 percent of the vote.

Mitchell, the Denton county clerk, said she’s pleased that she’s moving forward. She led the pack with 23.4 percent of the vote to Oglesby’s 19.1 percent, but said that the race was worse this year than it has ever been.

“And the Republican Party in the county should be ashamed of itself because of the dirty politics some decided to play,” she said. “From day one I was the target of several political and negative attacks from my opponents and from a legal standpoint, many were slanderous.”

Mitchell, who anticipated a runoff, said her campaign strategy moving forward will not change, but added that it may be easier moving forward against one opponent instead of five.

Other challengers for the seat included Denton resident Michael Anthony Brucia, 54, president of Double M Vending Inc., who got 11.3 percent, and Michael Sweet, 54, police detective, who drew 9.8 percent of the vote.

Mitchell praised Oglesby’s clean campaign run and referred to him as one of the better candidates in the race.

Calls to Oglesby were not returned by press time Tuesday night, but Mitchell said she looks forward to the race against him.

“Oglesby is the nicest man and I don’t have anything negative to say about him,” she said. “If it’s decided that we move forward into the runoff, the winner will be chosen based on merit and on which candidate can get the most voters to the polls.”

JP Precinct 6

In the justice of the peace Precinct 6 race, newcomer Gary Blanscet toppled challenger Tom Washington with 52.8 percent of the vote, according to complete but unofficial returns.

Washington secured 47.2 percent of the vote.

The race marked the first time Blanscet has been elected to a position, and he said he was humbled and honored by the turnout.

“You never know what to expect until the numbers come in,” he said. “I felt that we had a good race and I had a lot of people working me and there were very helpful in helping with the win. “

Blanscet, 63, an attorney also from Carrollton, served as mayor of Carrollton from 1994 to 1996 and as a Carrollton City Council member from 1986 to 1994.

Washington couldn’t be reached for comment, but Blanscet said Washington called him shortly after 10:30 p.m. to congratulate him on the win.

Both men said that he the experience and background to run the precinct, but each cited various strengths that they possessed that the other did not.

Washington, 57, a certified public accountant and real estate broker from Carrollton, entered the race with the idea to provide sound leadership and the analytical problem-solving he’s developed as a businessman.

Blanscet said he looks forward to serving the community and that residents in Precinct 6 can expect someone who will exercise common sense and honor what the county represents.

During his campaign he vowed to provide and demand equal justice for all who appear for their day in court and to use interpersonal skills coupled with an ability to be open-minded and fair to all who will appear before him.

Precinct 1 constable

In another contentious race, for Precinct 1 constable, Johnny Hammons, 50, swept incumbent Jesse Flores, 44, by taking 65.4 percent of the vote.

Flores took the constable seat in May 2013 after the death of Constable Jim Dotson in late 2012. When Flores took office, Hammons was a deputy constable and said Flores fired him.

Now, Hammons said he is excited to continue the legacy of Dotson and make the office more fiscally conservative again.

“I just look forward to getting into the office and serving the citizens of Precinct 1 to the best of my ability, and to be the constable they can be proud of,” he said. “I’ve been at the polls every day from open to close since early voting began, I’ve talked to thousands of people, and I’ve had such a good reception, it was just phenomenal.”

Flores, who previously worked as an officer with the Lewisville Police Department for 21 years, said he plans to complete his term through Dec. 31 to the best of his ability.

“I just want to thank all my friends, family and supporters for the entire process,” Flores said. “I have no regrets and I plan to finish the rest of my term out, which finishes on Dec. 31, still pushing forward and providing the best services possible to the citizens.”

Constables are certified peace officers with the same law enforcement powers as police officers and often participate actively in criminal investigations.

Precinct 1 serves Denton, Shady Shores, Lake Dallas, Corinth and Hickory Creek. Constables earn a yearly salary of $77,977, according to Denton County budget director Donna Stewart.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.