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Tomas Gonzalez/DRC

Duff, Meltzer head to runoff in District 3

Two familiar faces and one new one are heading to the Denton City Council after Saturday's local election. But a third City Council race is headed to a runoff. 

Gerard Hudspeth, Keely Briggs and John Ryan won seats in Districts 1, 2 and 4, respectively. Neither Don Duff nor Paul Meltzer secured enough votes to win outright in District 3, so they face each other in a runoff election on June 10. 

District 3

Denton County native son Jason Cole was a late entry in District 3. Despite broad support from the business and real estate community, he couldn't catch up to his opponents. He left the three-way race empty-handed Saturday. 

"It was fun. I learned a lot and I'm glad I did it," Cole said. 

Instead, retired businessman Meltzer and real estate agent Duff must settle in a runoff  June 10. 

Meltzer started his run for District 3 last fall, before current council member Kathleen Wazny announced she was selling her Denton home and moving to Austin. Even though Duff soon joined the race, Meltzer had his ground game going and parlayed support across District 3, including support in Robson Ranch, a retirement community in southwestern Denton.  

Don Duff, left, listens carefully to Kathleen Wazny read early election results for District 3 at Wildhorse Grill, Lounge & Bar, Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Denton.Jeff Woo/DRC
Don Duff, left, listens carefully to Kathleen Wazny read early election results for District 3 at Wildhorse Grill, Lounge & Bar, Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Denton.
Jeff Woo/DRC

Duff said he was disappointed in his turnout at Robson Ranch, where he lives and runs his business that specializes in reselling homes.

"I got less than 50 percent and my very liberal opponent got more by hiding how liberal he is," Duff said.  "I have people out here who are going to be knocking on their friends' doors and I'm going to hit Denton, too." 

Just 140 votes separated the two men in unofficial results Saturday night. Meltzer won four of seven precincts as well as 21 percent of the vote in Precinct 4003, the home precinct for Robson Ranch. 

Duff won Precinct 4003 with 1,204 votes, but garnered just 35 votes total across the rest of District 3. 

Meltzer said the campaign has been fun and he's ready for more, both in spreading his message for smart growth, fiscal discipline and in bringing the city together. 

Paul Meltzer, right, speaks with Ken Wiggenton, left, and Eric Meisner, right, after the polls close on election night. Tomas Gonzalez/DRC
Paul Meltzer, right, speaks with Ken Wiggenton, left, and Eric Meisner, right, after the polls close on election night. 
Tomas Gonzalez/DRC

"We are so encouraged," he said. "We look forward to helping bring District 3 and Denton together. One of our core themes has been building community consensus." 

Votes counted through Saturday included all the mail-in ballots that arrived along with any provisional ballots cast during early voting, said Frank Phillips, Denton County elections administrator. 

However, any provisional ballots cast Saturday won't be reflected in the vote totals until final results are posted next week, Phillips said. In addition, elections officials sent 10 ballots to military personnel overseas, and those ballots still have five days to arrive and be counted.

District 1 

Gerard Hudspeth handily defeated Emily White and Fran Hawes to replace Kevin Roden in District 1. Roden has reached his term limits. 

Gerard HudspethCourtesy photo
Gerard Hudspeth
Courtesy photo

A Denton native and longtime resident of the district, Hudspeth pledged to bring more transparency to the City Council's workings and focus the city's budget on its core services: public safety, roads, parks and libraries. He was the only candidate this spring to secure endorsements from the police and fire associations.

Hudspeth ran a spirited race, walking District 1 neighborhoods in central and southeastern Denton and talking to the voters. Voter turnout in the district increased 68 percent from two years ago, the last time District 1 had a contested race.  

"I'm excited about the increase [in turnout]," Hudspeth said. "We really need to be more active in District 1 and I have ideas to bring people in." 

"I'm ready to get to work," he added. 

White said she didn't know as many people in District 1 neighborhoods as she did elsewhere in the city, so she focused her campaign to meet that challenge. 

"We all — Fran, Gerard and I — worked hard to talk about District 1-centric issues," White said. 

Hawes did not return a call for comment.  

District 4

Former City Council member John Ryan outpaced Denton native and businesswoman Amanda Servis to replace Joey Hawkins in District 4. 

Hawkins survived a recall election last year, but decided not to seek a third term. 

John Ryan watches the television screen as early voting numbers come in on election night in his home, Saturday, May 6, 2017, Denton. Tomas Gonzalez/DRC
John Ryan watches the television screen as early voting numbers come in on election night in his home, Saturday, May 6, 2017, Denton. 
Tomas Gonzalez/DRC

Ryan previously served a half-term in District 2, but lost a re-election bid to Briggs in 2015. He moved to his new home in the Forrestridge neighborhood about 18 months ago and filed to represent Denton's southern neighborhoods. 

Ryan said he was relieved, ecstatic and happy for the win, even though he knows how much work is ahead.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. 

Servis did not return a call for comment. 

District 2

Keely Briggs received an eye-popping amount of votes in her unopposed bid for re-election. It is likely that Proposition 1 — the controversial citizens' initiative that will freeze city property taxes for homeowners with disabilities and age 65 and older — drove voters to the polls citywide.

This year, her total of  1,743 votes exceeded the total number of votes cast in the District 2 contest two years ago — by 559 votes.  

Staff writers Britney Tabor and Jenna Duncan contributed to this report. 

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. 

FEATURED PHOTO: Gerard Hudspeth speaks with Jennifer Engelbrecht at the American Legion Senior Center after the polls closed. Hudspeth won a seat in District 1 on the Denton City Council.