WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - On Tuesday, Wichita Falls residents got the chance to vote for Councilor At-Large. Bobby Whitely received 49 percent of the vote and Penny Miller 22 percent.
The two will battle in a runoff election after Whiteley failed to reach the majority by 23 votes. It's expected to be held on December 9th and cost more than $10,000.
In 2006 citizens voted for a majority, or for one person to get at least 51 percent of the vote to win. Prior to that change in the city's charter, a popular vote decided who won. Leaders believe despite the cost, this is the best way to fill all the city seats.
"That's money well spent because it gives us a true representation of what the citizens want in their elected officials," Mayor Stephen Santellana said.
"The community mandated this in 2006," former Mayor Glenn Barham said. "Thus the community has to live by it until it's changed."
The first runoff election was in 2006 and included Barham.
"We had to wait a month and I was fortunate to win that runoff election," Barham said. "Then I spent the next nine and a half years on council."
Barham believes a majority is the best way to decide a winner, despite the cost, because up to six people can run for one position. Mayor Stephen Santellana agrees.
"Maybe the Charles Barr representatives, the people that support him and the Brendan Bell's will be on Penny Miller's side this time," Mayor Santellana said. "And you have an opportunity to draw out more citizens too."
"How would you like an individual that gets 19 or 20 percent to be your representative," he asked. "It's just tough."
District 4 Councilor Jesse Brown said the runoff is in place to protect the citizen's votes. Brown has his own thoughts on the issue.
"We've only had to deal with this one other time in 2007," Councilor Brown said. "It's something we can definitely re-visit."
"It's frustrating to some people, especially the candidates," Mayor Santellana said. "But it just makes common sense when you're really trying to get the best elected official to represent."
Barham, Councilor Brown, and Mayor Santellana all urge people to hit the polls. Barham said it would be great to see a higher turnout for the runoff election than they did on Tuesday.
Barham said the cost of another election is a risk you take when switching to majority rule. Councilor Brown said he is open to having a discussion with the Mayor and other councilors about a possible change in the decision making