LOCAL ELECTIONS

Turnout surges in early voting in Leander mayoral runoff

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A contentious campaign has drawn voters to the polls to elect a new mayor in Leander.

Early voting numbers surged by more than 12 percent, with 1,447 voters casting ballots during the eight days the polls were open. Tuesday, the final day of the early voting period, saw the highest single-day turnout with 258 ballots cast.

The Williamson County Election Commission reports that 5.65 percent of the registered voters eligible to vote in the runoff voted early.

Already, early voting numbers have reached 62 percent of the total vote tally from the May 5 regular election.

Former city council members Troy Hill and Vic Villarreal earned runoff spots after knocking Adam Benefield out of the race in the May 5 general election.
In that race, Hill led early voting and had the highest number of votes, with 42.51 percent of the votes cast in the race to replace outgoing Mayor Chris Fielder, who is stepping aside after serving in that role since 2012.

Villarreal, another former council member, earned 31.85 percent of the vote in the May 5 election, topping Benefield’s 25.64 percent.

The mayoral race, and its subsequent runoff, have drawn the attention of media across Central Texas in recent weeks with police investigating reports of vandalism to Villarreal’s campaign signs and caustic social media posts coming from supporters of both candidates.

The new mayor will join a council that already includes two new members sworn in after the May 5 election. Michelle Stephenson won re-election in the Place 2 seat on May 5, while Christine Sederquist beat incumbent Ron Abruzzese to earn the Place 4 seat. Marci Cannon won the Place 6 seat Troy Hill resigned in order to run for mayor.

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