GOP Court of Commissioners hopefuls make presentation at forum

Primary runoff is complete. The campaigns for the general elections have just started.

But there’s a hotly contested race in Bexar County right now that stands out from every other midterm election we’ve tracked.

It will be completed by the end of this month. It will be decided by only 120 voters. He will present a list of candidates yet to be determined.

The Bexar County Republican Party must find a candidate for the Precinct 3 Court of Commissioners seat that Trish DeBerry vacated last December when she filed to run for county judge.

DeBerry’s decision triggered an election in Precinct 3 of 2022, but came too late to allow for a primary contest.

As a result, the two main parties had to recruit the Constituency Presidents based in Constituency 3 to choose their candidates.

Democrats made their decision months ago, selecting their only declared candidate, longtime party activist Susan Korbel. Republicans decided to wait until after the primaries, so newly elected precinct presidents could have a say in the process.

Given that this North Side-based precinct is the only Republican seat on the Court of Commissioners, it’s no surprise that the GOP nomination is highly coveted.

The party organization fears the nomination race could turn into an every man for himself, with dozens of candidates coming out of nowhere to try to win the seat.

That’s why the party, under new chairman Jeff McManus, is trying to bring some consistency to the process.

On Wednesday evening, the party held a forum at a North Side barbecue restaurant for seven candidates who expressed interest in the nomination. McManus outlined the timeline for the nomination process (selection taking place on June 27) and said all candidates must complete an application form, so that an audit committee can verify their qualifications.

Wednesday’s forum featured three candidates with experience in elected office: Marialyn Barnard, acting appointee in Ward 3, former Councilor Carlton Soules and current Councilor Clayton Perry. It also featured two candidates who ran unsuccessfully for city council (Patrick Von Dohlen and Patty Gibbons) and one with a military and business background (Grant Moody).

Barnard had to answer that she had been nominated by a Democrat, County Judge Nelson Wolff, as an interim nominee, but she turned it to her advantage at the forum.

The former 4th Court of Appeals judge said only six of the 27 people who applied to the county for the interim nomination were Republicans.

“I wanted to fight and keep that seat a Republican seat or else we would have had a Democrat in there,” Barnard said. “And I can tell you now that I was the only one here who applied for the interim position to save this seat.”

Like most forum candidates, Barnard has declared his commitment to curbing property taxes. She pointed to her recent success in getting the Court of Commissioners to approve a $5,000 homestead exemption, the first in county history.

Barnard also made headlines by revealing she secured the votes in the Court of Commissioners to pass a homestead exemption that will cover 20% of the appraised value of homes in Bexar County. She said commissioners would vote on the exemption next Tuesday.

Perry called himself the “only conservative on city council” and “the only one standing up to the mayor (Ron Nirenberg)”.

Perry touted his winning fight in 2019 to secure a $5,000 homestead exemption and his efforts to secure more funding for street and drainage projects.

Soules, who served as a backbone of small government alongside then-mayor Julián Castro a decade ago, jokingly told Perry, “I’ll show you my Julián Castro scars if you show me your Nirenberg.”

Soules recounted his unsuccessful bid for county judge in 2014 in an effort to focus the county on core duties.

“I watched Nelson (Wolff) go from county judge to mayor of Bexar County,” Soules said. “With this change came misdirection in vanity projects, like the streetcar and San Pedro Creek.”

Gibbons has described herself as an activist who is not afraid to take on members of her own party.

Von Dohlen, a persistent crusader against legalized abortion and gay rights, said he stands for “life, liberty, law enforcement and lower taxes.”

The most colorful competitor in the bunch was William “Forklift” Peche, a very spirited Clark Kent lookalike who rocked a red guayabera and presented himself as the working-class underdog in the race.

Peche is a major underdog, sure, but anything is possible in this race.

[email protected] | Twitter: @gilgamesh470

Comments are closed.