Every politician will tell you that every vote counts. Each year we see commercials from political campaigns and nonprofit groups urging people to exercise their right to vote. The words of those campaigns never rang more true than they did in Ballinger during the elections this month.
Sam Mallory had served as Ballinger mayor since 2011 and was widely expected to win by a landslide in the 2019 election. But challenger Dawni Seymore threw her hat in the proverbial ring and ran an uphill campaign against Mallory. At the end of the day, when all of the votes were counted, Seymore would win by a mere three votes, 281-278.
In the mayoral election in Ballinger in 2017, a total of 438 cast ballots, with 331 of those going to Mallory and 107 going ot the challenger. The 569 votes cast in the mayor race this time around were 131 more votes more than that 2017 race. With that being said, there are over 3,000 people in the city of Ballinger that are voting age and could have cast votes in the mayor race. And yet it came down to just 3 votes, the determining factor between helping to govern the city for the next 2 years or packing up and going home to watch from the sidelines for those same 2 years.
In the last 13 months, the Ballinger city council meetings have had record attendance due to the city’s budget issues dating back to 2016, city employee grievances with current city manager Tommy Turney and water issues. Over 160 people have attended some of the council meetings and the lines between those on various respective sides of topics have widened into a significant divide. Groups of people aligned themselves with various council members, the mayor and Turney and any progress was stemmed by the time it took to address the same issues time and again.
Seymore moved to Ballinger 2 years ago and has attended the council meetings and listened to the opinions of citizens around town. Seymore said that she was somewhat surprised at winning the race for mayor, “In a way I was surprised and in another way I wasn’t because I knew that people in Ballinger wanted change and that there were issues with the current city administration.” Seymore was asked if she saw any additional pressure being the first woman elected as mayor of Ballinger, “No, I don’t feel any additional pressure. I’m going to jump in with both feet and my whole heart. The goal is always to do what is best for Ballinger.”
With the myriad of recent issues concerning the city, from the budget to the water, Seymore was asked what she saw as the most pressing, “I think that the budget is the most pressing matter. That has to be addressed first and foremost. We also need to bring people together. We need people to come together for the city because we need support to work on the budget. We have to come together. The political race is over and now is the time for people to put aside personal agendas and do what is best for the city. We need to get our budget and our town back on track.”
Seymore said that her religion is the foundation of her life, “I am a very strong Christian. I’m strong in my faith but I don’t dislike other people who don’t believe the way that I do. I look at it as we’re all the children of God.” Seymore also plans on being out at public events in the community, “I am fully committed to being mayor. One of the main duties I have is to be the face and voice of the community. I’m committed to my role as mayor. I’m committed to showing up at our events and around town. I will speak openly to the public, to the media and I will lead the charge to do what we need to do.”
Even though Seymore doesn’t have children in school in Ballinger, she recently spoke to the school district about helping the students in In School Suspension (ISS), “I want to be involved in ISS. I know the importance of coming in and not judging people. I just want to help the kids in ISS. I spoke to the person in charge of ISS and we’re going to make that happen.”
Seymore says that transparency is key to the city council, “The city needs to be completely transparent in all of its dealings. That is imperative.” Seymore says that she is ready to tackle the job, “I’m excited. I feel charged and ready to plow forward. I’m looking forward to moving us forward as a city and a community. It’s going to be a challenge but I’m not afraid to work and I’m not afraid of challenges. I’m very nice but I’m also tough as nails. You can face serious challenges but with God, you can do anything and come out on the other side and no one can take that from you. It’s not always easy or pretty, but you can do it.”
One area that Seymore says that they can make strides in is the business of the city, “My priorities are God, family and community. I’m all about getting the job done. You can’t let people sway you back and forth from one side to the other. Running the city is about business and not about emotions. We have tough decisions to make and we need unity. We all need to come together for one goal: to do what is best for Ballinger. That means that you have to draw a hard line and stick to it. We can’t have friends and family sway business decisions. There will be tough times and you can’t base your decisions on emotions. It’s about business and we may have tough decisions to make.”
Seymore will be sworn in at the council meeting on November 18th.