Roller Coaster Ride Ends for County Judge Elect - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

11/08/06 - Nacogdoches

Roller Coaster Ride Ends for County Judge Elect

by Donna McCollum

Joe English began his wait surrounded by supporters at the Republican Party headquarters, but by his victory interview, just about everyone had gone home. "It was a lot longer than I had anticipated," said English, as people began cleaning up after the gathering. It was, perhaps a fitting end to a campaign that began a year ago.

English compares the race to a roller coaster ride. "Some days, you feel like you're at the top. Other days, you feel like you're at the bottom, and other days, you feel like you take a big turn and you don't know exactly where you're at."  That's how English felt election night. He didn't have the benefit of seeing returns as they were counted. Not one counted vote was announced until after 11 p.m.

Despite high speed electronic voting equipment, the results were delayed when write-in votes for his opponent, Harlon Brooks, had to be counted and verified by hand. A state election inspector, requested by English, observed 15 people sorting and counting the write-ins. Election administrator Debra Gaston said, "The election equipment, while it's wonderful and really speeds up the process -- it can't determine voter intent."

Voter intent was clear. Over 7400 people voted for English, more than twice the number of votes that Brooks received. Predictions of a close race were way off. English said, "I had predicted 60/40."   Brooks' 20/20 hindsight told him, "I think if we had been on the ballot, it would have been a much closer race."

Both candidates complimented each other for running a clean race. Both men plan to work for Nacogdoches County's future, only from different capacities.

Brooks, a restaurant owner, said "I want to see our town grow. I want to see our town get what it needs to be the Nacogdoches we want it to be."

English, a hospital lab manager, said, "I still plan on attending the commissioner court meetings. In fact, I was at the meeting last Monday, and I'll continue to do that. I hope to be able to work with the commissioner's court between now and then." English says he's now coasting into January.

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