Veteran tax office staffer Chris Rivera defeated opponent Kevin Smith 815 to 691 Tuesday in the Republican Party primary runoff to become the next Moore County Tax Assessor-Collector, according to the unofficial results available Wednesday. "I am incredibly grateful for all the support from our community, and I look forward to putting in some hard work and hours in the future," he said Wednesday.
Rivera will be appointed to the office July 29 on an interim basis. He takes over for retiring incumbent Nikki McDonald, whose last day will be July 23. Rivera will serve as interim until his regular term begins in January.
Rivera competed against fellow tax office staffer Lindsey Nicholson and teacher Kevin Smith in the March primary. He came out on top with Smith in second, but since neither Rivera nor Smith won more than 50 percent of the vote, the two had to battle it out in the runoff. The runoff was originally scheduled for May, but it had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Rivera would ordinarily have to face off against a Democratic opponent in the November 5 general election, but because there was no candidate running for the office in the Democratic primary, Rivera will win by default.
Rivera said Wednesday that he did not anticipate making any major changes to the way the tax office operates, except he does intend to return to normal, pre-COVID office hours for the public beginning in August, "as long as the governor doesn't shut us down." The new/old office hours: Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and Friday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.
In other results from Tuesday's election, former Trump and Obama White House physician Ronny Jackson defeated local favorite Josh Winegarner to become the Republican candidate in the fall election for U.S. Representative, District 13. Winegarner won Moore County 777 to 742, but lost in the district as a whole. Jackson will take on Democrat Gus Trujillo, who defeated Greg Sagan Tuesday in the Democratic Party runoff. Trujillo won in Moore County 42 votes to 31. There were only 74 votes cast in the Democratic Party runoff in Moore County. The winner of the Jackson versus Trujillo race will replace the retiring Mac Thornberry in Congress.
Afghanistan War veteran and U.S. Air Force helicopter pilot Mary "MJ" Hegar defeated Royce West in the Democratic Party runoff for U.S. Senate in Moore County and state wide. She will compete against Republican incumbent John Cornyn in the fall.
Incumbent Larry Doss defeated Steven Denny in Moore County and overall for Justice, 7th Court of Appeals, Place 4 in the Republican Party runoff. There will be no Democratic opponent in November, so Doss wins by default and remains in office.
Chrysta Castaneda defeated Roberto R. "Beto" Alonzo in the Democratic Party runoff for Railroad Commissioner, although Alonzo was the favorite of Moore County Democrats 43 to 31. She will face Republican Jim Wright in November.
According to Moore County Clerk Brenda McKanna, only 16 percent of Moore County's 9,828 registered voters cast a ballot in this the first election where masks and social distancing were a factor. Only 144 voters cast a ballot by mail, while early in-person voters and election-day voters were more or less evenly divided 718 to 737 respectively. McKanna said that despite two voters who resisted wearing a mask (she said that while she recommended voters wear a mask, she could not require it) and one who, inexplicably, refused to sanitize his hands before voting during early voting, the vote Tuesday and overall went smoothly. She said the real test for the sanitization and social distancing measures will come in the fall when turnout is expected to be greater with the presidential race on the ballot.