By Charlotte Aguilar
Susan Sample drew more than double the votes of challenger John Barnes Saturday (May 6), in unofficial results, to notch a second consecutive term as mayor of West University Place — her fourth time leading the city.
When the final tally from Harris County election officials landed after midnight Sunday, it was 1,594 votes for Sample (68 percent) to Barnes’ 756 votes (32 percent).
The election was a continuation — albeit less volatile and costly — of two years ago when PACs and partisanship entered the picture in the race for West U’s nonpartisan local offices.
The mayor got more good news with the election of all three of the council candidates supported by the “West U Residents for Great Leadership” political action committee that also backed her candidacy. Winning council seats were Clay Brett and incumbents John Montgomery and Shannon Carroll — all PAC-favored — along with Matt Hart.
The PAC collected about $11,000, according to its state filing in April, and spent $5,750 of that on support of the four candidates through the services of Axiom Strategies, a nationwide Republican political management firm with West U-Southside Place ties and links to campaigns of Ted Cruz, Glenn Younkin and Ron DeSantis, among many national and local GOP figures.
Buckley Morlot, development director for a conservative Texas think tank — who had been backed by the Harris County Republican Party — failed in her council bid.
Barnes’ gamble to seek the mayor’s job rather than re-election to council fell flat. The two-term councilmember was the only incumbent re-elected in 2021 and in the past two years frequently found himself in the minority or the lone dissenting vote on high-profile council matters. In addition to listing support for the three council candidates and Sample, the “Great Leadership” PAC listed its opposition to Barnes, by name, as required on its campaign finance report. His supporters complained of negative mailings sent to voters, targeting him.
By council tradition, as the top council vote-getter, Montgomery is in line to serve again as mayor pro tem.
In the end, voters were indifferent to choosing West U’s leadership. Only 2,365 ballots were cast, according to Harris County figures — with 80 percent of the city’s 11,418 registered voters sitting out the election. About two-thirds of the votes were cast early, at polling places and by mail.
The final tallies (victors denoted with asterisks):
*Susan Sample (incumbent) 1,594 (68%)
John Barnes 756 (32%)
*Clay Brett 1,545 (21%)
*Shannon Carroll (inc.) 1,573 (22%)
Buckley Morlot 1,004 (14%)
*Matt Hart 1,394 (19%)
*John Montgomery (inc.) 1,776 (24%)