By Charlotte Aguilar
When filing closed Friday evening (Feb. 17), West University found itself with a full blown election on May 6 — contested races both for mayor and for City Council that will decide the entire makeup of the counciltable for the next two years.
Up until the last day, it appeared as if there might not be enough candidates to fill the four vacant council seats, with only three residents having filed — but two additional contenders submitted their paperwork to City Secretary Thelma Gilliam by the 5 p.m. deadline.
The ballot will be finalized a week from today with a drawing for position in Gilliam’s office at 5 p.m.
For mayor, incumbent Susan Sample is being challenged by John Barnes. She served on City Council from 2011-15 and as mayor from 2015-19 before being term limited. She was returned to the mayor’s post in 2021 after sitting out the requisite two years. Barnes is currently serving his second term on City Council. Both candidates are attorneys.
Running for council are John Montgomery, incumbent councilmember and mayor pro tem and an executive with an independent natural gas production firm; Clay Brett, an investment specialist and partner with Millennial Energy Partners; and incumbent councilmember Shannon Carroll, a senior insurance litigation adjuster.
After Montgomery and Brett jumped into the race first, Carroll filed last Friday, with no activity all week.
But they were joined Friday by Matt Hart, a four-year resident of West University and an attorney for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, specializing in corporate finance; and another four-year resident, Buckley Morlot, who works in development for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a Republican think tank.
Incumbent Melanie Bell did not seek re-election, the only current officeholder not to seek a return to council chambers.
Had there not been at least four council candidates, the election would have gone on with the new mayor and council filling the vacancy by appointment, according to Gilliam.
Early voting will run from April 24 through May 2, with Election Day on Saturday, May 6. Click here for the city’s election webpage.