City council has big changes coming in 2021

A particularly nasty campaign season is finally over and Odessa has a new mayor and two new faces on the Odessa City Council.

In the race for mayor of Odessa, Javier Joven defeated outgoing District 2 Councilman Dewey Bryant 3,662 to 2,277. Early voting showed Joven with 2,519 or 61.63 percent of the vote to Bryant’s 1,568 or 38.37 percent.

Joven, following the early election results, said Odessans wanted change.

“Overwhelming and let me tell you, many people looked at this as an improbable victory but with the help of God and volunteers, we have worked hard and the people of Odessa have casted a vote for a resounding change,” Joven said.

In the At Large race newcomer Denise Swanner overwhelmingly defeated current Mayor David Turner by more than two to one with a whopping 4,191 votes to Turner’s 1,728 votes. In early voting, Swanner pulled away with 2,863 votes or 70.27 percent to Turner’s 1,211 votes or 29.73 percent.

In District 1 newcomer Mark Matta beat incumbent Michael Shelton Sr. with 471 votes to 269 votes. Matta also had a solid lead in early voting of 333 votes or 61.33 percent to Shelton’s 210 votes or 38.67 percent.

This year’s campaign was marked by all-around unpleasantness over everything from the current mayor’s tax troubles to the cost of two Christmas trees in downtown Odessa.

Social media posts have slammed both Turner and Bryant for items including spending $80,000 on the two Christmas trees to the handling locally of COVID-19 and a deal struck three years ago that helped locate the Marriott and the convention center in downtown Odessa.

The sites and paid ads in local publications, including the Odessa American, repeatedly criticized Turner and Bryant. Turner for unpaid taxes and federal tax liens and Bryant for what the sites called his bank’s involvement in a ponzi scheme. Recent indictments, however, showed that the ponzi scheme was hatched by people who did not work for Bryant’s Southwest Bank. In fact, Southwest Bank is listed as a victim in the scheme in the recent indictments.

Bryant is the outgoing District 2 councilman and Turner is the outgoing mayor of Odessa. Both Turner and Bryant termed out of their current seats and were seeking other city offices. Joven is a former councilman in District 5 from 1996 to 1999 who resigned prior to the end of his term. He later ran in 2010, but lost to Dean Combs.

Turner and Swanner sought the at-large council seat while the District 1 race was between Matta and Shelton, who was appointed earlier in the year by the city council after Councilman Malcolm Hamilton abruptly resigned.

Swanner said she is looking forward to family time now that the election is over and ready to look closely at the city’s budget.

Matta, after getting early voting totals, said all the hard work that everyone put in for this race “has been a culmination to this day. It’s been bittersweet. All the people that I’ve met and all the help that I’ve got came to this so it’s a huge weight that’s off. You can take a big breath and finally enjoy it.”

He said the last month has been busy with getting out and phone calls.

Results from Midland County, which is where City of Odessa residents who live in Midland County vote, voted 213 for Bryant and 103 for Joven. Turner garnered 127 votes to Swanner’s 188.

The runoff election was called because candidates failed to garner 50 percent of the vote plus one – which is required to be declared the winner.

On Nov. 3, Bryant received 43 percent of the vote and Joven snared 40 percent of the vote during the general election.

In the at-large council race, Turner claimed 45 percent of the vote and Swanner garnered 29 percent. Turner has served two terms as mayor and Swanner is a newcomer to local politics.

In District 1, Matta picked up 44 percent of the vote and Shelton received 19 percent.

Only Odessan Steven Thompson won his race in November when he defeated Rachel Minor for the District 2 seat. Thompson received 55 percent of the vote; Minor 45 percent.