Gardner re-elected, Russell beats Stringer

Incumbent commissioner wins second four-year term

Incumbent Ector County Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Gardner was re-elected to a new four-year term Tuesday while incumbent Precinct 3 Commissioner Don Stringer lost to challenger Samantha Russell when all the votes came in from Gardner’s big west side Precinct 1 and the more compact Precinct 3, which lies mostly inside the City of Odessa.

Gardner’s and Stringer’s bids for second terms were staged during the fractious Ector County Republican Primary, which saw vicious infighting among leaders of the party’s conservative and ultra-conservative wings and the candidates who carried their ensigns.

Gardner’s re-election had looked somewhat iffy after he was charged in the accidental shooting of his 12-year-old grandson at a wedding he was presiding over Sept. 30 in Lancaster County, Neb., where a homemade blank from a pistol with which Gardner was starting the ceremony went sideways and hit the boy in the shoulder. The case is still being adjudicated.

Gardner ended the long night of vote-counting that didn’t wrap up till nearly midnight with 934 votes of 51.29 percent to Linda Young Anglley’s 407 votes or 22.35 percent, Larry Glenn Robinson’s 255 votes or 14 percent and David Shaw’s 225 votes or 12.36 percent as the challengers collectively failed to deny Gardner the 50.01 percent he needed to avoid a May 28 primary runoff with the frontrunner.

Robinson carried the ultra-conservative banner in that race.

Russell, who did the same in her contest, drew 937 votes or 51.94 percent while Stringer got 867 votes or 48.06 percent.

There are no Democrats in either race.

Gardner said he had worked strenuously for months to win re-election without a runoff including a lot of block-walking with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren and talking to as many of his constituents as possible.

“I made myself available to people and I have done that since day one,” he said. “I’ve been here at the office every day and made my cell phone number known to the public because I think that’s what it takes.

“Ninety percent of the people said, ‘Yes, we’re going to vote’ or ‘We have voted. They liked me being available to them and calling them back when they had issues.”

Gardner said his late father Freddie’s having been the longtime Precinct 1 commissioner has always been an asset.

“We talked all the time about his philosophy,” he said. “I probably don’t do things as good as he did, but I learned that having good communications with the people you serve makes a huge difference.”

Efforts to reach Russell Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Stringer said he “was out knocking on doors and meeting people and doing the very best I could to present myself to people who didn’t know me as a man of outstanding character.

“I was also doing my best to ignore the negative Facebook posts from Odessa Accountability that tried to tarnish my good name,” Stringer said. “I wasn’t going to let it happen.

“Gardner and I both needed to be re-elected because we have a good court right now. Robinson threatened to punch me at one of the forums. This has been a real clown show. My God has heard from me a whole lot lately.”