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Ballot canvassing committee confirms runoff in Woodway city council race

City council to make it official during meeting next Monday
David Henry (LEFT) and Amine Qourzal  (RIGHT)
David Henry (LEFT) and Amine Qourzal (RIGHT)(Courtesy Photos)
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 3:30 PM CDT
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WOODWAY, Texas (KWTX) - After some initial confusion over the winner of a Woodway City Council seat, the city ballot canvassing committee made it official Wednesday morning – there will be a runoff for the Ward 1, Place 2 slot.

The Woodway City Council will make it official at a Monday meeting when it will accept the results of the ballot canvassing and set a June 28 runoff election between one-term City Council member Amine Qourzal and David Henry, both Baylor University employees.

The candidates and many of their supporters thought Qourzal had won re-election after results from the May 7 city and school elections were announced and Qourzal had 49.43 percent of the vote.

However, city officials alerted the candidates the following day that because Woodway City Council terms are three years instead of the more-common two years, a majority, or just more than 50 percent, is required by law to win.

On election night, it was announced that Qourzal, 38, senior director of operations and finance at Baylor’s Career Center, received 524 votes, while Henry, a Waco patent lawyer and a professor at Baylor Law School, won 426 votes for 40.19%.

Nancy Goebel, who withdrew from the race but didn’t take the requisite steps to remove her name from the ballot, received 110 votes for 10.3%.

Jared Goldsmith, county elections administrator, said the county ballot board met on Friday to review election results and accepted a few late ballots, including those from overseas and some provisional ballots, that changed vote totals but not outcomes.

On Wednesday, Woodway Mayor Jane Kittner and Mayor Pro Tem Scott Giddings reviewed the totals from the ballot board and accepted them as final election results.

Qourzal picked up two votes for a total of 526 and 49.25%. Henry added five votes for a total of 431 votes and 40.36%. Goebel picked up one vote.

Qourzal said Wednesday he wants to thank the “500-plus Woodway citizens” who voted for him.

“Your desire for trusted, experienced leadership is what has propelled me to continue in this race,” Qourzal said in a statement. “As we look to the upcoming runoff election, I am asking once again for your support and confidence in re-electing me to city council. I know a runoff isn’t what we were hoping for, but having a fair, legal process decided by the voter is essential to good government.”

Henry said in a statement Wednesday he regrets the expense and inconvenience to the voters that the runoff might create. However, he said he and Qourzal both owe it to their supporters “to carry this through to the end as prescribed by law.”

“Should I have the privilege of serving the citizens of Woodway, my priorities will be to do all that I can to minimize property tax burdens, to increase transparency in city government decisions and processes, and to help create a proactive culture of anticipating, rather than reacting to changes and challenges to the Woodway community,” Henry said.

Henry pitched the idea on social media of settling the contest with the flip of a coin. Qourzal did not respond to the concept and declined comment Wednesday on Henry’s proposal.

“I threw it out there for discussion because the results were so close,” Henry said. “It wasn’t a firm offer. I said, ‘What do you think about this?’ I did throw it out there as a concept on the assumption that at least the majority of voters for Nancy Goebel would have been mine, which would have made the election virtually a toss-up. I’m not sure if it is legal, but I just wanted to get voters’ reactions, and in part, it helped me gauge if anyone really cares how this turned out.”

Goebel threw her support behind Henry after withdrawing from the race.

Goldsmith said a similar runoff election in 2019 for a Hewitt City Council seat cost the city about $7,500 for the county to handle the election. The Woodway race likely will cost a bit more, Goldsmith said.

Early voting and election day voting in the Ward 1, Place 2 race will be held at Woodway City Hall. Early voting will be held on June 16 and June 17 and from June 20-June 24.

Meanwhile, early voting continues in a handful of statewide runoff elections through Friday.

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