Who's on the ballot?: UT Tyler area candidates

Chandler Gibson


Texas early voting began on Monday, Oct. 13, and kicked off one expectedly tumultuous election season. We here at The Patriot Talon wanted to create an inclusive and expansive list of all candidates that will be on the ballot for this area.

This story, using addresses for The University of Texas at Tyler, Ornelas Hall, Patriot Village, University Pines, Liberty Landing and Victory Village examines who exactly is on the ballot. Strangely enough, even between housing complexes, the ballots are slightly different, and different candidates mean different policy for their respective constituents.

There are a plethora of issues for this election, but I’ve narrowed it down to the top five: Racial Justice, Climate Change and Sustainability, The Economy, COVID-19 and Abortion.

These issues come from candidates’ websites, and I chose those that have been most commonly in the news and easily comparable between platforms. Some candidate positions have not been included, due to intentional impartiality or unavailability.


President of the United States

The campaign President of the United States is obviously the most important and obvious election this cycle. Manhattan real estate mogul and reality TV personality Donald Trump sees his presidency challenged by US-Senator-from-Delaware-turned-former-Vice-President-of-the-United-States, Joe Biden.

  • Incumbent: President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence (Republican)

  • Challenger: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (Democrat)

United States Senate

Not as closely watched, the race for US Senator from Texas pits incumbent senator John Cornyn against former military helicopter pilot, Mary “MJ” Hegar.

  • Incumbent: John Cornyn (Republican)

  • Challenger: Mary “MJ” Hegar (Democrat)

United States House: District 1

Maybe you’ve seen Hank Gilbert’s ad for why he’s running, but it sounds like he has reasons. This race for US House District 1 puts eight-term incumbent Louie Gohmert against Tyler-area rancher, Hank Gilbert.

  • Incumbent: Louie Gohmert (Republican)

  • Challenger: Hank Gilbert (Democrat)


Texas Senate: District 1

  • Incumbent: Bryan Hughes (Republican)

  • Challenger: Audrey Spanko (Democrat)

Texas House: District 6

  • Incumbent: Matt Schaefer (Republican)

  • Challenger: Julie Gobble (Democrat)

Texas Railroad Commissioner

The Railroad Commission, despite its name, has had nothing to do with railroads since 2005. This agency more specifically focuses on energy, oil, pipeline safety, mineral regulation, and surface coal and uranium, according to the official website. It’s a three-member committee within the executive branch of the Texas government.

Because of the specifics of the job and the scope of the platforms on which candidates for this office run, the issues criteria have been adjusted.

  • Incumbent: James “Jim” Wright (Republican)

  • Challenger: Chrysta Castañeda (Democrat)

Board of Education: District 9

The Board of Education in Texas establishes curriculum standards, education regulations for the state Independent School Districts.

Neither candidate has put forth an official website or social media account describing their platform and key issues, so they have been excluded from the list.

  • Incumbent: Kevin Ellis (Republican)

  • Challenger: Brenda Davis (Democrat)

Texas Supreme Court

Due to the roles of court justices, they did not put their public stances on issues in campaign websites, in order to maintain and preserve perceived impartiality. Therefore, they have been excluded from this listing.

Chief Justice:

  • Incumbent: Nathan L. Hecht (Republican)

  • Challenger: Amy Clark Meachum (Democrat)

Place 6:

  • Incumbent: Jane Bland (Republican)

  • Challenger: Kathy Cheng

Place 7:

  • Incumbent: Jeffrey S. Boyd (Republican)

  • Challenger: Staci Williams (Democrat)

Place 8:

  • Incumbent: Brett Busby (Republican)

  • Challenger: Gisela D. Triana (Democrat)

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

These judges are on the same level of the Texas Supreme Court (the civil side of the civil-criminal coin), and therefore follow many of the same rules. They have since been excluded from this list.

Place 3

  • Incumbent: Bert Richardson (Republican)

  • Challenger: Elizabeth Davis Frizell (Democrat)

Place 4

  • Incumbent: Kevin Yeary (Republican)

  • Challenger: Tina Clinton (Democrat)

Place 9

  • Incumbent: David Newell (Republican)

  • Challenger: Brandon Birmingham (Democrat)

Texas Twelfth Court of Appeals: Place 1

James Worthen is running unopposed in 2020, and he maintains the same level of nondisclosure of public stances on major issues in order to preserve objectivity.

  • Incumbent: James Worthen (Republican)


District Courts

Both of these candidates are running unopposed, and neither have made specific statements about public policy positions. Because of that, they have been excluded from this list.

7th District Court:

  • Incumbent: Kerry Russell (Republican)

114th District Court:

  • Incumbent: Austin Reeve Jackson (Republican)


  • Incumbent: Larry Smith (Republican)

County Tax Assessor-Collector

  • Incumbent: Gary B. Barber (Republican)

County Commissioner: Precinct 3

  • Incumbent: Terry Phillips (Republican)

  • Challenger: Laura Alexander (Democratic)

County Constable: Precinct 3

  • Incumbent: Jim Blackmon, Jr. (Republican)


Because of the nature of many local elections, the platforms for local candidates are wide-ranging and do not fit the traditional criteria. They often do not have to declare a political party, and most often do not have a campaign website. They have been excluded from this list.

Interestingly, if you live directly on-campus at any housing besides Liberty Landing, you vote in District 5, but if you live at Liberty Landing, you vote in District 4. If you life at Victory Village, you somehow don't get to vote for Tyler City Council or Mayor of Tyler at all.

Mayor of Tyler

  • Joe Rando, Mayor At Large

  • Don Warren

City Council Districts

District 4: Northeast (Liberty Landing):

  • James Wynne

  • Nick Pesina

District 5: East (UT Tyler Campus, O-Hall, PV and UPines)

  • Bob Westbrook


Newsroom: 903-566-7131


Ads: 903-565-5536


Email: editor@patriottalon.com

The University of Texas at Tyler

University Center 3114

Tyler, TX, 75799 

Site design 

 © 2019 Talon Student Media

 The University of Texas at Tyler

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat Social Icon