Matt Pierce Briscoe
Corpus Christi councilman Greg Smith was able to handily fend off his challenger, Kaylynn Paxson Tuesday in a runoff for the District 4 city council seat.
Smith, who was largely out campaigned, was able to rally his supporters by a hearty number on Tuesday to get to the polls in support of his efforts. Paxson, who fell short by over 2,000 votes, relied mostly on grassroots campaigning and highly targeted publicity appearances to find her support in the runoff.
Paxson focused her efforts largely on North Padre Island where she found comfort in small circles that felt as if Smith had not done enough for their bedroom community despite having shown much success in spearheading innovative and economically strategic projects on the secluded island neighborhood. Their argument was that Smith was rarely seen at hyper-local events, and Paxson attempted to swing that to her advantage. In the end, it was not enough.
Smith has placed his focus in his home neighborhood of Flour Bluff where he is well-known and respected among the community. He made it clear that his priority was going to focus efforts there this time around, a strategy that a few on North Padre did not agree with.
While a handful of North Padre Island residents were fighting for an “island centric” candidate, Smith was able to secure support from the entire district and with Paulette Guajardo having defeated incumbent Mayor Joe McComb on Tuesday, it is likely that Smith will represent the balance that will be needed on council—especially if Guajardo doesn’t do something to bridge the gap with the voting blocs that she alienated with attack ads and negative campaigning during both the general and runoff elections.
Smith has been a fierce advocate for District 4 and is perhaps the most analytical and strategic hand on council. He has been solidly armed with data, facts and expert analysis during every debate while reserving an opinion until all of the voices and sides were heard. His win tonight could help quiet what might turn into a fairly volatile council chamber over the next few weeks and months.
While only a small fraction of North Padre Island supported Smith, the vote did appear to be somewhat split and that could mean trouble for the incumbent if he does not follow through with his keystone “island projects,” which is highly unlikely that he would. But Flour Bluff was the real winner Tuesday night.
Flour Bluff, who Paxson obviously did not understand or resonate with, is in a serious political and philosophical predicament. That community is grappling with an out of control homeless issue that is sparking wild debate and economic woes. Add drainage issues and outdated infrastructure to the batter and Flour Bluff has some real issues to deal with. But there is the looming question of the area development plan that could change all of that.
Smith, who has a knack for finding funding and using his political and community relationships to make things happen, positions the Bluff to overcome their current situation and jump on a fairly aggressive development plan that could help the economically pressured community. It seems it was that experience that helped propel Smith to a solid win Tuesday and that trust that sat well with voters.