After businessman Travis Mitchell spent $10,000 of his own money to challenge Kyle City Council Member Diane Hervol, the race ended in a tie, according to unofficial election results Saturday.
Hervol and Mitchell each received 510 votes in the bid for the District 1 seat.
In the city’s District 3 race, Council Member Shane Arabie easily kept his seat against challenger Randall Lloyd, 58 to 42 percent.
Hervol called the tie in her race stunning, saying it was “unheard of” to have a tie in a Kyle city election.
It’s unclear what will happen next. Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan said the county will likely do a recount. On Monday, she will verify whether there are any provisional ballots, and the county will have to wait five days to see if any ballots were mailed from overseas.
If the tie stands, there could even be a coin-flip for the seat.
“It’s going to be interesting, the next couple of days,” said Mitchell.
Still, he said he was heartened by the outcome. Shortly after the polls closed, early voting results had him trailing Hervol 47 percent to 53 percent.
“Thirty minutes ago I was pretty dejected, and now I’m beyond perplexed,” he said Saturday night.
Mitchell brought a possibly unprecedented amount of money to his run. Local observers could not remember another City Council candidate who had spent as much as he did.
Hervol, 54, a law officer manager, campaigned primarily on the experience gained during her two terms on the council and two on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Her tenure has been marked by distrust of the mayor and the council majority, who she says lack transparency. She criticized Mitchell for never engaging in city politics before running for the seat.
Mitchell, 31, challenged her based on his experience as the owner of Mitchell Motorsports. He argued the city needs to be friendlier to small businesses, instead of focusing on drawing large corporations.
District 3 saw a more low-key race. Arabie reported spending less than $500 and Lloyd said he spent nothing.
Arabie, 42, is an employee of Texas State University who gained his seat on the council in a special election a year and a half ago. Before that he served as chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Lloyd, 52, is a bartender at Applebee’s who said he wanted to provide a regular taxpayer view of local issues.
Lloyd considered folding his campaign after a health scare just weeks ago. But at the urging of supporters, including Council Member Daphne Tenorio, an ally of Hervol and critic of Arabie, he agreed to stay in the race.
Eleven propositions were also on the ballot to make changes to the city’s charter, per the recommendations of a review committee. They included provisions to remove elected officials from office for “a crime of moral turpitude,” clarify that the council cannot instruct the city manager to hire and fire employees, require city boards and commissions to have public comment and move city elections to November.
All of the measures passed easily Saturday except for one. Voters rejected eliminating a requirement that the council sign off on firing the finance director.