Smithville school board President Dareld Morris III, who a Smithville Times investigation found had been arrested in Florida last year, lost his re-election bid Saturday to challenger Nancy Towry by a wide margin.
Towry, a longtime school district volunteer, received 865 votes, 68.6 percent, according to final unofficial election results.
“I learned a lot through this process and I am ready to continue my service to the district in this new role,” Towry said in a statement Sunday. “I plan to hit the ground running. There are several important projects and changes in the works, and I look forward to working with this great board.”
Morris tallied 396 votes. “I’m holding my head up high, as obviously, this was not an election of qualification, experience or ability to lead. Rather, it was personal for a lot of people,” he said. “Goes with the territory of living in a small town.”
The Times in April reported that Morris had been arrested in Florida in August on suspicion of domestic battery after his wife told authorities he threw “her against the wall and she believes she may have blacked out,” according to court documents.
Morris, who pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge, denied the allegations and said he took the blame for someone else.
A subsequent investigation by the Times revealed Morris had been accused of violence but never charged in four other investigations dating back to 2008. Those investigations involved allegations of violence made by his wife, two other women and a man.
“Those allegations are categorically false, and if (school district parents) want to get to know me as a person, they will know that that’s all not true,” Morris told the Times last week. “I do stand up for people; I do stand up for my friends; I do put myself in harm’s way so that they don’t get in trouble.”
Morris said Saturday that while he’s disappointed he wasn’t re-elected, he will remain available to school board members “with anything they would like.”
“I’m not going away and I’m not going to stop helping the kids of this community,” he said. “Again, I love this place, my family, friends, supporters, and we will continue to make Smithville the very best it can be.”
Trustee Alan Hemphill, who has been on the board nine years, easily won re-election Saturday against his challenger, Danne Absher.
Hemphill earned 752 votes, 60.5 percent, compared with challenger Absher’s 490 votes.
Smithville City Council results
Incumbent Smithville City Council Member Troy Streuer was soundly defeated Saturday by Cassie Barrientos for the Place 5 seat, while incumbent Joanna Morgan won re-election to Place 4, according to the unofficial election results.
Barrientos, a political newcomer, received 441 votes (66.3 percent), compared with Streuer’s 224 votes.
Morgan, who first ran for City Council in 2012, won re-election Saturday by 43 votes. Morgan received 355 votes (53.2 percent), compared with challenger Jimi Lynn Brandon’s 312 votes.
“I’m very happy to be re-elected,” Morgan said. “We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on in Smithville right now, and I’m very much excited to be re-elected so I can be a part of it.”
Morgan said Brandon is a “lovely young lady. It takes a lot of courage to run for public office for the first time, especially against an incumbent, and I wish her the best in her future.”