Early voting has been scheduled for Nov. 23 through Dec. 4 for Denton City Council runoff races, and county Elections Administrator Frank Phillips said these elections are about turnout.

“That’s normally the case, but it really depends on the races,” he said in an email. “The Denton mayor’s race could certainly drive a higher-than-normal turnout.”

The runoff for Denton mayor could come down to the 10 precincts in which candidates Keely Briggs and Gerard Hudspeth were the most competitive on Election Day.

Briggs, the District 2 council member in her third term and a community volunteer, led the race, carrying 33 of 43 precincts in unofficial returns. A litigation consultant, Hudspeth is in his second term representing District 1 on the council.

Half of Hudspeth’s Nov. 3 precinct wins are generally in west Denton, with the others in southeastern Denton. But in one of those — Precinct 1018 — he was separated from Briggs by 193 votes in unofficial returns. And the margins in other precincts were smaller — 1013 (35), 1019 (31), 1039 (six), 1046 (20), 4010 (70) and 4040 (67).

On Election Day, Briggs received 48.5% of the vote, or 24,815 ballots. Hudspeth received 41.7% (21,310). Michael Mitchell, a delivery driver, received 9.8% (5,004) of the vote.

The runoff candidates have been campaigning since about February, making it a long election season after the Denton City Council moved municipal elections from May to November because of the pandemic.

Chris Watts remains mayor until that race is decided. He was set to leave the council Tuesday if a new mayor had been elected.

“I’m proud to serve,” he said.

Campaign finance reports that cover the period from Oct. 25 to Nov. 25 are due on Nov. 30.

Hudspeth, who serves as mayor pro tem, said he will leave his council seat on Tuesday, when Birdia Johnson is sworn into office in District 1 following her win over George Ferrie Jr.

With Hudspeth leaving the council, members must elect a new mayor pro tem, according to city charter.

The runoff between first-term incumbent Paul Meltzer and pastor Jim Mann for at-large Place 6 could be decided in eight precincts where the margins ranged anywhere from two votes to 100 votes.

In unofficial results, Meltzer received 44.9% (21,409) of the vote. Mann received 42.2% (20,108) — a 1,301-vote difference. Liam York, a student, received 13% of the vote (6,179).

The smallest margins among the eight most competitive precincts in the Place 6 race are in Precincts 1009 (73), 1015 (39), 1019 (30), 1046 (38), 4015 (36) and 4041 (27).

Precinct 1009 is in the North Bonnie Brae Street area; 1015 is south of Interstate 35E between Londonderry Lane and Abbotts Lane; 1019 is west of Corinth near Teasley; 1046 is also west of Corinth roughly between Hickory Creek Road and Teasley; 4015 is south of I-35E and Londonderry and east of Fort Worth Drive; and 4041 is between I-35E and Edwards Road.

Mann’s precinct wins are scattered in areas outside central Denton. For Meltzer, his wins are generally in central Denton and two precincts in southeastern Denton.

And in District 2’s five-candidate field, Connie Baker and Ronnie Anderson were 56 votes apart in unofficial returns, with Baker receiving 28.7% (3,417) of the vote. Anderson received 28.2% (3,361).

That district includes 14 precincts. Of those, many were separated by a few votes, including 1008 (seven), 1010 (54), 1012 (four), 1013 (47) and 4040 (13).

Baker took four precincts in northwest Denton, and Anderson led in precincts in north and northeast Denton and west Denton.

Polling locations for the Dec. 8 election will be set after votes have been canvassed on Tuesday, with voting hours set for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting hours and locations also will be set later.

PAUL BRYANT can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @paulbryant_DRC.

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