Political newcomer Frank Ritchie took a big early lead over longtime City Council member Nina Woolard in the race to be Boerne’s next mayor.
Ritchie, a local businessman, captured 75.9 percent of the ballots and Woolard 24 percent, based on the 8:40 p.m. totals released Saturday after the polls closed. The votes cast on Saturday were still being tabulated.
“These are pretty amazing results, considering the fact that I ran a non-traditional campaign where I didn’t campaign at all,” Rtichie said of his huge early lead. “I’m excited that the community has put their faith and trust in someone who is a regular guy who just cares about the community and loves his neighbor.”
Woolard, who has served as the City Council’s District 2 representative for more than 10 years, and Ritchie are seeking to replace Mayor Tim Handren, who decided not to seek re-election after four years in office.
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Issues related to transportation and the pace of development have been key issues in the race as Boerne continues to struggle with rapid population growth. Boerne’s population grew from 10,471 in 2010 to about 19,109 in 2022, according to the US Census Bureau.
Woolard and other city officials have faced criticism from some community members who have accused them of not doing enough to regulate and control development in the city and county. Woolard’s campaign website presented a litany of policy positions dealing with growth-related issues.
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Ritchie, who operates Ritchie Automotive in Boerne, describes himself as “a fat monkey who loves Jesus.” His platform is “(Keep) Boerne Boerne,” he said during a candidate’s forum. Ritchie received grassroots support from one of Boerne’s largest private Facebooks. groups, and residents who oppose development in the rapidly growing city.
Supporters made campaign signs, posters and car stickers for Ritchie, who has publicly refused to campaign in these capacities.
“That’s the goal of my career — to bring that sense of community back to Boerne and not that sense of a city,” Ritchie said.
Traffic and growth have long been talking points in Boerne.
Josie Norris, San Antonio Express-News / Staff photographer
Town Hall races
In Boerne City Council District 2, two candidates were in a tight race to replace Woolard on the council.
Sharon Wright had a narrow 21-vote lead over challenger Joe Bateman, 252-231, at 8:15 p.m.
Wright, a nurse practitioner, cites a “tipping point” in the city’s quality of life as her reason for running. He has spoken out against the city’s recently approved public thoroughfare plan and the eventual arrival of a Buc-ee’s on the city’s south side — two hot-button issues among politically active residents.
Bateman ran on a platform of “conservative governance and fiscal responsibility” as well as “putting water first” when analyzing the city’s growth. Bateman said he would prioritize reducing emergency response times.
In City Council District 4, incumbent Bryce Boddie is unopposed in his bid to retain his council seat.
This is a developing story and will be updated.