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April 1, 2014

It's up to voters now

Half-penny sales tax, 2nd Ward council seat on the ballot

DUNCAN — Voting polls will open at 7 a.m. today and close at 7 p.m. in one of the more lively elections in recent Duncan history.

To be decided is the fate of the 20-year-old half-cent sales tax that is collected to bolster economic investment.

Also on the table is the election of a councilman for Duncan’s northside 2nd Ward.

Having both issues on the same ballot has thrown an unknown factor into the election. Previous economic development tax votes never coincided with a council race, observers say.

Organizations for both sides of the tax vote have been formed. Both have launched automated telephone campaigns to solicit votes in recent days.

For the first time this year, the half-penny tax proceeds will be split between the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation (DAEDF) and the City of Duncan, if voters approve.

Until now, DAEDF used all the tax proceeds to promote investment in the area.

In the 2nd Ward council contest, incumbent Mike Nelson said he expects “a close race.”

A 59-year-old dentist born and raised in Duncan, Nelson said he didn’t do any campaigning on Monday and won’t do any today.

“No matter what happens, we’ve all got to get together and work as a team, because that hasn’t been happening lately,” he said.

Nelson is being challenged by two newcomers to city politics -- Chris Schreckengost, 42, a district manager for the Enterprise rental car company, and Bill Schneekloth, 70, a retired manufacturing plant manager.

Screckengost, known as “Schreck” to some, said he hung a 20-foot campaign banner on U.S. Highway 81 during the day on Monday and planted a few yard signs before attending an evening dance lesson for an upcoming Mother’s Day daddy/daughter dance.

Today, he said he and his wife Melissa will look for a “busy place” to have breakfast followed by a visit to busy lunch eatery to make a last-minute push for votes.

 “I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. “Win or lose, I feel I did the best I could to represent myself and represent my supporters.”

  Schneekloth was up before dawn on Monday to politick a group of bikers who gathered in a parking lot to escort a Duncan delegation to the education rally at the State Capitol. Then he and his wife Freeda put out more yard signs along a northern stretch of U.S. Highway 81 where he and Schreckengost have been vying for exposure.

“I call it the battle of Don Jose’s,” he said, invoking the name of the Mexican restaurant near the contested turf. “He and I have been battling for that area for some time. This has been such a lot of fun. It’s really gotten Duncan talking.”

Schneekloth said he has no idea who will win the council race but said he is encouraged by what voters tell him.

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Duncan mayor Gene Brown and vice mayor Dr. Mike Nelson share a comedic moment during Tuesday night's city council meeting.

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