Local elections draw few candidates in Shenandoah, Oak Ridge North in May

Only one local race in the cities of Oak Ridge North and Shenandoah will be contested in May. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Only one local race in the cities of Oak Ridge North and Shenandoah will be contested in May. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Only one local race in the cities of Oak Ridge North and Shenandoah will be contested in May. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Among six seats available on the city councils of Oak Ridge North and Shenandoah this year, only one will see a contested election May 1.

The single contested race will be for Place 3 on Shenandoah City Council, currently held by Dean Gristy.

Gristy withdrew his initial filing since he said he will move out of the city in a few months.

John Escoto and Jon Samuelson have also filed for the seat. Escoto said he is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and has been working on its 10-year plan.

“I’ve learned a lot about the city, and I see this as an opportunity for a bigger role and to join the team that’s doing a fantastic job,” he said.


Samuelson said he has expertise in accounting, in business processes as a systems analyst and in the field of information technology.

“I am interested in the city and its government and want to offer my services,” he said. “I believe I am very qualified.”Incumbents in the other two seats filed to run unopposed in the nonpartisan elections.

Steve Leakey, president of the Montgomery County nonprofit Voters Awareness Council which works to inform area voters, said May elections typically have much lower turnout than November.

Leakey said lack of participation can signal a lack of information that is available to constituents. The VAC works to address low interest through informative events such as candidate forums, he said.

“As a result of [forums], sometimes people will say ... ‘Maybe I ought to run,’” he said.

In Oak Ridge North, the election was canceled for the third year in a row, and only two elections have been held in the last eight years, officials said. The unopposed candidates will automatically take the seats for which they filed.
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2019 as a reporter for The Woodlands area and began working as Austin's City Hall reporter in April 2021.
By Andrew Christman
Andrew joined Community Impact Newspaper in early 2019 after moving from Indiana. He is a 2015 graduate from Indiana State University, where he received degrees in English and journalism. He has written for a number of small town publications throughout his career as a reporter.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.