For over 20 years, incumbent McLennan County Commissioner (pct. 2), Lester Gibson, has reigned over the rural regions of his district in Riesel and Axtel, ignoring the requests and desires of the constituents in his district.
Comfortable with his support in East Waco, the Democrat Commissioner is notorious for evading calls from his rural constituents, who feel he ignores them because they do not vote for him. In the past, East Waco residents have been able to keep Gibson in office, ensuring they always have his ear.
Gibson, who calls East Waco residents “his people,” has run his course, and it seems as though the people of Riesel have had enough of the “race politics.” After all, elected officials are accountable to all the people in their district, not just the ones who share the same skin color.
At the Riesel Parade and Fair, Tony Abad, Republican challenger for the Commissioner’s seat, met hundreds of residents,many who are fed up with Gibson’s lack of interest in their part of the district. When asked what specifically they disapproved of, their response was unanimously, “he just doesn’t care about us.”
From roads to avoiding phone calls, the people were obviously frustrated with a lack of service and attention to issues they feel need to be addressed. “I’ve called Gibson several times and left multiple messages and never got a reply. Eventually, I ended up calling the Commissioner’s Court, and only after that, did Lester Gibson call me back,” said one woman.
In a phone interview, one Riesel woman, a life-long Democrat, said, “Well you’re gonna get my vote, and I’ll do all I can to help you win…Lester doesn’t care about us.” When asked why she was so frustrated, she replied, “the roads.” According to many residents in Riesel, some roads in the county are so dilapidated, you need a truck to drive down them.
Tony heard complaints everywhere he went, and the people weren’t shy about speaking their minds. Walking the parade route, Abad was able to meet, face to face, with hundreds of people. “Hi…Im Tony Abad, and I’m running for County Commissioner, Precinct 2, against Lester Gibson,” said Tony. Immediately, people would turn to see who it was, and would repeat, “Did you say you’re running against Lester Gibson?” “Yes,” replied Tony. “You’ve got my vote!” they’d reply, “Can I vote now?” Others would walk up and ask for a flyer, ensuring they would support Abad and do anything they could to unseat Gibson.
It was an incredibly revealing visit, one that clearly positions the rural regions of the district against the urban regions of East Waco. This election will require a large voter turn-out for Tony Abad in the rural areas. Currently, the majority of voters in these rural areas vote Republican, but the challenge remains to increase the amount of voters who show up on election day.
Based on the strong emotion of the people of Riesel, it seems as though they’re ready to rock the vote and show Gibson his way to the door. At this time, we’re not certain if Gibson will run for re-election. It has been rumored that he may not. Either way, Abad is preparing for a long, hard race, and is committed to restoring the integrity of the Commissioner’s seat for all residents of Precinct 2.