RINCON — The cloud of tension that hovered inside the Vernon C. Hinely Community Center as votes were being counted was broken by Patrick Kirkland’s beaming smile.
His grin was the result of a victory in the race for a spot on the Rincon City Council.
“I am very excited to start this venture here in Rincon,” Kirkland said immediately following the Nov. 5 election. “It’s a very small margin but I’m super excited to move forward and be able do great things for Rincon.”
Kirkland, a political newcomer, joined incumbents Reese Browher and James Dasher as the leading vote-getters. Voters were allowed to cast ballots for three candidates.
Kirkland will replace incumbent Paul Wendelken.
Dasher received the most votes with 334. Browher and Kirkland gained 328 and 305, respectively. Wendelken got 271.
Kirkland finished fourth in a five-way race for three spots on the council in 2017.
“I got out a lot more (this time) and talked to people,” he said. “I went out and knocked on doors, went and met people in various locations. I didn’t do anything differently. I just did more of it.”
Kirkland said he will spend his first meeting or two fitting in and learning the ropes of the position. He does have a primary concern, however.
“I want to look at the budget,” he said.
While departing the community center, Wendelken approached Kirkland and said, “I’ve got one thing to ask you."”
Kirkland replied, “What’s that?”
“Care as much as I do,” Wendelken answered.
Kirkland assured Wendelken that he would serve citizens to the best of his ability.
Dasher, who won his fifth term, made a similar pledge.
“I’m thankful to the residents of Rincon and I look forward to serving our residents and our employees for the next four years,” he said.
Browher has also been re-elected multiple times.
“I am very humbled and grateful that the people who prayed for me and elected me,” he said. “I work for them. It doesn’t matter what the issue is and that’s the way I’ve been since my first campaign.
“It can be a pothole in the right of way that you hit on the way to work everyday. It’s about constituent services.”
Browher, who will turn 48 before his next term ends, made a bit of news before leaving the community center with his family.
“I will go on the record and say this will probably be my last term,” he said. “Unless there is some extenuating circumstance, my plans are to (complete the new term) and maybe run for (another) office in the future..
“I teach government, so I love government. I will do the best I can for four years.”