Hennigan, McKenna win Orange city council run-off
Last updated 6/18/2019 at Noon
For The Record
After scoring convincing wins over incumbents in the June 15 Orange City Council Run-off Elections, Caroline Mazzola Hennigan and Mary McKenna had different takes on the process.
Hennigan won 71.6 percent of the votes cast in the At-Large Place 5 race against incumbent Bill Mello, who was seeking his fifth consecutive term.
McKenna scored 67.5 percent of the vote in her run-off against two-time District 4 representative Annette Pernell.
Hennigan, a special education coordinator for Little Cypress-Mauriceville schools making her first run for elective office, says she has three priorities.
Two were part of her campaign platform – improving Orange’s quality of life and bettering its drainage – and one was only recently added.
“The third thing I’d like to get is a change from the city charter about run-offs,” Hennigan said.
“I did not enjoy the run-off process. I thought it dragged out too long. I believe it cost the city a lot of money and was completely unnecessary.
“Mary and I won both times. It just took a lot longer and delayed us being able to get started.”
McKenna, director of Orange’s Golden Triangle Hospice, won election for the second time in three tries, having served District 4 as its representative from 2013-2016.
“This election was unique to me. It was my first time to have more than one opponent,” she said.
“It was OK. I learned a lot, my first time to be in a run-off. You’re always appreciative in a learning process.
“And I got to meet a lot of great people in Orange along the way. That was nice, too.”
Both Hennigan and McKenna were the top vote-getters in the city’s May 4 election but failed to receive the required 50 percent plus one vote majority required as their races included four and three candidates, respectively.
In the May 4 election, Hennigan topped a list of four candidates with 39.3 percent of the votes in the May 4 election while Mello actually dropped a few ticks from winning 28.7 percent of the vote in May to 28.4 percent in the run-off.
McKenna, who previously represented District 4 in 2013-2016, won 49.1 percent of the votes in a three-way race during the May 4 election, coming in three votes shy then of gaining the 50 percent and one vote majority required to avoid the run-off.
Voter turnout was expectedly light in the run-off.
Where 1,022 people voted in the city wide Place 5 At-Large race in May, less than half as many – 465 – voted during the June 3-11 early voting and June 15 election day voting combined.
The 465 voters equal 4.1 percent of the city’s 11,281 registered voters.
District 4 has 2,487 registered voters, according to the City of Orange. Only 285 of them – 11.5 percent – voted May 4 and only 209 – 8.4 percent of those – cast a ballot in the run-off.
While the city was not able to immediately put a number on the cost of its 2019 election, it said a year ago it budgeted $6,000 for that election.
As it turned out, only one 2018 race – mayor’s office -- was contested and there was no run-off.
“I think it’s important to look at how many people voted in the run-off,” Hennigan said. “We had that expensive election for 400 people. They’re important, but this doesn’t seem like it’s well spent.”
The final “unofficial” tallies for Saturday, June 15 were 141 for McKenna, 68 for Pernell in District 4; 333 for Hennigan and 132 for Mello for the At-Large Place 5 seat.
Votes will be canvassed the week of June 24-28.
Hennigan is set to be sworn in Tuesday, June 25th at 5:30 p.m. while McKenna will be sworn in Tuesday, July 9 at 9 a.m.