Write-in candidate elected Parmer County attorney

By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor

For the first time in roughly 40 years, a write-in candidate won an election in Parmer County.

And this time it wasn’t because an incumbent candidate forgot to file.

Write-in candidate Kathryn Gurley of Friona defeated Farwell Republican Jeff W. Actkinson 2,014 votes to 1,606 on Tuesday night.

Bonnie Warren, who worked as Parmer County clerk for 36 years until 1997, said the only write-in candidate to win an election in the last 40 years was an incumbent county commissioner in the 1960s. In that case, Warren said the commissioner forgot to file for re-election.

Both candidates said Gurley won this time because Friona has more registered voters than Farwell. Gurley has been an attorney in Friona for 11 years.

“She’s a good attorney, I have nothing but high respect for her,” said Actkinson, whose father is the district attorney for Bailey and Parmer counties. “Friona is about three times the size of Farwell so basically they have a majority of the voters. It’s a good political process we have and I don’t have any problem with it.”

Actkinson had served as assistant county attorney for seven years until March, when the county commission appointed him county attorney after longtime county lawyer Charles Aycock retired. Gurley had also applied for the position but was not selected, Actkinson said.

Aycock, who worked in a firm with Actkinson, had originally decided to run for another term as county attorney but withdrew his name after the filing deadline when he was appointed to the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles.
When Aycock withdrew from the running, Gurley decided to run for the position. Actkinson filed to run for the position at the filing deadline.

She said she didn’t feel the need to run against Aycock because he had been the county attorney for at least 15 years and had done a good job.

“I’m very excited,” Gurley said. “It’s a job that has really grown.”

Gurley, who begins her term in January, said her main job will be to prosecute misdemeanor and juvenile cases and work with the Parmer County Commission.