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With Payton passing on second term, three candidates contend to be Midland’s next mayor

After Midland’s current mayor Patrick Payton announced he wouldn’t seek reelection, the race for fall election was left wide open. Now, three candidates are set to compete for the city’s top position.

By Mitch Borden

Midlanders will go to the polls this fall to decide who will lead them for the next three years. What was expected to be a straightforward election for an incumbent has now transformed into an exciting race to lead the city.

On the November ballot, voters will choose between a current city council member looking for a promotion, a former mayor trying to redeem himself after a previous defeat and a political newcomer.

The stage for this race was set earlier this month when Midland Mayor Patrick Payton withdrew his earlier promise to run for reelection, leaving the entire election up in the air with only a few weeks before the filing deadline.

Current councilwoman Lori Blong quickly announced her candidacy almost immediately after Payton’s announcement. Blong joined Midland’s city council in 2020, representing district 4 which covers western portions of the city. Along with her work with the city, she also operates an oil and gas company with her husband.

Earlier this year, when Blong announced her district 4 reelection bid, she explained to the Midland Reporter-Telegram why she wanted to continue to help lead the city.

“I want to stay the course, to continue to fight for individual liberties and conservative values on a local level.” Blong said, “to make prudent financial decisions with our taxpayer dollars, and to ensure that Midland is well-positioned for the future.”

As the filing window closed in, it seemed like Blong would run unopposed until retired carpenter Robert Dickenson filed to run. Dickson is still composing his political platform, but told Marfa Public Radio that if he’s elected he’s interested in drawing more development to downtown Midland and helping increase security at local schools.

The final mayoral candidate is a familiar face to Midlanders and well versed in what it takes to run the city. On the final day to join the race, former Mayor Jerry Morales filed to run for the election.

Morales was first elected in 2013 and served two terms, but left office after being defeated by Midland’s current mayor, Patrick Payton.

Over the phone, Morales told Marfa Public Radio people to bring back the integrity  he says his administration was known for.

“Our leadership and communication, our transparency and our unification of this community.” Morales said, “I really am looking forward to the opportunity to re-energize our community with those traits”

Midlanders will head to the polls this fall to choose who will be their next mayor on November 8th.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.