Mesquite mayor fares well despite FBI investigation

An FBI investigation and a stack of nasty attack ads couldn’t keep Mesquite Mayor Bill Nicholes from getting the most votes in the primary election.

Nicholes nearly earned enough votes on Tuesday to win a second term outright. Instead, he will have to settle for a general election fight against City Councilwoman Susan Holecheck, who earned a spot on the June 5 ballot with 34 percent of the vote.

Nicholes pulled in more than 46 percent, and City Councilman Robert “Bubba” Smith finished third, and out of the running, with 20 percent.

Nicholes first-place finish came just days after he publicly acknowledged that he is the subject of an FBI probe into numerous allegations from misuse of a city vehicle to taking kickbacks from developers and funneling of money from a charitable donation into his wife’s account.

The mayor held a news conference in Mesquite last week to deny all of the accusations against him. He also used the occasion to publicize the criminal background of a Mesquite resident he said is out to ruin him.

Nicholes also singled out Holecheck for criticism during the news conference.

During early voting, several voters said they thought the allegations against Nicholes had been drummed up by his political enemies.

“It was a pretty heated election,” said Deputy City Clerk Sheree Goessman.

As a result, turnout was heavy in Mesquite, where ballots were cast by almost 59 percent of the city’s 5,570 eligible registered voters.

Despite his loss, Smith will remain on the council to complete the last two years of his term.

If Nicholes defeats Holecheck in June, she also will stay on the council for two more years.

If Holecheck wins, someone will be appointed to complete her current term.

An incumbent also fared well in Mesquite’s other primary race, a six-way contest for two seats on the City Council.

With the top four finishers advancing to the general election, Councilman Dave Bennett led all comers with 32 percent of the vote.

Real estate agent W. G. “Geno” Withelder and retired school administrator Randy J. Ence nearly tied for second, with 21.5 percent and 21.4 percent respectively, a difference of just 10 votes.

Former City Councilman J. Scott Fisher rounded out the general election field with 14 percent.

Business owner Charles “Charlie” Sellner was fifth with 8 percent. Former truck driver Glen Fedorsic was sixth with 3 percent.

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