Whitson Says He Plans to Withdraw from Councilor At-Large Race

A candidate for the at-large councilor position for Wichita Falls now says he plans to withdraw from the election.

As far as we know, candidate Steve Whitson has not officially withdrawn yet, but he tells us to expect a written statement by Monday.

For those who don't remember, Whitson filed to run for district three councilor in last year's election but was ruled ineligible because he was not a registered voter in his district.

If his name is withdrawn in this election, it would mean the city would only have to set up polling places in two districts, not all across the city.

Mayor Glenn Barham says that would save around $10,000.

Whitson says he's a consultant in the oil and gas industry and was just recently offered a contract to help bring a couple hundred jobs to Wichita Falls, so he is too busy to campaign.

The deadline for a candidate to withdraw from an election is three days after the filing deadline, which was March 1st.

Whitson said at that time, he was out of the state and could not make it back in time to withdraw his name.

Whitson said he is withdrawing because of job demands, but we have learned that he has a criminal record.

City officials say people who have been convicted of a felony are barred from serving on the council.  

A records search indicates Whitson guilty to a burglary of a building charge, which is a felony, in Young County in 1990.

He received three years probation for that charge.

Then in 1999, he pleaded not guilty to a theft of property under $20-thousand charge, also out of Young County, but he was found guilty of that charge, too, and sentenced to five years probation.

He appealed his conviction, but that conviction was upheld.

Whitson tells us the allegations that led to his convictions are false and says that he would provide us with documentation to prove it, but we haven't heard back from him.

He also told us he plans to "return even stronger in future elections."

We also spoke to at-large candidate Michael Smith, but he declined comment.

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