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The Last Election: Friona lost the county seat bid

Once in awhile someone not well versed in Parmer County History will ask why the county seat is in Farwell. One can read Parmer County histories published in 1974 and 1981 to find the details of the move from Parmerton to Farwell in 1907, and one can hear many “legends” passed down through the generations concerning this election.

The purpose of this article is to document the story of the last election when citizens of Friona petitioned to move the county seat to Friona. Interestingly the election took place 95 years ago this Thanksgiving on November 28, 1928. Depending on ones point of view, you can be thankful the citizens of Friona tried to get the county seat moved to a more central location, or you can be thankful that even though they tried, they failed.

The election is well documented in the Friona Star beginning with the October 19, 1928 edition when a headline reads, “VOTERS WANT ELECTION FOR COUNTY SEAT”. A petition calling for the election was signed by over 300 citizens of the county and presented to County Judge E. F. Lokey who granted the election which was to be held on Monday, November 26.

The November 9 edition proclaims, “CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TALKS OVER PROPOSITION OF MOVING COUNTY SEAT TO THIS TOWN”. Apparently the main reason for the movement was that the county was going to spend $30,000 to build a jail. Friona residents reasoned that a jail could be built in connection with a court house in Friona on land deeded free to the county.

In the November 16 Star, a headline reads, “County Seat Election Will Be Held Wednesday, November 28”. An article states that anyone living in the state and county the limit of time set by the state law and who has paid the poll tax for the year can vote. In the same edition a letter from the Friona Chamber of Commerce supports the moving of the county seat and makes the case using facts with monetary amounts showing there will be no need to raise taxes. It is signed by F. W. Reeve, J. A. Blackwell, F. L. Spring, and J. W. White.

There is also an article from the State Line Tribune quoting an article published by the Clovis Journal. The article lists reasons why the change to Friona would not benefit many. The November 23 Friona Star includes a full page listing of reasons why the county seat should be established in Friona. There is even an architectural drawing of what the purposed court house would look like in Friona.

However, the Friona Star Friday, November 30 edition proclaims, “Friona Loses County Seat Removal Election by 207 Votes.” A total of 1252 votes were cast. Friona received 628 votes and Farwell 624, but the removal of the county seat required a two-thirds majority…thus the 207 figure. In a separate front page article there is a statement regarding the teamwork and effort required to have a system of voting that “worked so perfectly that it is thought there was not a single voter that was not reached by some part of the system during the day, and each part worked in perfect harmony with each other part.”

The previous quote is a testament to the citizens of Parmer County and their willingness to work together to have a fair election. Notice there is no mention of a particular party affiliation or labels or name calling involved. And most interesting of all are some quotes from citizens under “Just Remarks”. The following are two of them: “What I’ve learned and the fun I’ve had in this county seat contest is worth lots more than it cost,” AND “Sure would like to have got the court house, but I have no regret.”