Less than 48 hours before Election Day, community members at the heart of two of the hottest races on Saturday's ballot say they are encouraged by voter turnout.

Mayor Nancy Hunter said she was "excited" by the number of early voters who flocked to the polls and said she anticipates a large Election Day turnout.

"I am encouraged by the support I have received and the large number of people who have cast their vote for me," Hunter said. "I remain optimistic I will be re-elected to a third term as mayor of Stephenville and look forward to seeing election returns Saturday night."

She also commended volunteers who have run "a fair and honest campaign" based on her record and actual facts.

Kenny Weldon, a retired Air Force colonel who is challenging Mayor Nancy Hunter for her seat at the helm of the Stephenville City Council, said Thursday it has been a "great week."

"It's exciting," Weldon said. "Turnout has been phenomenal. It is encouraging to see people exercising their right to vote."

At the close of early voting Tuesday, 1,687 ballots had been cast in city elections, which compared to the 1,195 voters who weighed on city and school elections combined in May 2010.

Weldon said he is "humbled" by the support his campaign has received.

"From those who helped with my campaign and those I've talked to across the community," he said. "I am looking forward to seeing Saturday's results. Until then, we are taking things one day at a time."

Christin Pack, co-chair of the Vote For SISD Bond political action committee (PAC), is also encouraged by voter turnout.

The committee was organized to garner support for the $24 million facility improvement package on the Stephenville ISD ballot which will renovate Central and Chamberlin Elementary campuses if it is passed by voters.

"I am just really proud to see people getting out to vote no matter how they are voting," Pack said. "I am glad they are doing their civic duty."

Within Stephenville ISD, 2,342 early ballots were cast, which compares to the 2,530 voters who weighed in on a similar but more costly measure in 2010 that failed by a slight margin.

"It has been encouraging to see how many people genuinely care about the well being of the community," Pack said. "We did everything from registering voters to helping nursing home residents with obtaining mail-in ballots."

She said 100 voters were registered by PAC members, focusing efforts on parents whose children would benefit from improvements to the two campuses and branching out from there.

"It was interesting to see who hadn't previously taken the time to vote," Pack said.

Finally, she said in a final effort to attract voters to the polls on Saturday, community members are invited to an Election Day rally from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Downtown Plaza.

"Do something sweet for our kids," Pack said. "Vote for the bond and then come and join us for sweet treats and drinks."

The Empire-Tribune will provide up-to-the-minute coverage of Saturday's election returns. Early voting totals will be available just minutes after polls close at 7 p.m. Visit our website at yourstephenvilletx.com for breaking news and see Sunday's edition for complete coverage of area campaigns.