The two major counties in the Rio Grande Valley, Hidalgo and Cameron County had a total of five city elections, four school board elections, a $25 million bond package, one special utility district, one irrigation district, and a major navigation district for the Port of Brownsville. Four elections took the spotlight on Saturday, below are the unofficial results.
City of Mission
In the Rio Grande Valley, as far as the local elections are concerned, attention is focused on the city of Mission’s three-way mayoral race between incumbent of 20 years Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas, Jaime Gutierrez, and Armando “Doc” O’Caña. Incumbent Salinas failed to win the majority by 2 votes with 49.97% of the vote, with 3,085 votes cast. On May 11th, the ballot board will reconvene and submit an official recount and decide from there whether to participate in a run-off. Mayoral Candidate Armando “Doc” Ocaña vacated his seat on city council place 4 causing a special election between three candidates: Julian J. Gonzalez, Gus Martinez, and John Robert “Doc” Guerra that resulted in a run-off between Gonzalez and Martinez since nobody received the majority of the vote. Only 16.17% (6,202) of the 38,345 registered voters in Mission cast their ballots for mayoral, city council place 1, place 4, and the uncontested race for place 3.
The Agua Special Utility District (SUD) represents about 15,000 residents in western Hidalgo County. Team Liberty, AKA the Agua SUD board members’ slate won all four races in the Agua SUD election as incumbents for Sullivan City, Mission, and Peñitas continue to remain in power. New to the board is La Joya Police Chief Adolfo Arriaga, who won the new seat for La Joya Board of Directors. Arriaga promises to bring leadership skills from law enforcement to the utility board. The largest employer of Agua SUD remains to be La Joya ISD, and as both Agua SUD and La Joya ISD are currently under investigation by the Texas Rangers, it seems to not make any difference with the community as the same board continues to be in power. Since there were no other races in western Hidalgo County, the Agua SUD election was the focus for the rural population, with almost 40% of registered voters cast their ballots in these four elections.
Port of Brownsville
The Port of Brownsville is an important part of the Rio Grande Valley’s economy and is composed of a five-member board that approves of it’s billion-dollar budget. The Port of Brownsville consists of 40,000 acres of land and provides 44,000 jobs and $3 billion annually back into the economy. In its recent 2018 Port of Brownsville Commissioner Election, two races occurred for place 2 and place 4. Place 4 was recently vacated by commissioner Carlos Masso in his race for 197th District Court which is in a runoff against Adolfo Cordova on May 22. According to the Port of Brownsville website, incumbent John Wood won with 52.16% (3,158 votes) against challenger Brownsville ISD Board President Cesar Lopez with 47.84% (2,896 votes). For Place 4, it appears Steve Guerra won the majority in the three-way race with 44.90% (2,710 votes).
City of McAllen
City of McAllen $25 million bond packages passed with only 1728 votes cast. Proposition A , which calls for drainage improvements requiring $22 million in bonds, passed with only 977 for and 728 against. Proposition B passed with 1024 for and 680 against, which also called for traffic signal upgrades requiring $3 million. McAllen City Commissioner Pct. 2 Joaquin J.J. Zamora took to his Facebook on the results in voter turnout, “In our city of McAllen reside 145,000 inhabitants, of which there are 68,118 registered voters. Only 821 voted during the early voting period for 2018 Bond Election. That is: 1.2% of eligible voters voted. The low turnout is not voter registration, its voter participation. What are we doing wrong? Thoughts??” Of course, this is to be expected as in the 2013 bond election, city of McAllen passed three separate $15 million bonds with only 13 percent of registered voters. Regardless of the city’s attempts to provide information to the voter this cycle, voter participation reduced drastically from 2013. Only 2.5 percent of McAllen’s registered voters passed this bond package. This bond will raise property taxes for 20 to 25 years.
Statewide, voter participation has reached all-time lows, and has decreased drastically in non-presidential elections, and even more in local elections. However, if we wish to combat the increase in our property taxes, residents need to pay more attention to what’s occurring at the local level.