The appeal of a judge’s ruling to void the Mission mayoral June runoff will be accelerated, the 13th court of appeals ruled Monday, allowing the case to take precedence.
Carlos Escobar, one of the attorneys representing Mission Mayor Armando O’Caña said he filed a motion to accelerate the case with the appeals court because of its significance.
“This is the ultimate political decision,” Escobar said. “You want to be able to tell the citizens of Mission that their vote either counted or it didn’t.”
The ultimate outcome of the appeals process will determine whether or not the city of Mission would have to hold another election in the mayor’s race.
The results of the election in question, the June runoff, reflected a victory for O’Caña over longtime Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas.
However, allegations of illegal vote harvesting during the election on the part of the O’Caña campaign were laid out in an election contest filed by attorney Ricardo “Rick” Salinas on behalf of his father, Beto Salinas.
The ensuing nine-day trial included testimony from people who admitted to receiving money in exchange for their votes, from people who said they were illegally assisted at the polling sites, and from voters who said described being illegally assisted with their mail-in ballots.
O’Caña has maintained he did not do anything illegal.
In rendering his verdict, Judge J. Bonner Dorsey said he could not ascertain the true outcome of the election.
Rick Salinas said he was in favor of accelerating the appeal because he hoped to remove O’Caña from office as soon as possible.
“We need to get rid of the guy who’s in there right now,” Salinas said of O’Caña, criticizing the city council’s actions under his leadership.
With regard to the appeals process, Salinas noted he would be unable to file a brief until O’Caña’s attorneys perfected their appeal which could also be accelerated depending on Dorsey orders, according to Escobar.
Dorsey is expected to determine how quickly the briefing is going to be done, along with other ancillary matters, during a hearing on Friday.
Salinas said he believed it would be difficult for the O’Caña camp to overturn Dorsey’s findings while Escobar said the Salinas legal team had procedural and substantive problems with their case.
Escobar specifically pointed to the lack of testimony on the official canvass of the votes and which votes were actually counted, an argument he made during closing arguments.
However, during those closing arguments, the Salinas legal team responded that they had presented evidence of the official margin of victory for June runoff.
If the appellate court were to rule against Salinas and his father’s campaign, he said the case could still be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.