Early voter turnout abysmal in McAllen as city candidates jockey for seats

McALLEN — City commission candidates here made their last efforts to lure voters for the final day of early voting Tuesday, and aside from Victor “Seby” Haddad, hopefuls in the race for the District 5 seat have not been fundraising or spending much money on the race.

That doesn’t mean they haven’t been campaigning.

In the close contest for southwest McAllen’s District 4 post, Joe Califa, a retired city planner, and Tania Ramirez, an attorney, both fundraised less than $5,000 over the last several weeks, and spent just over that, as both candidates had plenty of money in the bank prior to April. Both candidates have also been constantly campaigning and block-walking.

Despite their efforts, turnout at the polls has been abysmal. Just 1,159 ballots were cast, including provisional ballots, through Monday, according to the McAllen city secretary’s office. Tuesday was the final day for early voting.

What correlation spending had to voter turnout is unclear, but all the candidates feel the race is within reach, or at least a runoff.

District 5 commissioner John Ingram, who has never lost an election and has been on the city commission since 2005, has not spent any money in April, according to the campaign finance reports that were due eight days before Election Day, which is Saturday.

Ingram said he had already bought all his signs and push cards to place in front doors of residents who don’t answer their door when he has knocked, so he said there wasn’t anything else for which to spend money.

Ingram is widely known throughout the central McAllen district, in part because of his annual block walks, faces challenges from Haddad, a banker and a businessman, and Mark Murray, a South Texas College professor. Haddad, as of Friday, still had more than $41,000 in the bank. Murray had no money left in the bank and, similarly to Ingram, only fundraised $100 throughout most of April, according to campaign finance reports.

Tuesday was the final day for early voting, and low voting numbers could signal a runoff election in District 5 if none of the candidates secures more than 50% of the vote. The city has determined that, if needed, June 22 will be the runoff date, since June 15 and 29 are too close to Father’s Day and the Fourth of July, respectively.

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