In Peñitas, incumbents Rodrigo “Rigo” Lopez, Jose Roel “J.R.” Flores and Ramiro Loya — running on the “Peñ1tas” slate, an offshoot of Team L1berty, a prominent political team in western Hidalgo County politics — were victorious in their reelection bids Saturday evening.
With with 999 votes, Lopez took 68 percentage of the vote in the mayoral race against opponent Marcos Ochoa, while the former Mayor of Peñitas, received only 464 votes.
Lopez, 35, will continue as the city’s mayor having now defeated Ochoa twice, once in 2015 when he unseated Ochoa as the city’s mayor. The mayor previously served on the board of directors for the Agua Special Utility District. He is currently an administrator at the La Joya Independent School District.
Ochoa, 64, served as a city commissioner for a decade and as the mayor for seven years.
Earlier this year, Ochoa, a retired inspector for the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, said he was running again because he believed the city hadn’t gone anywhere in the last four years.
Lopez, in a news release in February, challenged Ochoa’s assessment, and stated he believed the city had grown “tremendously” since he took office nearly four years ago.
Flores, 49, defeated Osiel Ramos in the Place 2 commission race with 66 percentage of the vote.
The director of federal and state programs for the school district, Flores received 953 votes while Ramos, a teacher at the La Joya school district, garnered 496 votes.
Making it a sweep for the incumbents, Loya, manager of the school district’s custodial department, beat Esmeralda “Esmer” Medina, a former clerk for the city, for the Place 4 seat with 956 votes to Medina’s 495 votes.
Loya, 69, previously served on the city commission from 1996 to 1998, stepping down due to “personal reasons.”
Loya, who said he returned to the commission because he loved to serve the city, is familiar with his running mates. In 2015, Loya ran with Lopez and Flores.
During his campaign, Loya cited the launch of Peñitas’ volunteer fire department and EMS services as a few of the city’s accomplishments within the last few years.
“ We have some projects going on and we’d like to see that finished and also to continue seeing growth here in Peñitas,” Loya said.
Medina, who ran on the “Peñitas Pride” political slate with Ramos and Ochoa, worked at the city from October 2008 to April 2018, first as an administrative assistant before working in the permitting department and then as a utility clerk at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Citing her experience within the city, Medina believed there was a need for more transparency and financial accountability at the city level.
Saturday’s election was the first time Peñitas citizens voted for who would sit on the commission since 2015 after the 2017 elections were cancelled due to a lack of challengers to the incumbents on the Place 1 and 3 seats.
Sullivan City Prop
With more than 87% of the vote, residents in Sullivan City voted to dissolve the city’s economic development corporation and create a municipal development district in its place — directing the half-cent sales tax imposed within the city from the EDC to the MDD.