Former Mission mayor requests Texas Supreme Court review of election contest

Armando O'Caña waves to voters during run-off elections for mayor for the City of Mission Saturday, June 9, 2018.

Attorneys for former Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas filed a petition Monday requesting the Texas Supreme Court review their appeal of a lower court’s decision to deny him a new mayoral election.

Salinas failed to win re-election in the June 2018 mayoral runoff election after 20 years in office, falling to Armando O’Caña, who served as a councilman at the time. Salinas subsequently filed an election contest challenging the results, accusing the O’Cañas campaign of bribing and illegally assisting voters.

Following a nine-day trial last fall, a judge ruled in favor of Salinas by voiding the runoff election.

However, attorneys for Salinas quickly appealed the ruling and in March, the 13th Court of Appeals, sided with O’Caña via a split decision by reversing the trial court ruling.

Chief Justice Dori Contreras and Justice Gina M. Benavides issued the majority opinion finding that the evidence was insufficient to prove enough illegal votes were cast to have affected the outcome of the election. Justice Leticia Hinojosa dissented.

Now, Salinas’ attorneys hope the state’s highest court will review the case.

In the petition, they state that the appellate court did not correctly apply the standard of review and made other legal errors when considering the evidence.

As to why the court should take up the case, Salinas’ attorneys state “this case’s fact pattern could easily serve as a law-school exam on election contests.”

They allege that the case involves evidence of orchestrated voter fraud that exceeds the margin of victory in the runoff election and involves the destruction of evidence and “subpoena dodging.”

“Unfortunately, this is not a law school exam,” the attorneys state in the petition. “The will of Mission’s voters has been usurped, and their voice is not truly being heard.”

They argue that although it is uncertain exactly how many illegal votes were cast, “the effects of the fraud are certain, as are the far-reaching effects of the court-of-appeal’s errors.”

O’Caña has adamantly denied any wrongdoing.