Polls open for runoff votes in San Juan, Mercedes

DINA ARÉVALO AND MITCHELL FERMAN | STAFF WRITERS

Voters in Mercedes and San Juan will once again head to the polls Saturday to settle runoff elections for seats on the municipalities’ respective city commissions.

In Mercedes, incumbent Rubén “Chano” Guajardo and former Commissioner Jose Gomez are vying for Place 4 on the city commission after May’s four-way race resulted in no one candidate gaining more than 50% of the vote.

A total of 1,013 residents cast their ballots during early voting, county records show.

Guajardo won more votes than the other three candidates in May with 498 votes (37.87%). With 440 votes, Gomez secured 33.46% of the May vote.

The remaining two challengers, Lucy Delgado and Velda Garcia, won 23.95% and 4.71% of the vote, respectively.

Triggering a runoff was all part of Gomez’s plan, he said late last month. “My goal was keep it under 40% and let’s move from there, build from there. And that’s exactly what we did,” Gomez said.

Guajardo said he looks forward to the outcome of today’s runoff.

“At the end of the day the democratic process will unfold before our very own eyes and at the end of the day, the people are the ones that elect any elected official,” Guajardo said.

Polls will be open today at the Mercedes Civic Center, 520 E. Second St. from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The polls for the city of San Juan’s runoff election between incumbent Commissioner Pete Garcia and teacher Marco “Markie” Villegas will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

The two polling sites will be Fire Station No. 2 and Carman Elementary.

Over the last two weeks, during the early voting period, there were 2,093 ballots cast, according to the Hidalgo County Elections Department.

In the May general election, in which no candidate reached the 50% threshold needed to win outright, Garcia received 1,175 votes (48%) compared to Villegas’s 1,024 votes (42%). The third candidate, Fernando Castillo, received 244 votes (10%).

Garcia and Villegas have since become embroiled in a temporary restraining order after the challenger accused the incumbent of defamation.

By the time state District Judge Rose Guerra Reyna considers the TRO at a Monday court hearing, the runoff will have already been decided.