Incumbent defeated in heated San Juan runoff that spawned defamation allegations

Candidates for San Juan City Commission Mark Villegas and Pete Garcia

Marco “Markie” Villegas will be San Juan’s next Place No. 5 City Commissioner, defeating incumbent Commissioner Pete Garcia in a runoff election by about 10 percentage points, according to unofficial elections results.

Villegas, a teacher, received 1,556 votes (55%) compared to Garcia’s 1,267 votes (45%), according to the Hidalgo County Elections Department.

A bulk of the total 2,823 ballots cast in the election were during the early voting period, with 701 ballots cast on Saturday.

The result from the general election in early May that sent this race to a runoff election was tight, with no candidate reaching 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 are currently embroiled in a temporary restraining order scheduled to be heard by state District Judge Rose Guerra Reyna on Monday. Accused of defamation for allegedly publishing a flyer in print and online that falsely linked Villegas to several crimes, Garcia has denied the allegations in a filing that seeks the judge’s dismissal of the case.

Previous coverage

San Juan commissioner responds to TRO as runoff vote nears

UPDATE: San Juan candidate files TRO against incumbent opponent

New commissioner elected in Pharr, San Juan incumbent headed for runoff