The long-running McAllen ISD election contest for trustee Place 4 between Gina Karam Millin and Tony Forina has finally come to an end.
In a final judgement entered on Dec. 30, senior District Judge Romeo M. Flores found that Karam Millin had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the outcome of the election was not true.
“Here we have two fine people embattled in a bitter, hard fought election contest,” Flores wrote in a letter to the contestant’s lawyers that was attached to the final judgement. “The question for the court is whether there is clear and convincing evidence that would warrant overturning the election and calling for a new election. After reviewing the evidence and arguments of counsel, this Court finds that there is not.”
The court also awarded costs against Karam Millin.
Ron Hole, Karam Millin’s attorney, said they won’t be appealing the ruling.
“We’re going to accept the judge’s ruling,” Hole said. “He just basically said that he didn’t feel there was clear and convincing evidence that the outcome of the election was affected. That’s it.”
Hole said he and Karam Millin were disappointed in the ruling, but accept it as the end of the contest.
“Disappointed, but we understand the judge took everybody’s arguments into stride, and that’s the decision he came up with. It was going to be a close call either way,” he said. “It’s the end of it.”
Karam Millin herself did not respond to requests for comment by press time, but she did address the decision in a post on her Facebook page Friday afternoon.
“Although we feel we produced ample evidence to support our claims, the judge apparently did not think we met the high burden imposed by law. I respect the judge’s decision, as these are difficult cases to prove,” she wrote in the statement. “I appreciate the opportunity that our legal system provided to bring my allegations to light, and I felt I owed it to all of you that supported me and to every person who pays taxes in McAllen to understand how our school district uses its resources.”
Karam Millin thanked her supporters in the statement and said that she intends to continue being involved in the community.
Forina said he’s pleased with the outcome of the trial.
“Obviously I’m ecstatic,” Forina said. “We didn’t do anything wrong, we knew we hadn’t done anything wrong. We appreciate her enthusiasm to get elected, but we knew the results were going to be in our favor the whole way.”
Forina says the ruling affirms what he’s been saying all along: that he won fair and square.
“I won an election and I had an opponent that was very upset,” Forina said. “It was a highly debated contest…we each did what we had to do to win.”
Forina and Karam Millin have disputed the winner of the trustee seat since May, when the election was originally held.
A recount in May confirmed Forina’s victory, but Karam Millin and Hole filed a petition challenging the results in June, citing a litany of factors they said tilted the odds in Forina’s favor.
Alleged factors cited in the petition included improper notice of polling locations, ballots being cast by ineligible voters and the improper use of district funds to influence the election.
The case went to trial on Dec. 4.