A judge dismissed the election contest filed by Precinct 3 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joe Flores, leaving Everado “Ever” Villarreal as the commissioner-elect for now.
The election contest was dismissed by visiting state District Judge J. Manuel Bañales, of Corpus Christi, on Tuesday following months of delays and appeals.
Most recently the 13th Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal filed by Villarreal’s attorney challenging a motion to dismiss the election contest.
The decision to dismiss the lawsuit comes months after Flores initially filed the election contest on March 24 challenging the results of the March primary.
“It appears that he went piece by piece through the evidence, and I think he finally saw through what they were trying to do, the fact that they didn’t have any evidence, and whatever they did have was false, falsified, manufactured or bribed evidence,” Javier Peña, who represents Villarreal said Friday.
Flores, who lost the primary to Villarreal by 92 votes, alleged that his challenger won the election as a result of illegal votes. A total of 19,982 votes were cast in the race, with Villarreal earning 10,037 to the incumbent’s 9,945, according to the Hidalgo County Elections Department.
“After much research and investigation, it appears that many illegal votes were cast which in turn influenced the outcome of the election,” Flores said in a Facebook post in March.
According to Villarreal’s attorney, witnesses who were under the affidavit denied claims made by Flores’ representatives.
“The people whose names were on the affidavit said, ‘That’s not even our affidavit. We didn’t sign that. We didn’t write that. We never said that,’” Peña said. “Other people said, ‘Hey, I got paid $300 to say this.’ That’s basically all their evidence, and they missed a bunch of deadlines on producing the evidence also, so that automatically got excluded.”
“(Bañales) decided not to waste the taxpayers time,” Peña continued. “If they can’t present valid evidence, it’s not proper to take people’s voice away and invalidate their votes with manufactured evidence. People voted for change, and that’s what they’re going to get.”
Orlando Garcia, who represents Flores, filed a motion to reconsider the motion for summary judgment. He said that he plans to file a notice of appeal in the hopes of expediting an appellate process and getting the case in a trial court.
“We’re obviously disheartened by it. We disagree with the judge’s ruling,” Garcia said.
Flores’ attorney attributed Bañales’s decision to errors.
“We outlined all of the mistakes that the judge made including reviewing the wrong affidavits, reviewing affidavits from the prior filing, not reading the affidavits believing that they failed to include certain language that they actually did include,” Garcia said. “There were a consolation of errors that were made partly because this was done remotely, sending things to the judge and the judge sending things on USB.
“They added up. They were not insignificant.”
Garcia said that he hopes to have a decision on his motion to reconsider the motion for summary judgement by Monday.
“We lament the judge’s decision,” Garcia said. “Fortunately, I think he’s apprised of the mistakes. He may change his mind, and we’re hoping that he does.”