Though most of the races proved utterly predictable this year, Election Day brought two runoffs, one major upset, and showed us just how dismal San Antonio's voter turnout can be – only 7 percent of registered Bexar County voters graced us with their presence at the polls this year.
With no serious challenger, Mayor Julián Castro handily won his second term with just over 81 percent of the vote and is now set to lead SA through the first years of its ambitious SA2020 plan. Other races that proved anticlimactic as results came in: District 2 (Councilwoman Ivy Taylor took 85 percent of the vote), District 6 (Councilman Ray Lopez was reelected with 78 percent of the vote, beating Pete Galaviz and pot-friendly challenger Steve Shamblen), District 8 (Councilman Reed Williams is back with 79 percent of the vote) and District 9 (Councilwoman Elisa Chan easily won reelection with 82 percent of the vote, despite an outstanding ethics charge against her).
But one of the most watched races this year isn’t over. The race for District 1, which seemed a tossup between four strong candidates going into Election Day, was whittled down to two Saturday night. Lawyer, local musician, and activist Diego Bernal, who won 40.5 percent of the vote, now heads for a runoff against retired fireman Ralph Medina, who took 28.44 percent of the district vote.
Celebrating with friends and family at Los Barrios Mexican Restaurant Saturday night, Bernal said, “I think people had a lot of good choices to pick from this year.
I’m encouraged, humbled and thankful I was one of them.”
Medina, at a small election night party at Frank’s Hog Stand, said his years of involvement with District 1 neighborhood associations sets him apart in the runoff, but added, “Diego’s a very strong and capable candidate. I think District 1 is going to benefit no matter what happens [in the runoff].”
Chris Forbrich and Carolyn Kelley only took 12 and 16 percent of the vote, respectively. Perennial candidate Lauro Bustamante, never seriously considered in the race, got only 2.83 percent of the vote.
The biggest shock of the night came from the south side, where 24-year-old Stanford grad Rey Saldaña won the District 4 seat, beating out Leticia Cantu, once considered a shoe-in with wide support from the political establishment. Saldaña won 52 percent of the vote compared to Cantu’s 39 percent.
Before a packed room of supporters at a Southside YMCA, Saldaña said, “People didn’t expect this. Passion has a funny way of trumping logic.”
In District 3, despite an ugly and bitter race, incumbent Councilwoman Jennifer Ramos easily beat challenger Liz Campos, who took only 22 percent of the vote compared to Ramos’ 73 percent. Ernest Zamora Jr. garnered only 5 percent of the vote.
District 5 avoided a repeat of the past two election cycles, with Councilman David Medina easily winning his third consecutive race against Lourdes Galvan. While the two battled in runoffs the last two cycles, Medina took 70 percent of the vote, while Galvan took 26 percent.
But District 7, a race packed with five candidates, now heads to a runoff with Cris Medina, with took 48.16 percent of the vote Saturday night, and Elena Guajardo, who won 19.9 percent of the vote. Gloria Rodriguez won 19.45 percent while Fred Rangel took 10.32 percent.
Carlton Soules in District 10, with 50.08 percent, narrowly squeaked across the runoff threshold, beating challengers Bud Little, 38.54 percent, and Laura Thompson, 8.73 percent. Out-of-state college student Isy Perez drummed up only 2.65 percent.
Despite unlikely support from likes of Mayor Castro, Democratic State Reps Ruth McClendon and Mike Villarreal, charter school advocate Joy McGhee lost her bid for the SAISD board. Also, look for former councilwoman Patti Radle as a new face on the SAISD board.
In Alamo Heights, Mayor Louis Cooper won his reelection bid with 66.34 percent against challenger Bill Kiel’s 32.69 percent. Oh, and that voter-initiated petition to control building height in Alamo Heights? John Joseph and his AHNA
successfully quashed that, with only 47.71 percent of 09ers voting for the measure.