Once considered a long-shot in the race for District 1, Diego Bernal rocketed to front-runner status within the last two months of his campaign. And by Saturday, Bernal, a local civil rights attorney and musician, skated to an easy victory in District 1, winning 63 percent of the vote in his runoff with retired firefighter Ralph Medina.
Bernal, a political unknown before his plunge into the D1 race, raised a relatively paltry sum of campaign cash compared to his opponents, yet toward the end of the campaign he garnered broad support from the local political elite. At his Saturday night victory party at Los Barrios Mexican Restaurant, the likes of Henry Cisneros and the Castro twins showed to cheer him on.
Diego came out ahead by wide margins in both the general election and in the runoff, something he credited to tireless efforts by his campaign staff and supporters. Taking in the victory, Bernal remarked, “The whole trajectory of this story, of this campaign, isn’t lost on me.”
Bernal will take over the downtown D1 seat, vacated by the term-limited Mary Alice Cisneros, as the city strives revitalize its urban core, an effort Mayor Julían Castro has dubbed the “decade of down town.” At Bernal’s victory party, Castro gave Bernal glowing praise, saying he’s the right councilman to help craft a renewed vision for downtown San Antonio.
Bernal seemed proudest of the broad range of support he’d gained throughout the campaign, saying his victory party showed local leaders rubbing elbows with everyday hotel and restaurant workers. “There are lobbyists and developers standing next to people who fix beds and clean rooms for a living,” he said.
In another Saturday runoff, Cris Medina, a Navy reservist and former council aid, beat former Councilwoman Elena Guajardo by an astonishing margin.