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The battle for re-election isn’t over for three members of City Council who now must win a June 5 runoff to hold onto their seats.District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño, District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan and District 9 Councilman John Courage all failed to collect more than 50 percent of the votes in their districts.
Treviño will face off against environmental activist Mario Bravo. Andrews-Sullivan must vie with her former communications director, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez. And Courage must grapple with conservative firebrand Patrick Von Dohlen.
All other council members seeking re-election sailed to victory, while open seats in districts 3 and 5 generated two additional runoffs.
Saturday’s election marks the second time Treviño, an architect, has been forced into a runoff. In 2017, the councilman had to keep fending off first-time candidate Michael Montaño, ultimately defeating him that year by about two percentage points.
On Saturday night, Bravo called that earlier victory a “squeaker” and said he was in a “much stronger position” against Treviño. He trailed the councilman by about 11 points, 34 to 45 percent, at 10: 30 p.m.
“People are ready for change,” Bravo said. “They’re not seeing results. Right now, our current council member’s slogan is ‘plans not promises.’ I think people want to see results, not plans.”
Bravo, 45, has slammed Treviño over his approach to homelessness, particularly his policy of welcoming those experiencing homelessness to congregate at his district field office in the Dellview neighborhood. That policy has angered some residents, who complain it has made their streets less safe.
Treviño, 50, was the lone council incumbent to support Proposition B, which would strip from San Antonio police officers the right to bargain for wages and benefits. While Bravo helped activists last summer get the proposition on the ballot, he declined to take a position on the divisive measure.
On Saturday, Treviño said a runoff would not change his approach to the ongoing campaign.
“I think it’s just getting the message out,” he said. “We’re not going to change course right now.”
Bravo, meanwhile, predicted an upset.
“When you’re a challenger, you’re building the plane as you fly it,” he said. “You have to ramp up. And we’ve just been ramping up and ramping up and ramping up and building momentum. Today, we are the strongest we’ve ever been. Tomorrow, we’re going to be stronger.”
A crowded slate of candidates is now down to two for the runoff.
Incumbent Jada Andrews-Sullivan was about 10 percentage points behind her former communications director, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez late Saturday night.
Andrews-Sullivan, who was first elected in 2019, faced 11 challengers, including McKee-Rodriguez, who currently teaches math at James Madison High School.
With early, mail-in and partial election day results in, McKee-Rodriguez had received 26.4 percent of the District 2 votes. Andrews-Sullivan had received 16.8 percent.
“Going into this runoff, it just means our district is truly looking for the change that we need, and we’ll continue to do the work,” Andrews-Sullivan said.
McKee-Rodriguez said his campaign is “what District 2 has been waiting for.”
“I’m excited at the prospect of representing working class families that for too long have been neglected and have been pushed aside for the interests of developers and corporations and (the San Antonio Police Officers Association),” he said.
Norris Tyrone Darden, the dean of special programs at George Gervin Academy, was coming in third with 14 percent of the vote.
District 2 hasn’t seen a second-term incumbent since Ivy Taylor was re-elected in 2013.
In District 3 — San Antonio’s largest council district, spanning 84 square miles on the South and Southeast sides — it appears Phyllis Viagran and Tomás Uresti are headed for a runoff to replace Viagran’s younger sister on the City Council.
Rebecca Viagran, who has served on council for eight years, could not seek re-election because of term limits.
Phyllis Viagran led a pack of a dozen candidates Saturday, capturing 22 percent of the vote, based on incomplete returns.
If she emerges the victor in the June 5 runoff, this will be her first time to hold an elected office.
Viagran, 48, who teaches seniors how to use digital technology, was more than 700 votes ahead of Uresti, who captured 15 percent of the vote.
“I’m feeling really good about how things look,” Viagran said. “I think once the voters got to know me and see the vision I have ... in terms of moving us through this pandemic and back to work, they agree with that. And they want strong leadership to get that done.”
Uresti, 60, is a former Texas state representative and past Harlandale Independent School District board president. Two of his brothers are well known — Albert Uresti serves as Bexar County tax assessor-collector, while former state Sen. Carlos Uresti is serving 12 years in federal prison after an investment fraud scandal.
Tomás Uresti said a runoff was expected with so many candidates in the race. Several of those contenders privately told him they will back him “because they don’t want another Viagran in office,” he said.
“I think the voters supported me because I was the only candidate that had the experience to be able to hit the ground running when we take office,” Uresti said. “It will be a lot easier to get things done. I won’t have to be trained on how to do this job.”
Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia was coasting to a second term Saturday with about 71 percent of the vote, based on unofficial returns.
Trailing her were challengers David Tristán, Raymond Guzman and Curtis Mueller, who each had between 9 and 10 percent of the vote.
Garcia made history two years ago as the first woman elected to represent the district on San Antonio’s Southwest Side. She’s an assistant professor of marketing at Our Lady of the Lake University and a former vice president of communications for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Teri Castillo is running for City Council in District 5.Courtesy Photo
Based on partial returns, political newcomers Teri Castillo and Rudy Lopez appeared headed for a June 5 runoff for the City Council District 5 seat, outdistancing a crowded field.
Eleven candidates in the near West Side district vied to succeed Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, who is leaving office after hitting the city’s eight-year term limit.
Castillo, 29, is an educator and a member of the Texas Organizing Project and the Historic Westside Residents Association.
Based on unofficial returns that included mail ballots, votes cast in early voting and Election Day ballots, Castillo was leading with more than 30 percent of the vote.
Lopez, 51, a retired city employee, was in second, followed by Norberto “Geremy” Landin, 25, executive director of Con Corazón San Antonio.
Rudy Lopez, candidate for City Council District 5.
The district encompasses some of San Antonio’s poorest neighborhoods. Candidates emphasized post-pandemic economic recovery, affordable housing, education, public safety and infrastructure.
Castillo said she was running a campaign “grounded in social and economic justice” with a goal of moving the city away from a “downtown-centric model.”
She has vowed to guard against gentrification and displacement of the working poor and to expand public involvement in policymaking and budgeting.
“We definitely need to do a better job at integrating communities, not only in the policymaking process but when it comes to budgeting as well,” she told the Express-News Editorial Board.
Lopez said his eight years as president and vice president of the Thompson Neighborhood Association inspired him to run for council. He said wants to protect homeowners from increases in the cost of living and make sure developers provide adequate affordable housing and internet access for families with school-age children.
“I’ve learned how to leverage what we need. I’ve learned how to work with city departments. I’ve learned how to get sidewalks, streets, lighting, public safety,” Lopez said. “Basically, we need to protect our legacy homeowners. We need to hold our developers accountable.”
Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda was outdistancing four challengers on her way to a second term representing the West-Northwest Side district.
Havrda had 56 percent of the vote, while her closest competitor, Irina Rudolph, had almost 28 percent, according to unofficial returns. They were trailed by Robert Hernandez, Robert Walker and Chris Baecker.
Havrda, who has a law degree from St. Mary’s University and an MBA from the University of Texas at San Antonio, is an attorney who specializes in disability law.
She once worked for former Mayor Ed Garza, then served as project coordinator for former Mayor Lila Cockrell and former Councilwoman Bonnie Conner at the San Antonio Parks Foundation.
She chairs the City Council Public Safety Committee and the Municipal Courts Advisory Committee.
Voters re-elected Councilwoman Ana Sandoval to a third term by a wide margin. Sandoval had 70 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns, easily defeating her only challenger, Texas Army National Guard veteran Patricia Ann Varela.
Sandoval was first elected to represent the West Side district in 2017.
She was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and came to San Antonio as an infant. She was valedictorian of her Jefferson High School graduating class and went on to earn degrees in engineering and public health from Harvard, MIT and Stanford.
Voters gave Councilman Manny Peláez his third term representing the North Side district. He easily outdistanced four challengers.
“I feel blessed to be surrounded by my family during these very important moments, and I feel blessed that I have constituents who appreciate the job that my team and I have done for them during the past four years,” Peláez said by phone from a watch party at La Gloria Dominion restaurant.
“I’m also feeling very, very fortunate that I live in a city of people who show up to vote,” he said. “The numbers are astonishing. I think that all of us should be thankful in how San Antonio takes an interest in how their city governs and how we impact their lives on a daily basis.”
Peláez, a lawyer, began his career at Toyota Motor Manufacturing and now represents homeowners, schools and businesses. He’s served on a number of government and community boards, including VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Advanced Transportation District and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Since taking office, he’s sought to expand parks and trails, fund additional police officers, upgrade streets and sidewalks and craft policies that support families, such as a city ordinance that requires restaurants and entertainment businesses to make diaper-changing stations accessible to both mothers and fathers.
For the third time in six years, District 9 Councilman John Courage will face Patrick Von Dohlen for the North Side position. This time, it will be in a runoff, to be held June 5.
Courage, 70, a former Air Force police officer and special education teacher, outpolled his two opponents, but in a five-candidate field he appeared unlikely to get the majority of votes required to avoid a runoff.
With nearly two-thirds of the total vote counted, including ballots sent by mail and cast in early voting, Courage had nearly 48 percent of the vote and Von Dohlen 34 percent.
Attorney Erika Moe, 46, in her first run for office, had 12 percent.
Trailing Moe were Antonio Salinas, a San Antonio College student, and Cory W. Dennington.
Courage went into Election Day with a nearly 3,000-vote lead over Von Dohlen from early and mail voting.
“I did very well against two very aggressive opponents,” Courage said. “That lead from the early votes showed how effective our ground game was and how impressive our volunteers are.”
District 9 takes in some of San Antonio’s most conservative political territory. It was the only council district carried by Republican Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.
Courage, a lifelong Democrat, won the seat in 2017 and again two years later by avoiding ideological battles, staying attentive to neighborhood concerns and focusing on constituent services.
Von Dohlen, a financial planner, is an ardent conservative who has championed gay conversion therapy and a failed 2017 Texas bathroom bill targeting transgender individuals. He has labeled Courage “a socialist.”
Courage said he thought District 9 voters were not influenced by Von Dohlen's accusations that he wanted to defund the police or that by speaking with Black Lives Matter supporters, Courage had endorsed a “radical Marxist organization.”
Political strategist Christian Archer said Courage has always had to walk “a very narrow line” in the conservative district.
“He is very careful not to get involved in issues like abortion, which the City Council is rarely concerned with,” said Archer. “He’s done an excellent job of bringing people together, yet he has always fought for Democratic issues.”
Incumbent Clayton Perry, the council’s lone conservative, led four challengers, including one who nearly beat him in 2017.
Perry had about 54 percent of the vote, based on unofficial returns, and was on track to avoid a runoff. His closest competitor, Ezra Johnson, was trailing with nearly 30 percent of the vote.
“I’m ecstatic,” Perry said from a watch party at the Barn Door restaurant. “Back in 2019, I said my re-election was an affirmation of what I’d done from ’17 to ’19. This is a reaffirmation of what I’ve done through ’21. I’m looking forward to the next two years.”
In the 2017 election, Johnson finished first in a 10-way race but didn’t have enough votes to avoid a runoff; he was just 18 votes ahead of Perry. Perry went on to win the runoff, defeating Johnson by 831 votes.
In 2019, Perry beat four challengers.
Late Saturday, Perry said it looked like he’d won the election outright, and would not have to have a runoff like he did in 2017.
“I’m ecstatic,” Perry said by phone from a watch party at The Barn Door. “Back in 2019, I said my re-election was an affirmation of what I’d done from ’17 to ’19. This is a reaffirmation of what I’ve done through ’21. I’m looking forward to the next two years.”
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