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Bryan Martinez and Linda Macias won election outright to the Brownsville City Commission on Saturday, while Tino Villarreal and Susan Ruvalcaba appeared headed for a runoff for Commissioner At-Large A, according to complete but unofficial results from the Cameron County Elections Department.
With 27 of 27 precincts reporting and early and mail-in votes counted, Ruvalcaba had 3,582 votes or 41.4% of the total to 3,746 votes and 43.3% for Villarreal, while William A. Garza polled 1,315 votes for 15.2% of the total. If confirmed, the result would trigger a runoff.
With 12 of 12 precincts reporting and early and mail-in votes counted in the District 2 City Commissioner race, Linda Macias polled 1,210 votes, 52.8% of the total, to 555 votes, 24.2%, for Ernesto Lopez and 525, 22.9% for Caty Presas Garcia.
With all nine precincts and early and mail-in votes counted for District 1 Commissioner, Martinez, 28, the chief of staff for City Commissioner Roy De Los Santos, polled 681 votes, 52.3% of the total, to 620 votes, 47.7% for Galonsky, the only incumbent running for re-election in Saturday’s election.
Martinez has been active in the community for more than 10 years, serving with the United Way, Sombrero Festival, and Leadership Brownsville, according to his campaign page on Facebook.
He focused his campaign on bringing a new generation of leadership to the city of Brownsville. At mid-afternoon Saturday he expressed confidence the election would turn in his favor.
“I think the people want this change, especially the younger generation stepping up,” Martinez said. “I’m young and I’m new and I have fresh ideas to bring to the table.”
The other two City Commission seats up for election became open seats when John Cowen, the sitting At-Large A city commissioner, and District 2 City Commissioner Jessica Tetreau both opted instead to run for mayor after Mayor Trey Mendez announced he would not seek another term.
Villarreal is a former chairman of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corp. and vice chairman of the Brownsville Public Utilities Board. He said the open seat provided the opportunity to get more involved in city government.
He said the city is at a crucial point on a number of issues with which been involved, among them PUB’s failed Tenaska project.
“I think that people just want that opportunity to be more connected, to know what’s happening within their own city. They want good leadership. They want leaders that they can trust, that are not in it for themselves or special interests, the old compadrisimo. People just want good honest decision makers who will do what’s right for the city, not just a specific group of people,” he said while campaigning Saturday morning across the street from the polling place at Burns Elementary School.
When the likelihood of a runoff emerged Saturday night, he said a black-and-white choice between him and Ruvalcaba now faces voters.
“The choice is real clear that Susan and I are completely different. If people want me in office, they have to go back and vote. If they don’t then they’re going to get a completely different representation,” he said.
In an interview at mid-afternoon Saturday, Galonsky expressed pride in what had been accomplished for District 1, which encompasses the Southmost area of Brownsville.
“I feel that there’s a much better distribution of resources throughout the city. In the four years I’ve been in office they fixed 50-plus streets in District 1; they’ve invested in stormwater drainage so the streets don’t flood. We’ve had improvements to our parks, to the Southmost library. We finally had Christmas lights at Gonzalez Park,” she said.
“I love this district. That’s why I sought to be re-elected instead of going for a different position. I feel that there’s a lot of talent and a lot of potential here. …There’s so much more about Southmost that we need to get out. The natural beauty, the talent, the quality of the people that we have,” she said.
Find the complete, unofficial election results of races across the Rio Grande Valley here.