Do you live in Texas Senate District 26 or Texas House District 123? If you do and are registered to vote, you have four days, counting Monday, to vote early at one of 14 polling sites, or you can wait until vote Jan. 6 in the special election to fill the two vacated seats in Bexar County.
Unsure what House and Senate districts you reside in? Click here to enter your address and confirm your eligibility to vote in the special election.
Leticia Van de Putte is vacating her seat in Senate District 26, and Mike Villarreal is vacating House District 123. The two districts overlap. Both longtime members of the Texas Legislature are campaigning to become the next mayor of San Antonio. City elections for mayor and all 10 Council seats will be held May 9.
Mayor Ivy Taylor currently holds the office on an interim basis following her July election by City Council. She has not reaffirmed or reversed her July pledge not to seek the office when her current interim term ends. She has until Feb. 28 to file for election.
The Dec. 15 proclamations by Gov. Rick Perry to call a special election with less than 30 days notice on Jan. 6 (Click here and here to read the proclamations) is expected to result in a frustratingly low turnout, despite the importance of both offices to citizens who live in those districts and to the city and county at large. Prospective candidates had little time to declare their candidacies, organize campaigns and fundraise. San Antonio will see a blizzard of political ads between now and Jan. 6 from the frontrunners, and email messages have been arriving for weeks, but there will be little time for the candidates to offer more than canned messages. Special elections almost always result in poor turnouts, but holding one during the holiday season is expected to further reduce the vote count.
The Rivard Report has invited the candidates who are conducting campaigns in both races to submit articles outlining their platforms and addressing key issues.
Senate District 26
Two high profile state representatives from the Bexar County House delegation, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-District 116) and Rep. Jose Menendez (D-District 124) head up a ballot of five candidates in the race. Martinez Fischer already has published an article on the Rivard Report, and Menendez has promised to do so.
One other Democrat, Al Suarez, and two Republicans, Alma Perez Jackson and Joan Pedrotti, also are on the ballot.
House District 123
Former District 1 City Councilmember Diego Bernal and small business owner and public relations executive Melissa Aguillon are the two leading candidates among a field of six on the ballot, a field that also includes former City Councilmember Walter Martinez, who has been absent from political office for more than a decade. All three have committed to writing articles for the Rivard Report making the case for their candidacies.
The ballot also includes Green Party candidate Paul Ingmundson, who was soundly defeated by Villarreal in his Nov. 4 bid to win the seat, Libertarian party candidate Roger V. Gary, and Republican candidate Nunzio Previtera.
The special elections are the latest in a chain of political musical chairs set off by two events: the decision last summer by Julián Castro to resign during his third term as San Antonio mayor to become the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, and the decision by Leticia Van de Putte to run for lieutenant governor, and then resign her state Senate seat after suffering defeat by 20 percentage points to incoming Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Castro’s resignation, Taylor’s elevation to mayor from her District 2 seat, and now, Bernal’s resignation, have triggered a sequence of City Council temporary appointments, a special election, and a special election runoff, all of which have contributed to a sense of political instability on City Council. Once the dust settles from the Jan. 6 special election for the Senate and House seats, the campaigns for mayor and City Council are expected to heat up.
*Featured/top image: San Antonians cast their vote at the Central Library polling location.