Bexar County voters have until Monday, Feb. 3, to register to vote in the March 3 primary election, and early voting runs from Tuesday, Feb. 18, to Friday, Feb. 28.

Primary elections on Super Tuesday will decide which candidates from each party make it onto the November ballot. While many eyes will be on the presidential race as Republican Donald Trump seeks a second term against a still unknown Democratic challenger, there are a number of other races that also are expected to grab attention.

Here’s an overview of seven of those races. For a full statewide primary ballot list, click here.

Bexar County Sheriff

Incumbent Sheriff Javier Salazar (D) was elected in 2016 with a 0.72 percentage-point margin over then-Sheriff Susan Pamerleau (R).

In some areas of Bexar County, crime is down by 30 percent and response times have decreased 18 percent, which Salazar credits to new patrol substations. A number of investigations partnering with state and federal law enforcement agencies over the past four years have led to arrests connected to heroin, illegal gambling, and human trafficking.

Last summer, Salazar stood alongside District Attorney Joe Gonzales and Police Chief William McManus to launch a cite-and-release program. The policy allows officers and deputies to ticket someone for a low-level offense, such as possessing small amounts of marijuana, instead of making an arrest. Previously, Salazar served with the San Antonio Police Department for 23 years.

But Salazar’s first four-year term was marked with a string of inmate deaths and escapes as well as dozens of arrests of deputies for various crimes including sexual assault, drunken driving, and domestic violence.

Candidate José Treviño (D), who has worked in various roles in the Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years, told KENS5 TV last September that Salazar lacks institutional knowledge of the Sheriff’s Office.

Sharon Rodriguez (D), a former Bexar County sheriff’s deputy and Hollywood Park police officer, filed her candidacy in early December. Rodriguez said on her website that the Sheriff’s Office and jail need more transparent vetting processes for leadership positions.

Former Precinct 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela (D), whose offices were raided by FBI and Texas Rangers in September in connection with a corruption investigation, is also running to replace Salazar. Barrientes Vela has not been charged with any crime in the ongoing investigation.

Salazar will also face Pete Lozano, a former officer in the Texas Department of Public Safety, in the Democratic primary election.

Candidate Willie Ng (R), former Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood’s chief criminal investigator, has said Salazar isn’t doing enough to address the root causes of the inmate custody and deputy arrest problems.

Former Bexar County Clerk Gerard “Gerry” Rickhoff (R) also filed late last year. He has no experience in law enforcement and held the clerk position from 1995 to 2018.

The Republican primary will also feature Gary W. Garcia, who has been a sheriff’s deputy for nearly three decades.

Bexar County Pct. 3 Commissioner

Kevin Wolff (R) announced in August that he will not seek a fourth term. The office has attracted a number of candidates for the traditionally Republican seat. The precinct includes the county’s North Side.

Public-relations executive Trish DeBerry, who ran for San Antonio mayor in 2009, is considered the front-runner for the seat.

Former Bexar County Probate Judge Tom Rickhoff, who is Gerry Rickhoff’s brother and previously ran unsuccessfully to unseat Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, is also on the Republican ballot, as are former Judge Celeste Brown; Weston Martinez, a conservative activist and former Texas real estate commissioner; bank executive Kenny Vallespin; Judy Ann Stuller; Ellen Pfeiffer; and John “The Marine” Casares.

Democratic candidates for the position are local attorney Christine M. Hortick, private investigator Alfonso Perez, and Air Force veteran Ismael Reyes.

Texas House District 119

Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) is leaving HD 119 – which includes some of San Antonio’s South and far East sides – to pursue a seat in the State Senate (SD 19).

Three Democrats are running to replace Gutierrez: paralegal and former legislative aide Elizabeth “Liz” Campos, who previously ran for City Council District 3; former Councilwoman Jennifer Ramos (D3); and Sean Villasana, a recent St. Mary’s University graduate of forensic science biology.

George B. Garza, whose occupation is listed only as “intern,” is the lone Republican running for the seat.

Antonio Padrón, a Green Party candidate, has also appointed a treasurer for the race.

Texas House District 121

Incumbent Rep. Steve Allison has no challengers in the Republican primary, but three Democrats are vying to get on the November ballot: Becca Moyer DeFelice, a volunteer state leader with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and small business consultant; Jack Guerra, former city planner; and Celina Montoya, founder of Literacy San Antonio and former journalist.

In 2018, Montoya was the first Democrat in more than a decade to run for the office. Allison received 53 percent of the vote. Democrats hope to flip the long-held Republican seat that former Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) left. Straus, who held the speaker position for five terms, endorsed Allison in the 2018 race.

Allison was one of 10 Republican incumbents on current House Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s “target list” of moderates he wanted to remove from office for not supporting taxpayer-funded lobbying.

District 121 includes much of San Antonio’s Northeast Side.

Texas Senate District 19

Pete Flores, the incumbent Republican senator who won a special election in 2018, will face one of four candidates vying to take back the long-held Democratic seat. The district includes much of the U.S.-Mexico border from Maverick County to Big Bend National Park. Its boundaries include San Antonio’s South and East sides.

Roland Gutierrez (from HD 119) lost in the first round of the special election to replace then-state Sen. Carlos Uresti, who resigned after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Gutierrez will join Freddy Ramirez, a Bexar County prosecutor; local lawyer Xochil Peña Rodriguez, and political newcomer Belinda Shvetz on the Democratic primary ballot.

U.S. Congressional District 23

Both parties will see a crowded primary ballot in March for the seat that will be vacated by retiring Congressman Will Hurd (R-Helotes), with five Democrats and nine Republicans. District 23 includes much of the U.S.-Mexico border, up to New Mexico and east to include portions of San Antonio.

Hurd has endorsed Tony Gonzales, a Navy veteran, to take his place.

Alma Arredondo-Lynch, Darwin Boedeker, Alía Ureste, Cecil B. “Burt” Jones, Jeff McFarlin, Raul Reyes, Sharon Breckenridge Thomas, and Ben Van Winkle are also on the Republican ballot.

Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who lost to Hurd in 2018 by about 900 votes, announced in 2018 her plans to run again in 2020 – long before Hurd announced his retirement in August.

Ortiz Jones, considered a front-runner, will face Rosalinda “Rosey” Ramos Abuabara, a progressive activist; attorney Jaime Escuder; local health worker Ricardo R. Madrid; and educator Efrain V. Valdez.

U.S. Congressional District 28

Congressman Henry Cuellar‘s primary challenger in District 28 – which includes most of the southern portion of the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and stretches north to include some portions of San Antonio – is Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney.

Cuellar, a moderate Democrat, has held the seat for 15 years. Cisneros is seen as bringing a more progressive option to the table and is endorsed by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Sandra Whitten is the lone Republican candidate.

 

Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@rivardreport.com