This story has been updated.

Bexar County’s crowded Republican primary field for an open commissioner’s court seat is headed for a runoff, with former probate judge Tom Rickhoff and public relations professional Trish DeBerry emerging from a field of eight.

Rickhoff drew 33.8 percent of the vote while DeBerry followed with 28.6 percent after all votes were reported early Wednesday morning. Rickhoff’s showing was a surprise in a race in which DeBerry was far better financed.

“We never expected to win it outright, and wanted to position ourselves for a runoff,” DeBerry said late Tuesday night. “We are ready to roll tomorrow [and] keep knocking on doors and talking to voters.”

The Republican primary field for the seat filled quickly after Commissioner Kevin Wolff announced he would not be seeking re-election in August. Eight candidates ultimately filed to run, including former judge of County Court-at-Law 8 Celeste Brown, who finished sixth with 7.5 percent of the vote.

In the Precinct 3 Democratic primary, Christine Hortick staved off a runoff election with 59.7 percent of the vote.

More than 138,000 people cast in-person and mail-in ballots during the early voting period. On election day, 113,650 people voted in-person. More than a quarter of a million people voted altogether in the March primary, surpassing the turnout of the March 2016 presidential primary by 4,294 votes.

Rebeca Clay-Flores Credit: Courtesy / Rebeca Clay-Flores

County Commissioner, Precinct 1

Longtime incumbent Commissioner Chico Rodriguez (Pct. 1) will head to a runoff in May after facing an unexpectedly stiff challenge from Rebeca Clay-Flores, a special projects manager at the City of San Antonio’s health department making her first run for public office. Rodriguez had 47.9 percent of the vote after all vote centers reported results early Wednesday morning. Flores had 42.6 percent.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination for the seat will face Gabriel Lara, the lone Republican candidate, in November.

County Commissioner, Precinct 2

Commissioner Justin Rodriguez secured the Democratic nomination with all vote centers reporting results early Wednesday morning. He had 59 percent of the vote, while his sole challenger, Queta Rodriguez, trailed with 41 percent.

Justin Rodriguez said he felt the voters demonstrated a “resounding mandate” to keep him on commissioners court with the margin between him and his opponent. Without a runoff, Rodriguez said he would transition from the campaign mindset.

“For us, it means we can wake up tomorrow and get back to the governing and pushing meaningful initiatives forward for the precinct,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about continuing the work we started 13 months ago.”

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff appointed Rodriguez to the Precinct 2 seat in January 2019 following the death of Commissioner Paul Elizondo. State law requires Rodriguez to run for his seat in the next general election in order to finish the term of his predecessor. His term ends in 2022.

There were no Republican candidates for the Precinct 2 county commissioner seat.

Bexar County Sheriff

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar reacts to early voting results during his campaign watch party Tuesday night. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Incumbent Sheriff Javier Salazar will avoid a runoff in May. Salazar, whose first term as sheriff was marked by a series of erroneous releases of jail inmates and off-duty arrests of deputies, had 53.7 percent of the total vote.

“We were thinking [a runoff] wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” Salazar said. “We knew it was going to be a dealbreaker for us. We’re stoked it looks like it won’t be that – that we’re going to get through clean.”

With virtually no campaigning, former county clerk Gerard “Gerry” Rickhoff clinched the Republican nomination. He had 52.4 percent of the vote, while Willie Ng had 30 percent.

Ng said he was surprised Rickhoff did so well in the primary.

“I will give him credit – he was very transparent at the beginning of the race and said he was going to win on name recognition,” Ng said. “Our team anticipated that and worked very hard … I have no regrets on how our team performed.”

Rickhoff, the brother of county commissioner candidate Tom Rickhoff, said he was honored that people trusted him enough to vote him through the primary. Rickhoff has no law enforcement background but said he hopes to bring his educator and administrator experience to lead the sheriff’s office effectively.

“I think we need to bring a different perspective and that’s what I represent,” Rickhoff said.

Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector

Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti will advance to the general election, with 68.6 percent of the vote. If reelected in November, this would be his third term.

Republican candidate Stephen David Pennington secured the Republican nomination for tax assessor-collector with 64.5 percent of the total vote. He is a longshot bid for the historically Democratic-dominated position in November.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is a general assignment reporter at the Rivard Report.