NEWS Staff Report
According to votes that have not yet been canvassed, Place 1 Rio Hondo City Commissioner Gustavo “Gus” Olivares unseated Mayor Alonzo Garza Sr. by four ballots, 254 to 250, on Election Day Saturday, May 11.
On his victory and upcoming work as the city’s mayor, Olivares said, “I’m excited to be mayor of Rio Hondo; it’s a feeling I can’t describe. Now my plan is to have the city work closer with the county, state and federal officials because we can’t rely on taxpayers’ money to keep the city moving forward. We need grants and also excitement in our town; I think I can bring that to the table.”
Attempts to reach Garza for comment were unsuccessful as of 11:05 p.m.
Winning re-election to the Pl. 4 seat on the Commission was Rick Tello by 338 votes to challenger Anita Lozano’s 164.
In the Pl. 4 race, incumbent Commissioner Miguel “Mike” Uresti secured a victory with 270 votes to Kitter Huerta’s 230.
Tello, Uresti and Huerta also could not be reached for comment; Lozano, meanwhile, indicated intentions to run again in the future.
A major shift in leadership is coming to Rio Hondo ISD in the form of three new school board members defeating longtime incumbents who together accounted for nearly 30 years of service.
By 152 votes, political newcomer Arnold Martinez Jr. scored a win in the Pl. 3 School Board race against 20-year incumbent and Board President Noemi Garza, 876 to 724.
Jessica Alvarado Gonzales, another candidate new to the political scene, secured 961 votes to Pl. 2 School Board member Susan G. Lopez’ 629 — a 331-vote margin of victory for Gonzales that won her the seat.
Another school board incumbent, Pl. 4 member Rene Alfaro, was unseated. Alfaro lost to Claudia Villalobos by 118 votes, 858 to 740.
The only sitting school board member victorious in the 2013 general election was Noe Alaniz Jr., who took 1,164 votes to Mike St. John’s 391.