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Government/Politics

Bexar County: 2020 General Election Voter Guide

Early voting begins in Michigan
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'I Voted' stickers for people who cast their ballots for the 2020 presidential elections.

Bexar County now allows voters to cast a ballot at any polling place within the county on Election Day, in addition to early voting. Here's what you need to know before heading to the polls — or mailing in your ballot — in Bexar County.

Aquí para español.

Early Voting: Tuesday, Oct. 13 to Friday, Oct. 30. Most early voting polling locations are open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., but check for a full list of hours here.

Election Day: Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Mail-in And Absentee Ballots

The deadline to mail in ballots is Nov. 3 — Election Day. They must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and arrive at the Elections Department by the end of the business day on Nov. 4. There is some flexibility for military members.

You can track the status of your mail-in ballot here.

Ballots can also be dropped off at the Bexar County Elections Office at 1103 S. Frio St., Suite 200. There is a designated entrance.

Voters who received a mail-in ballot, but now want to vote in person must bring their mail-in ballot with them to their polling location and sign a chain of custody form before they vote.

Don't forget COVID-19 precautions

What can you expect to see when you go vote?

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said voters and workers will be socially distanced at the dozens of voting sites and at the AT&T Center. Everyone will wear masks. Hand sanitizer will be available. If you don't want to touch the screen to vote, workers can provide a stylus. All equipment will be wiped down after each use.

| Related: Ask The Expert: How Can I Vote Safely In The 2020 Election? |

The Texas secretary of state’s office offers a checklist for how voters can prepare themselves before they visit a polling place.

Polling Locations

Bexar County voters may cast a ballot at any polling location during early voting and on Election Day. This map shows early voting polling locations. It will be updated for Election Day polls.

What's on the ballot?

The following is TPR's analysis of several key local races and ballot initiatives.

U.S. Senate

John Cornyn (R): The three-term incumbent, first elected to the seat in 2002, is an attorney. He sits on three politically powerful Senate committees: Finance, Judiciary and Intelligence. The Tribune explains that he's running for a fourth term on his record and growing stature as a stabilizing, moderate force during a turbulent, pandemic scarred Trump era.

MJ Hegar (D): She is a former Air Force helicopter pilot and college lecturer who defeated Dallas State Sen. Royce West in the July runoff election. The Texas Tribune explains that the Afghan War veteran presents herself to voters as someone who can change a political system that no longer serves the kaleidoscopic demographic tapestry of modern Texas.

Kerry Douglas McKennon (L): He has called to legalize marijuana and draw back the U.S. military’s presence around the world. He is running to be the state’s first openly gay senator.

David B. Collins (G): He supports single-payer healthcare, renewable energy, and the demilitarization of the police and military. He was most recently the Green Party’s candidate for Harris County Judge in 2014.

Analysis: Recent polls in the Lone Star State continue to favor Cornyn. Voters may prefer a relatively non-controversial, experienced, known quantity over an unknown challenger with no record in elected office. However, a stronger-than-expected surge of Democratic support in Texas may work in Hegar's favor.

Congress

District 20

Mauro Garza (R): He is a San Antonio businessman who owns the Pegasus night club, an LGBT+ bar on N. Main Ave. near San Antonio College. During the 2018 election cycle, Garza ran in the Republican primary for TX-21, a neighboring district, but received 0.9% of the vote. He's been a solid supporter of President Donald Trump.

Joaquin Castro (D): He is in his fourth term in Congress and chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He is a former state representative. His twin brother is former San Antonio mayor and former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro.

Jeffrey Blunt (L): He is an environmental engineer and former Army officer. He has run against incumbent Joaquin Castro in every election since 2014, earning 19% of the vote in 2018.

Analysis: TX-20 sits directly on San Antonio’s heavily Hispanic West Side and has been a Democratic stronghold for decades. Castro has not had a Republican opponent since 2012 when he first ran for the seat. Jeffery Blunt has challenged Castro in almost every election.

District 21

Chip Roy (R): He is a freshman incumbent and a former top aide to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz.

Wendy Davis (D): She is a former state senator. She gained national attention in 2013 when she filibustered House Bill 2, a bill aiming to restrict women’s access to abortion. She then mounted an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign against Greg Abbott in 2014.

Arthur DiBianca (L): He is a programmer who has held several positions in the Texas Libertarian Party. In his last race in 2014, he earned nearly 13% of the vote.

Tommy Wakely (G): He is an Air Force veteran who was involved for many years in the labor movement. He supports Medicare-for-All and has also run for office under the Democratic Party.

Analysis: The district runs from Southwest Austin down through San Marcos and New Braunfels to northern parts of San Antonio. The district also covers the Hill Country, including Boerne, Johnson City and Fredericksburg. Republican Lamar Smith held the seat for three decades. Now, the Cook Political Report ranks this race a toss up.

District 23

Tony Gonzales (R): He narrowly defeated Raul Reyes for the Republican nomination. He is a former Navy cryptologist who received Trump's endorsement during the primary.

Gina Ortiz Jones (D): She previously ran against Will Hurd, who is not seeking reelection. She is a former Air Force intelligence officer.

Beto Villela (L): He won the Libertarian nomination for this House seat after beating opponent Tim Martinez in the Libertarian convention.

Analysis: This is a massive swing district that shifts hands between parties often. It contains many counties from San Antonio to the Texas-Mexico border. It’s a highly watched battleground that can help either party control the U.S. House. Jones narrowly lost to Hurd by 47 votes in 2018, and in 2020 one of them may see another hair-thin victory.

District 28

Sandra Whitten (R): She describes herself as a pro-life, Christian, constitutional conservative on her campaign website. She currently lives in Laredo with her husband and four children and is originally from Virginia.

Henry Cuellar (D): He was in a tight primary race earlier this year against Jessica Cisneros, one of his former interns. Cuellar narrowly won with 51% of the vote. Cuellar has represented the district since 2005. He’s previously served as the Texas secretary of state before being elected to Congress.

Bekah Congdon (L): She is for ending American wars abroad and believes the government should only serve to protect the rights of citizens. She lives by a “non-aggression principle” which she thinks should be applied to government.

Analysis: TX-28 is a large district that goes from Laredo and Webb County into San Antonio's East Side and Bexar County. Cuellar scored a decisive victory in 2018.

District 35

Jenny Garcia Sharon (R): She is a Texas native born in Houston. On her campaign website, she describes herself as a third and fourth generation immigrant of Mexican descent.

Lloyd Doggett (D): He is a long time Democratic member of Congress who has occupied the seat since 1995. In the 1990s, he sat on the Texas Supreme Court. Doggett represents San Antonio, Austin, and many communities in between.

Mark Loewe (L): He wants Congress to issue money to pay down American debt and to avoid taking on debt that is interest-bearing.

Jason Mata Sr. (I): He has served on the boards of multiple nonprofits and started his own construction company. He has worked in the district for 20 years and believes the two major parties haven’t done enough for his district.

Analysis: TX-35 lives up to is name by being a long and narrow district that runs up the Interstate 35 corridor from East San Antonio to East Austin and encompasses parts of Comal, Hays and other counties. Doggett has represented the district, which has grown bluer, since its creation in 2013. More than 70% of voters reelected Doggett in 2018.

NOWCastSA hosted a 2020 Judicial Candidate Forum.

The event is co-hosted by the San Antonio Bar Association Medical Legal Liaison Committee and the Bexar County Women's Bar. The forum is sponsored by Texas Medical Legal Consultants and Meritz Reddy Law Firm.

State Board of Education

District 5

Lani Popp (R): She is a speech language pathologist in the Northside Independent School District.

Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D): She is an English professor at Texas State University.

Stephanie Berlin (L): She serves as the secretary of the Texas Libertarian Party, a position she has held since August of 2020.

Analysis: The State Board of Education is responsible for setting curriculum standards and selecting textbooks for Texas public schools. It also oversees the Texas Permanent School Fund and approves applications for new charter schools. The State Board of Education seat represents the Hill Country, northern Bexar County, and southern Travis County. It is open for the first time in 16 years.

State Senate

District 19

Pete Flores (R): The retired game warden is the first Hispanic Republican senator ever elected to the Texas Senate, according to Dan Patrick, and the first Republican to win the seat since Reconstruction. He won the special election with the support of voters from Medina County.

Roland Gutierrez (D): He currently serves in the Texas House. He ran for this seat during the special election but did not make the runoff.

Jo-Anne Valdivia (L): She is a business owner who runs Jo-Anne’s Creative Stitches, a sewing and alterations shop.

Analysis: This seat is a major prize for both the Democrats and the Republicans. It was held by Carlos Uresti before he was convicted of money laundering. It had been in the Democrats' hands for decades, but in 2018, Flores won it in a special election. This victory gave Republicans a super majority in the Texas Senate. Now, Democrats want it back. It is a very large district that stretches over 17 counties, from south San Antonio to the Texas-Mexico border.

| Related: Candidate Forum: Roland Gutierrez Aims To Unseat GOP Incumbent Pete Flores In Texas Senate District 19 |

District 21

Frank Pomeroy (R): Pomeroy is the pastor at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, where 26 people, including his daughter, were killed in a mass shooting in 2017.

Judith Zaffirini (D): She has held her seat since 1987, placing her among the longest serving current legislators in Texas.

Analysis: The district, which spans from the Rio Grande Valley to Travis County, will be an uphill battle for Pomeroy’s entry into politics. Zaffirini ran unopposed in 2016 and won more than 67% of the vote in 2012.

Texas House of Representatives

District 119

George Garza (R): The Marine veteran will focus on 50-50 parenting arrangements after parents are divorced, which he says particularly benefits noncustodial parents who fall on financial hard times. He feels the city should do more to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns.

Elizabeth "Liz" Campos (D): She plans to focus on an array of issues, including homelessness and lower property taxes. She supports the city’s upcoming propositions, which include funding for workforce training post-COVID-19.

Antonio Padron (G): He is running an entirely grassroots-funded campaign and is in favor of legalizing marijuana, investing in public education and transportation and expanding Medicare and Medicaid.

Arthur Thomas IV (L): He has run in multiple state legislature and congressional races over the past decade, last losing to Henry Cuellar (D) in District 28 in 2018.

Analysis: The Democratic stronghold covers east and southeast San Antonio, including communities near China Grove, Converse and Schertz. The seat is vacated by Democrat and former San Antonio City Councilman Roland Gutierrez, who is running for Texas Senate.

| Related: Candidate Forum: Liz Campos, George Garza Vie To Represent Texas House District 119 |

District 121

Steve Allison (R): The incumbent and business attorney has described himself a "strong conservative." He served previously on the Alamo Heights School Board for 12 years and spent three terms as president. He was also a vice chair on the board for VIA Metropolitan Transit.

Celina Montoya (D): The former Texas Public Radio journalist started the educational non-profit Literacy San Antonio. She has served as chair of the San Antonio Area Foundation Women and Girl's Development Fund, president of the Junior League of San Antonio, and vice president of community and government relations at Alamo Fireworks.

Analysis: Allison and Montoya sparred before, in 2018. Montoya is back in 2020, armed with an array of Democratic endorsements, including Barack Obama. A victory for her could help Democrats turn the Texas House blue. Allison holds the seat once occupied by moderate Texas Speaker and San Antonio Representative Joe Straus, and his own moderate political approach over the last two years may be comforting enough for weary voters who've endured political controversies and COVID-19.

Bexar County

Commissioners Court:

The court will have two new faces this year. Precinct 1 Commissioner Sergio Chico Rodriguez was unseated in the Democratic Primary after being on the court for about 16 years. In Precinct 3, Kevin Wolff, the son of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff opted not to seek reelection.

Precinct 1

Gabriel Lara (R): He is a retired paramedic who ran unopposed during the Republican primary.

Rebeca "Becky" Clay Flores (D): She is a former staffer for former San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor. She unseated Chico Rodriguez in the Democratic primary, which was a surprising upset.

Analysis: Precinct 1 is on the South Side of San Antonio/Bexar County and is heavily Democratic.

| Related: Candidate Forum: Clay-Flores, Lara Vie To Represent Precinct 1 On Bexar County Commissioners Court |

Precinct 3

Trish DeBerry (R): She is a public relations executive who runs the DeBerry Group. She previously ran for mayor in 2009 but lost to Julian Castro.

Christine Hortick (D): She is an attorney who focuses on cases in the Bexar County Children’s Court, where she represents parents and children involved in abuse and neglect cases.

Analysis: Precinct 3 is a highly Republican area on the North Side of San Antonio and Bexar County. It will likely remain a red district.

| Related: Candidate Forum: DeBerry, Hortick Go Head-To-Head For Kevin Wolff's Seat On Bexar County Commissioners Court |

Sheriff

Gerard C. "Gerry" Rickhoff (R): He was Bexar County Clerk for 24 years and was responsible for maintaining county records and issuing marriage licenses. He lost his seat in the 2018 midterm election, which saw a blue wave. Rickhoff does not have law enforcement experience. But that was not an issue for the last Republican sheriff, Pamerleau, a retired Air Force major general who won voter support in 2012 without ever serving as a peace officer before.

Javier Salazar (D): He became sheriff in 2016 when he defeated then-incumbent Republican Susan Pamerleau. Before becoming sheriff, Salazar was an officer and spokesman for the San Antonio Police Department. One of the biggest challenges he's faced has been a string of arrests among his deputies, including DUIs. Recently, Salazar has received sharp criticism among Black Lives Matter activists for the death of Damien Daniels, who was shot by a sheriff’s deputy.

Analysis: The race for sheriff can sometimes follow the mood of voters in an election cycle. As a countywide race, it’s been mostly held by Democrats. It switched to Republican hands in 2012. Salazar narrowly won the seat in 2016 by 0.7%.

|Related: Candidate Forum: Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar Faces Gerard Rickhoff In Reelection Bid |

City of San Antonio

The city will have three sales tax propositions on the November ballot. All are for a 1/8th of a cent sales tax that is part of the 1 cent that can be used for special initiatives. Two of these propositions are for the same sales tax allocation but would collect at different times. Half of that one cent is used for the MTA (VIA), and another quarter is for the Advanced Transportation District projects.

1/8th of a Sales Tax: COVID-19 Recovery

City: The city proposal would create a 1/8th of a cent sales tax to fund a economic recovery plan for COVID-19. It’s essentially a job training program that would train about 40,000 workers over four years. It would also provide tuition help to certain students as well as provide stipends. The tax would only collect until the end of 2025.

| Related: Mayor Nirenberg Wants To Get San Antonio 'Ready To Work' In The Wake Of COVID-19 |

1/8th of a Sales Tax: VIA Metropolitan Transit

VIA: The VIA tax would take the same 1/8th of a cent but it wouldn’t start collecting until 2026. It would fund transportation initiatives for VIA, the city and the county. This tax would generate about $38 million per year. Voters can approve one or both initiatives. They are exclusive of one another.

| Related: VIA's Prop A Would Shift Sales Tax Revenue To Public Transit In 2026 |

1/8th Sales Tax: Pre-K 4 SA

Proposition A renews a dedicated 1/8 cent sales tax to support San Antonio’s city-funded preschool, Pre-K 4 SA. Pre-K 4 SA serves 2,000 students in four centers and provides around $4 million in grants annually to local schools, funding an additional 2,000 to 3,000 preschool seats.

Voters first approved this tax in 2012. It must be renewed by voters every eight years. If renewed, Pre-K 4 SA plans to increase access to preschool for middle income families who aren’t eligible for state-funded pre-k but can’t afford private preschool.

| Related: San Antonio Voters Asked To Renew 8-Year Investment In Pre-K 4 SA |

San Antonio ISD Bond

The San Antonio Independent School District is asking voters to approve a $1.3 billion bond to support renovations and technology.

Proposition A would generate $1.21 billion to renovate 36 campuses, replace air conditioning chillers on 30 campuses and provide security upgrades at all SAISD schools. Proposition B would generate $90 million for technology upgrades at every school, including high-speed internet in every classroom.

District officials say the bonds will not require a tax rate increase. If approved, the combined $1.3 billion bond will be the highest in district history.

| Related: San Antonio ISD Asks Voters To Back Largest-Ever Bond For Campus Renovations, Tech Upgrades |

Alamo Colleges District Board

Three of the nine seats on the Alamo Colleges District Board have competitive races on the ballot this election.

Four candidates are vying for an open seat in District 4, which represents southwest Bexar County. Candidates include current South San ISD Board Trustee Connie Prado, a prominent figure in the school district’s ongoing state oversight, which was prompted by board infighting.

The community college system board is responsible for a more than $380 million annual budget that operates five campuses. Trustees are elected for six-year terms.

School Board Elections

Six of the 19 independent school districts with Bexar County residents are holding trustee elections.

Eleven candidates are vying for five seats on the North East ISD board. The South San district also has five open seats, but incumbents Homer Flores, Connie Prado and Stacey Alderete are running unopposed.

Trustee seats are also open in the Southwest, Edgewood, Somerset and Medina Valley school districts.

Follow statewide coverage of the 2020 election here.

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