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City Election Wrap: Easy Wins, An Upset And Two Runoffs

Ryan Loyd

Saturday's city council election wrapped up with several decisive victories for incumbents, but a few races are still to be decided.

District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña beat his challenger with 84 percent of the vote, East Side Councilwoman Ivy Taylor will be returning for a third term, Ray Lopez of District 6 and Cris Medina of District 7 each won their races handily, as did District 9 and 10 Council Members Elisa Chan and Carlton Soules.

Leticia Ozuna, who was appointed to the District 3 seat to serve out Jennifer Ramos's term, lost to Rebecca Viagran, a long-time South Side resident.

The two undecided contests are in District 8 and District 5, which are both headed to runoffs on June 15.

Credit Ryan Loyd / TPR
Ron Nirenberg at his election-night party.

Open seat in District 8

Ron Nirenberg and Rolando Briones, who are vying for the seat being vacated by Reed Williams, spent more campaign money than any other race this election, complete with advertisements, websites, attacks and town hall meetings.

Nirenberg had the highest percentage of votes with 49.5 percent, but failed to get the majority required for a win. Briones finished with 45 percent.

Until now they've given voters plenty of reasons to vote, as each man has accused the other of feeding the liberal agenda or violating ethics guidelines.

On election night, each candidate stood by their campaign, with Briones maintaining that he stuck to the issues that mattered most to the district.

"Everything that we sent out was on issues in this campaign, and we are very honored to have kept that commitment," Briones said.

Credit Ryan Loyd / TPR
Rolando Briones talks to his supporters at his campaign headquarters on Saturday night.

And Nirenberg confident in his aggressive strategy.

"We had the right message, we had the right people, and we stayed true to that. We were honest, we were open. We talked to everybody, and the community has responded," Nirenberg said.

The two men have another month of campaigning before runoff day, which is when voters will decide which of these candidates better suits them.

Six are narrowed to two

Aside from the mayoral race, the District 5 race on the Near West Side attracted the most number of candidates for office.

But the top two vote-getters were incumbent David Medina, who got 39 percent of the vote and Shirley Gonzales, who received 31 percent.

Credit Ryan Loyd / TPR
District 5 incumbent David Medina at his election party on Saturday night.

Medina, who was under fire for most of the campaign for being unresponsive to resident concerns and missing city council meetings, said he's hungry for a third term:

"It feels great to be able to have an opportunity to serve three terms - potentially three terms - on council because now we have some consistency in terms of projects, representation. We have a representative now, since I've been in office for four years, who understands local government," Medina said.

Gonzales said she brings greater compassion to the district, something she says Medina hasn't done very well, and she is looking to rally additional support ahead of the runoff:

"We'll continue to get the support of other elected officials and try and bring them on our team. Patti Radle was here this afternoon and is willing to publicly endorse me, which she had not done in the past. She promised to stay out of it, and she did, and so now she's come forward and that means a lot," Gonzales said.

Radle is a former councilwoman for District 5 who has openly criticized Medina's performance on the city council.

Both District 5 and District 8 will be decided on June 15, in a runoff election that could hinge on a handful of votes. Voter turnout was low for Saturday's election and is likely to be even lower for the runoff.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.
My journalism journey began with an idea for a local art and music zine and the gumption to make it happen with no real plan or existing skill set.