Saturday's election results defied expectations in some races and met them in others. One thing was certain: Some fights are not over yet.
10:15 a.m, Monday — Low Turnout
There are 962,000 registered voters in Bexar County, but, according to the results report from the county's elections department, only 110,000, or 11.4 percent, voted in the May 4 election.
Most voters, over 73,000, cast an early vote. The remaining 37,000 showed up on election day.
That's on par with May 2017 municipal elections, when only 11.3 percent of registered voters cast a ballot.
More people were registered to vote in 2017 -- over a million -- and 6,000 more people voted in 2017.
— Norma Martinez
2:06 a.m., Sunday — Mayoral Race Heads For June 8 Runoff
District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse managed to keep Mayor Ron Nirenberg below 50 percent of the vote on Saturday to force a June 8 runoff.
Nirenberg told his crowd of supporters at a downtown barbeque restaurant that he was ready for a runoff.
“Nothing good comes easy but we are going to continue to grind away every single day," he said, "to make sure our community knows that what unites us is better and more significant and more important than what divides us.”
Election night ended with Brockhouse and Nirenberg within three percentage points between each other. Seven other challengers received one percent or less of the vote. Nirenberg said he knew it would be close.
“We’ve sustained a serious onslaught from two special interest unions," he said, "that have been with their guy sowing their seeds of discord through the city for the last four years.”
He was referring to the police and fire unions, which aggressively campaigned for Brockhouse. Brockhouse worked as a consultant or freelanced for the unions in various capacities. He said in previous interviews he doesn’t run from that relationship.
The unions have a tense relationship with the city and with Nirenberg.
“In this race they’ve doubled down," he said, "and they’ll continue to double down. But guess what -- the community of San Antonio, the people of San Antonio -- will double down on us.”
The last sixty days of the mayoral race included fights and different opinions over climate change, increasing public transportation, property taxes and a proposed Chick-Fil-A at the San Antonio International Airport.
The city council voted to exclude the restaurant from an airport concession contract, a decision Brockhouse opposed. Nirenberg also voted against Brockhouse's motion to revisit the issue.
Brockhouse held his watch party at a restaurant in the city’s Far West Side. He was pleased with Saturday’s results.
“I like our position," he said. "Nobody thought we were going to be here today, and it’s really exciting. I’m thankful to my team and my family, and now we’ve just got to brace ourselves for the next 30 days and get back to work starting Monday.”
Brockhouse said sticking to his core issues kept him in the race.
"We're talking property tax relief. We're talking religious freedom. I mean, those things were voted down at City Hall. We're talking about the basics of building community."
Brockhouse has accused Nirenberg of violating religious freedom with the Chick-Fil-A vote. Nirenberg accused Brockhouse of failing to pay certain property taxes. Brockhouse faced separate allegations of domestic violence against his wife, which he has denied.
Those attacks are unlikely to ease between now and June.
"Ron, for the last 30 days, has talked about nothing but negative personal attacks," Brockhouse said, "and he's living in it. Does it have success? I don't know. We'll see what that looks like going forward in a runoff."
Over the next 30 days, Brockhouse said his focus will be on his message of neighborhoods and families.
“Back to basics," he said. "I think council has gotten so far away from that -- now we step back into this, and people have said pretty loud and clear here, 'let's get to the focus on the things that matter most, the simple stuff.' "
Saturday’s voter turnout was about 11 percent. Both Nirenberg and Brockhouse will have to convince voters to come to the polls again and given the close results, encourage more voters to come to their side.
The runoff will take place June 8.
— Joey Palacios, Brian Kirkpatrick and Dan Katz
11:55 p.m., Saturday — School Board Elections
Results were mixed in the San Antonio Independent School District election, where the teachers union hoped to unseat incumbents. The union was unhappy with the board’s unanimous support for Superintendent Pedro Martinez’s vision for the district, especially his willingness to let outside organizations run almost a quarter of the district’s schools.
Patti Radle, the current board president, won 57 percent of the vote on the West Side, defeating union-backed Janell Rubio.
Alicia Perry, the East Side candidate endorsed by the teachers union, won by a landslide with 885 more votes than her nearest competitor, despite being in a four-way race.
And in District 6, which includes Edison High School, Christina Martinez hung onto her seat with 38 percent of the vote. She received 128 more votes than Chris Castro, a principal in North East ISD, and 224 more votes than Eduardo Torres, a 19-year-old UTSA student.
According to Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen, District 6 could have a recount but the election is final because school boards don’t have runoffs.
Despite the mixed results, teacher union President Shelley Potter was optimistic.
“Overall, looking at the results, I think it shows what we found when we … knocked on doors,” Potter said. “The community is waking up to what’s been happening to their schools, and they’re not happy about it.”
As evidence, Potter pointed out that Martinez’s opponents in District 6 won more votes combined than Martinez did.
“Both Eduardo Torres and Chris Castro had fundamentally different views than the superintendent and the current board,” Potter said, adding that she was pleased with Perry’s win.
“Her election’s historic because she’s the first African American woman ever elected to the SAISD school board,” Potter said.
Radle said she was concerned by the election results, but felt like votes in favor of union-endorsed candidates were influenced by misinformation.
Still, Radle said she was encouraged by her win.
“I’m certainly appreciative of the support that I’ve gotten,” she said, and I feel that it’s a statement about the district moving forward in the direction that we’re going.”
In Harlandale ISD, Ricardo Moreno, the only incumbent running for reelection, won despite the shadow of a state investigation.
Moreno, a middle school teacher in the Northside school district, said he didn’t think his reelection would hurt the district’s chances at avoiding a state takeover.
“Most of these allegations were pertinent to others prior to me, even going back to when I was still in high school at Harlandale ISD,” Moreno said. “Sadly, things that happened 10, 15 years ago are still being thrown into the conversation.”
But in Southside ISD, where a state-appointed board of managers is in charge, voters chose new trustees, replacing incumbents that had lost the trust of the state.
Voters in Bexar County’s other school board races re-elected incumbent trustees, including the Northside, Alamo Heights, Judson and Southwest school districts. In Judson, Lynette Perez won the open seat in District 7.
— Camille Phillips
10:15 p.m., Saturday — San Antonio City Council Races
District 1's Roberto Trevino, covered in cascorone confetti, claimed victory as a back-up R&B band played to cheering supporters.
The race was a crowded one. Trevino faced eight challengers but he won 60 percent of the vote.
He attributed his victory to his efforts to raise the quality of life in his downtown district.
"Like better sidewalks. Like compatible developments in our neighborhoods. Like better lighting. Like the fact that we have a very robust constituent services every single day."
Name recognition undoubtedly benefited every council incumbent. John Courage, Clayton Perry, Ana Sandoval, Shirley Gonzales, Rebecca Viagran and Manny Pelaez all kept their seats.
Candidates in districts without incumbents failed to secure enough votes and now face runoffs on June 8.
In District 2, Keith Toney will face Jada Andrews-Sullivan.
In District 4, Johnny Arredondo will face Adriana Rocha Garcia, who garnered 47 percent of the vote.
And in District 6, Andy Greene will face Melissa Cabello Havrda.
— Paul Flahive
9:08 p.m., Saturday — Runoff Possibility Casts Shadow On Mayoral Race
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and leading challenger District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse may face a runoff election in June.
The prospect of another election emerged as soon as the Bexar County Elections Department released early voting numbers a few moments after 7 p.m.
Either candidate had to receive 50 percent of the vote plus one to avoid a runoff. By 9 p.m., with 80 percent of citywide vote counted, Nirenberg had won more than 48 percent. Brockhouse had 45 percent.
As the numbers trickled in, Brockhouse mingled with supporters at his watch party at a restaurant on San Antonio's West Side. He said he was already looking ahead to the runoff election and was confident in eventual victory.
His supporters, spread out among patio tables and chairs in the shade of live oak trees, shared his enthusiasm. Larry and Margaret Lucido said they voted for Brockhouse because of his productive record as District 6 councilman. They called him well-informed on the issues and said he was responsive to his constiuents.
Nirenberg thanked his volunteers and supporters as he arrived at his watch party on a restuarant on Broadway. The incumbent hugged people as others clapped, and he smiled and pumped his fist in the air.
He thanked them for helping him "make sure that we can continue to grind away ... to make a city that is focused on the future. ..."
— Joey Palacios and Brian Kirkpatrick
Here’s when Mayor Nirenberg took to the stage shortly after arriving. Before the video starts he was talking about progress. Whatever happens tonight he says ready. @TPRNews #SATXDecides pic.twitter.com/80dTiusNMs
— Joey Palacios (@Joeycules) May 5, 2019
Brockhouse has arrived at his election night watch party at upscale Mexican restaurant near SeaWorld. Says he's confident about his runoff chances as early returns place him only two percentage points behind Nirenberg.@TPRNews #SATXDecides pic.twitter.com/RyLPAiZAN5
— TPRBrian (@TprBrian) May 5, 2019
Larry Lucido and Margaret Lucido are Brockhouse supporters at the watch party. Voted fir Brockhouse because he has done a lot for District 6 as a councilman. Says he's well informed on the issues and responsive to constituents. @TPRNews SATX Decides pic.twitter.com/nR1y0w6HWG
— TPRBrian (@TprBrian) May 5, 2019
8:13 p.m., Saturday — Early Vote Tallies For School Board Races
Current board president Patti Radle takes a clear lead in early election results: 62 percent.
And the four-way open District 2 seat shows a strong lead for Alicia Perry, the only candidate endorsed by the teacher union currently in the lead.
It looks like a runoff is a strong possibility for District 6 incumbent Christina Martinez, with 40 percent of the vote. Her two competitors both have 30 percent.
The results could influence @teainfo to either keep its appointed board in place or return to local control -- early voters are favoring fresh faces over incumbents.
The district is trying to avoid a state takeover. Early voters gave the lone incumbent on the ballot a clear lead: 65 percent.
AHISD and SWISD
Incumbents hold clear leads in early voting and look likely to hold onto their seats.
David Hornberger @AHISD holds 75 percent of the early vote, @swisd incumbents Ida Sudolcan & Sylvester Vasquez Jr. received nearly 80 percent.
NISD Incumbents also took the lead in early voting @NISD but not quite as decisively. Bobby Blount 56%; Gerald Lopez 58%. District 2 incumbent Joseph Medina has 46%--possibly leading to a runoff.
Vice President Renee Paschall has 54% of the early vote, and the four-way open race in District 7 looks likely to be a runoff. Lynette Perez is in the lead with 32% of the vote.
— Camille Phillips. Follow her tweets here.
— Joey Palacios (@Joeycules) May 5, 2019
— Camille Phillips (@cmpcamille) May 5, 2019
7:49 p.m., Saturday — Windcrest Early Voters Support All 14 Propositions
Windcrest placed 14 propositions on Saturday's ballot, and, based on early voting numbers, voters supported the proposed changes to city governance.
Some measures focused on the city's recall election process, specifically the reasons why the process of recalling a city council member or mayor could be ignited.
Other measures asked voters if they supported changes to the city charter in order to clarify "the duties of the municipal court clerk, to clarify "the authority of the city attorney and provide the procedure for removal of the city attorney," or "to change the authority of the city manager and mayor, removing the mayor as an operating officer, and designating the city council as the direct supervisor of the city manager?”
Based on early voting numbers, Windcrest voters supported those changes.
Read more about the propositions on the ballot here.
— Joey Palacios (@Joeycules) May 4, 2019
7:10 p.m., Saturday — Early Vote Tallies For Mayoral Race
Based on 73,032 early votes:
Ron Nirenberg 48.15% / Greg Brockhouse 46.11%
7:00 p.m., Saturday — Early Voting Results
The Bexar County Elections Department released early voting numbers at 7 p.m. View them here.
6:55 p.m., Saturday — Expressing Special Spirit
One voter in Saturday's municipal election expressed some extra spirit for his mayoral pick on Saturday.
He wore a Ron Nirenberg shirt … but stitched into it were two additional words.
"It says 'Ron's Dad.' My wife was kind enough to embroider 'Ron's Dad' on it for me."
Ken Nirenberg, a resident of Austin, came down to San Antonio to get out the vote for his son.
— Jack Morgan
6:52 p.m., Saturday — The Controversy
Today was election day in San Antonio and throughout Bexar County. But despite the sunny weather, turnout was slow.
Volunteers for San Antonio mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse joined fire union members under tents at several polling stations around town.
A few voters mentioned the controversial Chick-Fil-A issue, referring to the recent city council decision to remove the restaurant from an airport concession contract.
But only one voter named Clemma was willing to share her view on the record:.
"I saw what we did at the airport with Chick-Fil-A," she said, "and I thought that was such a negative factor for what the whole country stands for. It's like -- this is not right."
Brockhouse, the leading challenger to incumbent mayor Ron Nirenberg, argued the council decision was a threat to religious freedom. The mayor said it was a business decision, nothing more.
— Jack Morgan
6:47 p.m., Saturday — An Honorable Act
San Antonians went to the polls today, but not in record numbers. With no presidential or senatorial candidates on the ballot, the turnout was low, despite the clear weather.
Some voters said they felt it was an honor -- or it was their duty -- to vote.
A voter named Zach explained that "I do believe that what we have in a democracy is a great idea and ought to be maintained, and that's part of the reason I come here."
Clemma agreed: "This is the greatest privilege that we have as a United States citizen, is to express our voice for who we would like to have as the leader of our community."
Barry was downbeat: "I'm somewhat disappointed with the turnout as I can tell as I drive around town and see the varying polling places that they are mostly empty."
Carea pointed to her upbringing: "I was raised to go vote -- your vote matters -- so I vote every election."
Polls closed at 7 p.m.
— Jack Morgan
6:00 p.m., Saturday — Vote counts from early voting will be officially released at 7 p.m.
In the meantime, learn more about school board elections, early turnout and the mayoral candidates.
Tell us about your voting experience with tweet OR leave a voicemail at (210) 615-8928 and your comments may go to air pic.twitter.com/7pM7f3r4e0
— TPR News (@TPRNews) May 3, 2019
You can also follow our reporters as they tweet from the studio and from the field:
- Camille Phillips is following the school board elections.
- Brian Kirkpatrick is following the Greg Brockhouse campaign.
- Joey Palacios is following the Ron Nirenberg campaign.
- Paul Flahive is following San Antonio's city council races.
- Jack Morgan checked in with voters and monitored election day turnout throughout the day.
Fernando Ortiz Jr. contributed to this report.