Presidio elects new council member and three newcomers to school board

Photo by Erika Campos / With the help of Oreo the calf, Iris Galindo campaigned on Saturday for a seat on the Presidio school board. Galindo won the most votes of all seven candidates, likely earning a board seat once the votes have been canvassed.

PRESIDIO – Presidio’s City Hall and school board hosted eventful elections on Saturday, May 1, with many new faces joining the ranks of public servants after all the votes were tallied. While the votes have not been officially canvassed, initial vote tallies have indicated the likely winners set to take office soon.

At City Hall, Mayor John Ferguson handily won the race to hold onto the city’s top elected position, outpacing his opponent John A. Razo with 333 votes to Razo’s 173 votes. Ferguson will be entering his fifth consecutive term in office, and said this week he was looking forward to another term. “Given that the pandemic put so many things on ‘hold’ over the past year, I am very eager to reconnect with everyone, face-to-face, and work together to find ways to make Presidio the best it can be,” the mayor said. “With the current city council and city employees, I believe we will accomplish a great deal because we share the same sense of purpose.”

Also returning to the council will be Rogelio A. Zubia, who earned 306 votes, and Irvin Olivas who received 262. Both will serve full terms. Filling the city’s one unexpired term is newcomer Abel “Billy” Hernandez, taking over a seat his father, Salvador Ornelas Hernandez, held exactly 22 years earlier.

Hernandez retired from 20 years working in the county’s maintenance department, and hopes to strike a balance between embracing tourism and industrial business to revitalize the city’s economy. This week, the newly-elected official recognized his opponent Trisha Runyan, calling her “a dedicated, focused, hard working individual who represented herself very well and ran an excellent campaign.” He thanked his supporters and asked for the opportunity to gain the trust and confidence of those who had not supported his run. “I am looking forward to meeting with and working with the rest of the city council, but more importantly, I am looking forward to listening to the concerns of the people of Presidio,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez received 412 votes, overcoming Runyan’s 78. Runyan had been appointed to the vacant council seat previously, but will now exit her role on council. “Billy won by a substantial margin and I’m going to hold him accountable to those voters,” she said, adding, “That includes being of help for him whenever he asks.”

At the Presidio Independent School District, seven candidates ran for three at-large seats with four-year terms on the board. After initial vote counts, it looks like Iris S. Galindo, Juventino “Tino” Martinez and Jusby Vasquez will join the board, earning 335, 310 and 236 votes, respectively.

Galindo campaigned for constituents’ votes on Saturday, trotting out a calf wearing a sign that urged voters to choose her for a seat on the board. Her victory, along with Martinez’s and Vasquez’s, shows voters were ready to see new voices represent them.

“I am incredibly grateful to all the people who placed their trust in me and supported me in these elections. I will do everything in my power to deliver on this trust with my service,” Galindo said after getting the most votes of the seven candidates. “My actions will always prioritize the well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”

Galindo, a mother of two, campaigned on an “open door policy” to hear students, parents and staff members at Presidio’s schools, and plans to draw on her prior experience as a teacher in the district.

Martinez, a father of four kids who attend each Presidio school, said he hoped to support teachers and staff who have supported students through a tough pandemic-year. He also hoped to improve communication between the board and the community, “Through the internet, the school page online, the newspaper, letters, or face our community with questions and answers in person.”

Vasquez, who has served on the elementary school PTO and is a parent of three, said, “There was a lot of dissatisfaction last semester due to the lack of transparency regarding decisions made during the peak of the pandemic, and I think in order to improve our education system, we need to all work together, because at the end of the day, we all want what is best for our students.”

Among those who did not garner enough votes to be on the board this time around were Roxana “Roxy” Cabello (217 votes), Gabriela Hernandez (192 votes), incumbent and recent Board Vice President Velva Saenz (121 votes) and incumbent and recent Board Secretary Alfred P. Muniz (127 votes.)

Turnout was modest at elections this year, but compared to some recent elections that have been called off due to only having uncontested races, the number of candidates for office gave voters the option to exercise their right to participate in the process of democracy last weekend.