RIO HONDO — Mayor Alonzo Garza changed his mind again, this time saying he will not seek a recount of Saturday’s election tally that shows City Commissioner Gustavo Olivares defeated him by four votes.
Garza said Monday that he had reconsidered his Saturday night announcement that he would request a recount after supporters urged him to contest election results that show Olivares won 254 votes to his 250.
Supporters told him they would pay Cameron County to recount the votes, Garza said.
“I changed my mind,” Garza said. “I put it in prayer and this is what the good Lord wanted. I’m just going to let Mr. Olivares become our new leader of Rio Hondo. It’s a sign of him blooming.”
Garza said he will leave politics to spend time with his family and tend to a health condition that he has declined to disclose.
“At this moment, I just want some time to myself and my family,” Garza said.
Last month, Garza announced his withdrawal from the mayor’s race two weeks before he decided to re-enter the contest, saying his doctor told him his health allowed him to seek a third term.
Cameron County Elections Administrator Chris Davis said Garza has until 5 p.m. Thursday to request a recount that would cost him $180.
Olivares said Garza’s decision to reconsider his recount request means the city can put the election to rest.
“I’m happy we’re going to get this out of the way,” Olivares, Cameron County’s interim director of environmental health, said. “We need to get this behind us and get to work.”
Olivares has a year remaining on his second two-year term, and said commissioners will appoint a replacement to fill his Place 1 seat.
Officials plan to canvass the vote today before Olivares, incumbent commissioners Rick Tello and Mike Uresti take the oath of office.
Tello, a businessman, won 338 votes to defeat former Commissioner Anita Lozano, a school secretary who received 164 votes.
Uresti, a contractor, won 270 votes to defeat former Commissioner Kitter Huerta, a law enforcement officer, who fell short with 230 votes.
Unofficial results show 514 voters, or 35.9 percent of the city’s 1,428 registered voters, cast ballots in the election, 373 during the early voting period and 141 on Election Day, a county elections clerk said.
A crowded school board election drove 1,621 voters to cast ballots, school district Business Manager Florence Landry said.
Political newcomers Jessica Gonzales, Arnold Martinez and Claudia Villalobos defeated incumbents Susan Lopez, Noemi Garza and Rene Alfaro while incumbent Noe Alaniz beat challenger Mike St. John.
Some candidates said the push to re-elect Garza drove many new voters to the polls.
Voter turnout likely set a record, Landry said.
“I planted a seed,” Garza said. “I thank the citizens of Rio Hondo for waking up. They woke up a giant. People want changes. That’s what moves this country forward. That’s what it’s all about.”
Garza did not discount re-entering politics in the future.
“Time will tell,” Garza said. “It’s not about me. It’s what the citizens want.”