Hotly contested races to draw Willacy County voters

RAYMONDVILLE — Early voting begins Tuesday for the March 1 primary election in which Willacy County District Attorney Bernard Ammerman and County Commissioner Fred Serrato seek re-election in hotly contested races.

Ammerman faces former longtime District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra and attorney Annette Hinojosa in the race for the county’s top prosecutor’s job.

Democratic Party Chairman Lefty Cavazos predicted the race for district attorney would draw strong numbers to the polls.

“There’s immense interest,” Cavazos said. “The candidates for district attorney have really been hitting the streets. They’re very well known.”

Ammerman, known for his tough prosecution, won election in November 2008, going on to win a second term in 2012.

Guerra lost his seat in a three-man primary in 2008 after serving 12 consecutive and controversial years as district attorney.

Serrato faces former Commissioner Emilio Vera Jr., Lyford Mayor Henry De La Paz and Juan Peña, a U.S. Department of Agriculture district conservationalist, in the race Precinct 3’s commission seat.

Serrato, who defeated Vera in 2008, had served on the commission from 1985 to 2004, when he chose not to seek re-election.

Vera, a retired auto shop owner, had served on the commission from 2004 to 2008.

Three incumbents are vying for their seats in contested constable races.

In the race for Precinct 1’s badge, Constable Alberto Oviedo Jr. faces Carlos Ybarra, a criminal justice teacher.

Incumbent Hector Tijerina faces Michael Mesa, a mounted patrol inspector, and Jose Salazar, a peace officer, for Precinct 2’s constable’s seat.

In the race for Precinct 3’s constable’s post, incumbent Ben Vera faces Miguel Sanchez, a police officer.

Early voting runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Feb. 26 at the Reber Memorial Library annex, 193 N. Fourth St., Raymondville.