Willacy commissioner race goes into a runoff

RAYMONDVILLE — Longtime Willacy County Commissioner Fred Serrato and Lyford Mayor Henry De La Paz appear headed for a May 24 runoff election.

Unofficial results show De La Paz won 236 votes while Serrato picked up 229 votes to go into the runoff for the Precinct 3 County Commission seat.

Former County Commissioner Emilio Vera Jr. took 222 votes to narrowly miss the runoff.

Juan Peña, a U.S. Department of Agriculture district conservationalist, finished with 96 votes.

Slim margins separated the top three vote-getters.

Since taking office in 1985, Serrato has won every election he has entered.

“I feel great,” Serrato said. “It’s up to the people, whatever they want, I’m with them.”

Serrato and the County Commission faced tough budget cuts last year after the Willacy County Correctional Center shut down, slashing a third of the county’s budget and laying off 400 employees.

“I’m not really a politician,” Serrato said. “I’m a worker. I do my job. I don’t feel above anyone else. My bosses are the people who pay my salary.”

De La Paz said he pulled strong support from Lyford, where he has served as mayor since 2009.

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