Strong turnout for early voting

RAYMONDVILLE — For a runoff, Tuesday’s election pulled a strong early vote.

During the one-week early voting period closing yesterday, 1,152 voters cast early ballots compared with 1,138 early votes cast during a two-week period before the March 1 Democratic primary election.

“It’s been steady,” Elections Administrator Hope Barrera said yesterday. “It has been pretty hectic.”

Tuesday’s runoff pits District Attorney Bernard Ammerman against attorney Annette Hinojosa in the race for the county’s top prosecutor’s badge.

Meanwhile, longtime County Commissioner Fred Serrato faces Lyford Mayor Henry De La Paz in the battle for Precinct 3’s Commission seat.

Runoff elections, whose ballots feature fewer candidates than primary elections, tend to draw fewer voters to the polls.

“Usually, the interest is not so great for a runoff,” Barrera said.

But Tuesday’s runoff has sparked voter interest.

It’s the race for the district attorney’s job that’s driving most voters to the polls, Democratic Party Chairman Lefty Cavazos said.

“It’s the hottest race in the county,” Cavazos said. “Both candidates are from the Sebastian area and both are working real hard.”

Ammerman, the president of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association who is vying for a third term in office, said he is running on his record as a prosecutor who helped bring the county’s crime rate to a 10-year low, slashing violent crime by 43 percent.

Hinojosa, a longtime Raymondville attorney who has served as a public defender in state District court, said she has picked up the backing of supporters of former longtime District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra, who fell short of making the runoff in March’s primary election.

In the race for the County Commission’s Precinct 3 seat, Serrato is undefeated as he heads into the runoff with De La Paz.

Serrato, a former deputy sheriff who was first elected to the commission in 1985, served through 2004, when he chose not to seek re-election. Then in 2008, he returned to office.

De La Paz, a loan company’s regional director, was first elected to Lyford’s City Commission in 2006 before winning the mayor’s seat in 2009.

In the race for Precinct 2’s constable’s badge, incumbent Hector Tijerina faces Jose Salazar, a peace officer.