Hinojosa, Guerra enter May 26 runoff in Willacy district attorney’s race

Salazar faces Maldonado in the race for replace Sheriff Larry Spence

RAYMONDVILLE — Runoff elections are set to decide the winners in two of Willacy County biggest races.

Voters will return to the polls Tuesday, May 26 to decide the runoff pitting District Attorney Annette Hinojosa and former District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra.

In the March 3 Democratic Primary, Hinojosa captured 1,705 votes while Guerra pulled 1,212 to clinch positions in the runoff.

Former District Attorney Bernard Ammerman, a Travis County prosecutor who lost his seat to Hinojosa four years ago, fell short of the runoff with 833 votes.

Meanwhile, Guerra, a defense attorney who held the prosecutor’s office from 1997 to 2008, pulled stronger numbers than he did four years ago, when he narrowly missed the runoff.

Monday, Democratic Party Chairman Lefty Cavazos noted runoffs traditionally draw fewer voters to the polls.

“To me it’s a toss up,” Cavazos said of the DA’s race. “Typically in runoffs, people have a tendency not to go out and vote. I think it’s going to be close.”

Sheriff’s race

In the race for the sheriff’s badge, Precinct 2 Constable Joe Salazar swept up 1,226 votes while Andres “Andy” Maldonado, who holds the department’s major’s rank, clinched 849 votes to set the stage for the May 26 runoff.

“He pulled a lot of votes,” Cavazos said, referring to Salazar. “He surprised the hell out of me. He’s been more involved in the community and I think people saw that.”

Ernie Garcia, the department’s former major who left the office to run for its top badge, fell short of the runoff with 822 votes.

This year, the election led several deputies to enter the first race since 1985 in which Sheriff Larry Spence wasn’t a candidates. Last year, Spence chose not to seek re-election as he focuses on his battle against cancer.

Candidates who fell short of entering the runoff include Danny Solis, a cook and former deputy sheriff who drew 270 votes; J.M. Gonzalez, a deputy sheriff who picked up 331 votes, and Isabel Hernandez, a deputy sheriff who finished with 295 votes.

Precinct 2 Constable

In the race for the Precinct 2 Constable’s badge, Andres “Andy” Chavez, a former Raymondville police officer who serves as the city’s code enforcement director, pulled 471 votes to enter in the runoff with Juan Mijares, a deputy constable who drew 361 votes.

Meanwhile, Gustavo “Gus” Prieto, a deputy constable, fell short of the runoff with 180 votes.

Vera wins Precinct 3 badge

In the race for the county’s Precinct 3 constable’s badge, incumbent Ben Vera drew 570 votes to defeat Jonathan Scaggs, a Kenedy County sheriff’s deputy, who finished with 245 votes.

Guerra beats Gonzales

Meanwhile, former County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. lost his bid for the county’s Precinct 5 constable’s badge.

In that race, former prison guard Manuel Guerra picked up 190 votes to defeat Gonzales, who managed 73 votes.

In a hard-fought battle in 2014, Gonzales, who’s worked as an insurance agent, lost his gavel to Judge Aurelio Guerra.

In the county’s Republican Primary, there are no candidates running in contested races.

Early voting runs from May 18 through 22.