Candidates, campaigners face hot weather on Election Day

Cesar Rendon campaigns for his candidate for Brownsville's 138th District Court Judge, Gabby Garcia, Tuesday outside the polling location at Burns Elementary. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

The primary runoff elections in Brownsville began at 7 a.m. sharp under the hot Tuesday morning sun. Candidates and their supporters gathered at local polling stations and spoke to media, held signs, and encouraged members of the public to take a moment out of the busy work week to cast a ballot.

Outside Burns Elementary, supporters with incumbent Sheriff Omar Lucio gathered and waved as vehicles drove past on Alton Gloor Boulevard, honking and waving at the various candidates running for seats on the Democratic Party ticket.

In the race for Cameron County Sheriff, former district clerk Eric Garza is challenging Lucio’s 19-year reign. Gabriela “Gabby” Garcia and Helen Delgadillo are facing off for a seat on the 138th State District Court, and state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. is facing a challenge from progressive candidate Sara Stapleton Barrera.

On the Republican Party ticket, only one race went to a runoff — incumbent Pedro Delgadillo is hoping for a win over challenger Norman Esquivel, Jr. for Cameron County Constable, Precinct 1.

Voter turnout was slow during the day at some of Brownsville’s busiest precincts. At the Brownsville Public Library in Southmost, voters moved in and out while the occasional vehicle pulled up for curbside service.

At the Cameron County Courthouse, a slow but steady flow of voters entered the facility as lunchtime approached. Cromack Elementary saw various voters as late afternoon approached, and at El Jardin Elementary (one of Brownsville’s Republican polling stations), two campaigners sat near the school, directing voters to the entrance.

Campaigners at other polling locations said traffic was slow, but expected to see a surge of voters between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. when a large chunk of Brownsville’s workforce finishes the day.

Veronica Cruz, 59, spent 10 hours outside Russell Elementary with her husband. The couple campaigned for Eddie Lucio, Jr., but Cruz said she opts to assist neighborhood residents every year in celebration of her family, which was heavily involved in Valley politics — and simply because she wants to encourage the community to get involved.

Cruz’s mother was a teacher for 35 years and taught Senator Lucio, Jr., two county judges, doctors, dentists, attorneys, superintendents, and principals. Her great uncle was J.T. Canales, for which the local elementary school is named.

Cruz cheered on voters as they drove out, thanking them for casting a ballot. She counted roughly 60 voters at the precinct where she estimated there are 800 people registered.

The couple cited economic difficulties faced by voters both young and old, transportation issues, and concerns over COVID as roadblocks to turnout in local elections. She urged the community to recognize the power of their votes and voices.