Recount underway in hotly contested BISD race

Members of the Recount Committee sort ballots from Election Day Wednesday for a recount of the Brownsville Independent School District board of trustees for Place 6 race in the central jury room at the Cameron County Courthouse. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

If you’ve ever wondered whether the vote you’re casting actually makes any difference, this year’s race for Position 6 on the Brownsville Independent School District Board of Tustees provides ample proof that it surely does.

Marisa V. Leal beat out then-board president Minerva M. Pena by one vote in her bid for a fourth term on the board, setting up the recount now taking place in the Central Jury Room of the Cameron County Courthouse on Harrison Street in Brownsville.

The official count was 16,535 for Leal and 16,534 for Pena, and Leal was sworn into office Thursday afternoon.

“What it tells you is that every vote counts, every vote is important and this is the proof,” Leal said Wednesday afternoon in the hallway outside the jury room, where the official recount committee was busy getting ballots organized so the recount could begin as scheduled at 1 p.m. today.

Leal said that having run a clean race, she was satisfied with the original result. She said she hopes the recount comes out the same as or by a better margin than the first time.

“The process is crazy,” she added, saying that even after she received training, “once you see it happening it’s amazing. It’s very well organized.”

For her part Pena said she was hoping her vote total would increase. She said she asked for the recount at the urging of her supporters and for hers and their peace of mind.

“They worked hard, and because of the support they have shown me I thought it was the right thing to do and went ahead and asked for the recount,” she said.

“I’m praying that God allows me to serve another term, but at the end of the day, win, lose or draw I’ll be here to serve the community.”

Each candidate has observers in the process who will be present as the recount proceeds at 13 tables inside the jury room.

County Elections Administrator Remi Garza said officials were first getting Election Day ballots organized by precinct, followed by early voting ballots by election location. Election Day ballots will be recounted starting at 1 p.m. today. As Election Day ballots are counted officials will continue to organize early voting ballots.

Garza said he hopes to have the recount complete sometime Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Pena asked for the recount and paid $60 per precinct to have it done. With 47 precincts to count, the cost was $2,820.