Ana Sandoval, a 42-year-old Thomas Jefferson High School valedictorian with engineering degrees from MIT and Stanford and a graduate degree in public health from Harvard, stunned incumbent District 7 Councilman Cris Medina on Saturday night, winning a razor-thin general election victory with 50.79% of the votes.
Medina finished a distant second with 36.29%, insufficient to secure a spot in a runoff. Three other candidates drew 15% of the total. With 100% of the votes counted, Sandoval outdistanced Medina, 5,957 to 4,257.
“I’m really grateful for everybody’s help and just excited to get to work,” Sandoval told the Rivard Report. “We have a lot of stuff on our to-do list right now. I’m really excited to bring the will of the people to City Hall and to just put us on the map again.”
Her victory is the result of her deep roots in the district, she said, and the support of family, friends, and school teachers.
Medina has long been seen as the weakest of the 10 current members of City Council, seldom showing up for committee meetings and unable to point to much in the way of accomplishments or policy initiatives. His political career appeared to be in danger of collapse several years ago when San Antonio Police Chief William McManus disclosed that Medina was the subject of a federal investigation after a trip to Las Vegas by the councilman raised questions about his use of an officeholder’s account to access ATM cash withdrawals after hours. That investigation, however, never led to any charges.
It was the most dramatic turn of events as City Council saw two other incumbents, District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño and District 2 Councilman Alan Warrick, fall short of general election wins and forced into runoffs on June 10.
Voters appeared to have mixed feelings about the District 1 and 2 council incumbents, giving challengers the opportunity to reach a second round of voting.
Treviño collected 4,408 votes, good for 48.76%, but not enough to win outright over his main challenger, Michael Montaño, who won 2,843 votes, 31.45%. Four other candidates accounted for the other 19.79%.
Warrick also will be in a runoff, winning only 2,410 votes, 40.86% of the turnout in District 2, while his main challenger William “Cruz” Shaw finished second with 1,689 votes, 28.64%. Keith Toney, who was appointed to the council seat when Taylor was appointed mayor in July 2014 and then lost in the May 2015 election to Warrick, finished third with 1,380 votes, 23.4%.
Three incumbents had an easy night against ineffective challengers.
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran sailed to an easy re-election with 62% of the vote against six challengers. District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña finished with 78% of the vote against two challengers. District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales won just under 66% of the vote against five challengers.
Four vacant council seats in districts 6, 8, 9, and 10, meanwhile, also will be decided in second-round runoffs as incumbents stepped down in those districts. Ray Lopez was term limited out in District 6, Nirenberg vacated 8 to run for mayor, and Joe Krier in 9 and Michael Gallagher in 10 chose not to seek re-election.
In District 6, Greg Brockhouse was the strongest of eight candidates seeking Lopez’s open seat. He finished with 3,064 votes, 36%, while all evening Melissa Cabello Havrda and Ricardo “Rick” Treviño were in a dead heat with 20% of the vote each. In the end, Cabello Havrda finished with 1,757 votes, 20.57%, winning a runoff spot by a margin of 28 votes over Treviño, who finished with 1,719 votes, 20.24%. Four other candidates were on the ballot.
In District 8, Cynthia Brehm finished first with 3,716 votes, 33% over Manny Pelaez with 3,034 votes, 27%. Four other candidates were on the ballot.
In District 9, Marco Barros drew 3,616 votes – just under 25% – while John Courage was second with 3,281 votes, 22.4%. Eight other candidates were on the ballot.
In District 10, Ezra Johnson and Clayton Perry were in a virtual dead heat for the runoff positions. Johnson received 2,733 votes, 21.69%, versus Perry’s 2,715, 21,55%, a difference 18 votes in the night’s closest contest. Eight other candidates were on the ballot.
The Rivard Report will publish reports on each undecided council race in advance of early voting for the runoff to give each district’s voters better sense of the candidates and their platforms.
Few City Council elections produce such drama. One incumbent lost outright Saturday and two others were forced into runoffs. Four vacant seats will bring four more new members to City Council, assuring that at least half of the 10 seats will be occupied by new members.
Click here to view the vote count totals on the Bexar County website.