The Alamo Colleges George E. Killen Community Education & Service Center is located at 201 W. Sheridan St.
Alamo Colleges will be eliminating debt for some students as part of the "Fresh Start" program. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Incumbent Alamo Colleges trustee Roberto Zárate retained his position by a mere seven votes over challenger James Hernandez in a runoff election Saturday.

The election to determine the community college system’s District 5 trustee drew only 1.22 percent of the 105,281 registered voters in the district that stretches from the west side of downtown to Loop 1604. Zárate, a retired educator who has served on the board since 2003, got 637 votes.

Hernandez, who graduated from Kennedy High School and works as a case manager at Roy Maas Youth Alternatives, said he might request a recount.

“I need to talk it over with my team,” Hernandez told the Rivard Report on Sunday.

The Bexar County Elections Department reported 15 “under votes,” ballots that were submitted with no candidate selected. Hernandez said that while he is unsure whether he will request a recount, he would like to explore what happened with those 15 ballots.

The majority of voting occurred during the early voting period. Only 175 voters actually cast ballots on election day.

Bexar County’s election fatigue is to blame for poor voter turnout, Zárate said.

“We had elections all through the spring, and these runoffs have not helped at all in terms of people getting engaged,” Zárate said. Saturday’s contest was the fourth election in Bexar County since March.

“Trustees at the Alamo Colleges District are not on everybody’s priority list, so that is some of it, too. … When we try to get out the community college story, there is very little interest,” Zárate said.

Hernandez said he plans to stay civically active in his Westside community and may eventually run for Edgewood Independent School District’s board.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.