With Ina Minjarez’s decision to run for Bexar County judge, House District 124 will see only its third new representative in 22 years.

In the Westside district where José Menéndez was elected to eight terms before winning a seat in the Texas Senate, his successor Minjarez is vacating her seat for a high-profile race.

The race for the open District 124 seat hasn’t drawn nearly as much attention, so an aggressive ground game or even a small effort could be enough to drum up name recognition or generate voter turnout to win the election, said Walter Wilson, a UTSA political science professor. He said this is because the election has gotten little media coverage, and because the candidates have relatively low public profiles. Only one candidate, Gerald Lopez, has served in an elected position, on a school board.

“Voters don’t like to go into the voting booth completely lacking information, so that small effort could make a difference here,” he said. “Voter turnout efforts win the day.”

Nearly three-fourths of district residents are Hispanic, according to census estimates, and the district has a per capita income of roughly $23,500 — compared to the state average of $31,000. Roughly 14% of residents are counted as being in poverty.

The district was recently redrawn to shift more to the southeast, where it includes areas nearer to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

On the Republican side, Johnny Arredondo, a retired retail supervisor and volunteer basketball coach, is running unopposed in his party’s primary.

Here are the candidates running in the Democratic primary:

Josey Garcia

Josey Garcia co-founded the activist group Reliable Revolutionaries, which she said does a “little bit of everything,” including provide social services for at-risk youth and advocate for police reform legislation. She represented the group while speaking in support of the George Floyd Act at the Texas Capitol last year.

The Air Force veteran and lawn care business owner said if elected, her priorities in office would be reforming the foster care system, the criminal justice system, law enforcement and jails. She supports a $15 minimum wage and expanded Medicaid in Texas. She said she wants to see the state return to the “post-9/11 patriotism.”

She also said she wanted to see “fiscally responsible” pandemic relief for individuals and businesses.

“I’m not a politician, I’m a community advocate,” she said. “I’m here to serve our community first.”

To gain voter support and name recognition, she said she has been going door to door in the district, sending out mailers and texting likely voters.

She has been endorsed by Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6), the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio and the Bexar County Tejano Democrats.

Steven Gilmore

Steven Gilmore is a criminal defense attorney who primarily defends indigent clients, and also said he defended local activists arrested during protests of Donald Trump’s inauguration. He has been involved with the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, and said he is running from the “left-most flank” of the race.

He said he would be a voice for organized labor in the Texas House, and said he is the only candidate in the primary who has walked a picket line, pointing to his involvement in 2012 with a strike of flour mill workers in Southtown. In his support for labor unions, he makes an exception for law enforcement unions, because he said those unions’ interests run counter to those of other unions.

Gilmore said if elected he would fight against what he described as a prevailing notion in the Democratic party that “politics is about compromise, and compromise is about capitulating.” He said his own experience with tough legal cases have given him the experience he needs for a more combative posture.

“I understand what it means to fight a losing battle and still come out on top,” he said.

The Texas AFL-CIO has endorsed both Gilmore and Lopez.

Gilmore’s most recent campaign finance filings, covering the last six months of 2021, reported $1,250 in contributions, with expenditures of $750 and $500 remaining in cash.

Gerald Lopez

Lopez is serving his second term on the Northside Independent School District board of trustees and is the owner of a one-man landscaping business.

“I’m running because of what I saw on the school board,” he said. “A lot of what I’m focusing on is the basics — what we as a community should have.”

If elected to the Texas House, he said he would push for more internet connectivity, and to treat internet access as a utility. He said during Northside ISD’s switch to remote learning at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he found many students did not have access to a laptop or to the internet.

Other priorities he listed included increasing the stock of affordable housing, which he said could stabilize the lives of some students and boost property tax revenues for school districts, as well as expanding access to unemployment benefits for independent contractors. He said he also wants the state to expand Medicaid.

Lopez secured the endorsement of Menéndez and of state Rep. Ray Lopez. Gerald Lopez served as chief of staff for Lopez when he was a city councilman representing District 6. The two are not related.

Lopez’s campaign reported contributions of about $5,660 for the period of Jan. 1-Jan. 31, expenditures of $8,300 and about $1,400 in cash on hand.

He said he has campaigned by block-walking, leaving literature on doors and putting up signs. He hosted a meet-and-greet event in January.

Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham writes about business and technology. Contact him at waylon@sareport.org.