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Early Voting for Corpus Christi Mayor, Four Council Seats Dec. 8-14

The race for mayor between incumbent Joe McComb (left) and challenger Michael Hall heads a ballot of five runoffs to decide the next Corpus Christi City Council. Early voting is Dec. 8-14. Election Day is Dec. 18. Courtesy photos

Corpus Christi voters are not done yet. On Dec. 18, the final election of the year — the midterm runoffs — will be held to choose the city’s mayor and fill four of eight seats on the City Council. Early voting begins Saturday, Dec. 8, and continues daily through Friday, Dec. 14. All registered voters can cast a ballot in this election, even if they did not vote in the Nov. 6 midterms.

With 30 candidates vying for the nine positions on the Corpus Christi City Council, including the mayor, runoffs for the Nov. 6 midterms were inevitable. In the highest-profile local race on the ballot, Democrat Barbara Canales was elected Nueces County judge, the first woman to serve in that position in the county’s 172 years.

The city also gained approval of six bond initiatives for a total of $95 million. The council that gets to begin the process of spending that money and run the city for the next two years will be decided in the upcoming runoffs.

Mayor Joe McComb will face off against challenger Michael Hall, 28, the youngest of any of the candidates on the city ballot. McComb barely missed winning outright, finishing with 49.73 percent of the vote. He needed a slight percentage above 50 to avoid a runoff. McComb received 36,313 votes.

Opponent Michael Hall received received 14,260 votes, which is about 20 percent.

Results for the other three candidates were: Aislynn Campbell, 18 percent with 13,197 votes; Ray Madrigal De Pancho Villa, 8.61 percent with 6,253 votes; and Dan McQueen with 3.85 percent, or 2,795 votes.

Districts 1, 2, 3, and 5 will also be on the runoff ballot. Only incumbent Greg Smith, who represents District 4, won his election against one challenger with 70 percent of the vote.

At-large seats were given to the top three out of seven candidates, returning incumbents Paulette Guajardo, Michael Hunter, and Rudy Garza Jr. to the council. Garza represented District 5 before the election. He gave up that seat to run for an at-large position.

The most hotly contested race is in District 3, an open seat to replace Lucy Rubio, who resigned to become a justice of the peace. District 3 also became the most talked about race after one candidate, who later was indicted on a felony prostitution charge, smeared Rubio’s name on her retirement cake. Another filed suit to keep his opponent off the runoff ballot. A third of the five candidates died before Election Day, after ballots were printed.

Eric Lee Tunchez was indicted during the campaign, but before he the indictment, he attended a public recognition of Rubio’s term on the City Council. She resigned early to prepare for taking the justice position. She was running unopposed as the incumbent, who was planning to run for re-election, died earlier in the year. His name was NOT on the ballot.

Before the party could get started in City Council chambers, Tunchez was caught on tape cutting a piece of Rubio’s celebratory cake before she even saw it. Although he denies what happened next, the tape shows him walking away then turning back and using his finger to smear the red icing.

The saga of the District 3 race and its smeared sugar earned itself a story in the December issue of Texas Monthly: “The Corpus Christi City Council Cake Caper.” Texas Monthly went to press too soon. This is the rest of the story.

The top two vote-getters in the Nov. 6 race, Roland Barrera with 42.09 percent and Eric Cantu with 35.47 percent, ended up in court before their names were printed on the runoff ballot. Cantu filed a motion in district court to disqualify Barrera for not filing his campaign finance report by deadline. Barrera said the late filing was an honest mistake that he has since corrected.

A visiting judge from Brownsville, State District Judge Benjamin Euresti, was brought in to avoid conflict of interest. He ruled Barrera was “eligible to be placed on the ballot.” Euresti referred to Section F, “Review of Application; Notice to Candidate,” of the Texas Election Code to determine that council candidate requirement No. 12 did not fall within guidelines for disqualification.

Drawing for the placement of the names on the ballot was held before the hearing, despite Cantu’s protests. City Secretary Rebecca Huerta was handed a copy of Cantu’s motion for an injunction to keep Barrera’s name off the ballot just moments before the drawing. Without a decision, however, the city decided to continue. Barrera drew second place on the ballot. (This story will pick up where it left off on Dec. 19 after the ballots are counted.)

The other runoff races are not as colorful but equally important.

In District 2, incumbent Ben Molina, who took 40.49 percent of the vote, will face challenger Sylvia Campos, who received 35.10 percent. Their totals are separated by 508 votes.

The runoff for District 1’s representation on the council pits incumbent Everett Roy against Joy Miller. Roy received 38.45 percent of the vote, while Miller took 30.82 percent.

Another open seat, District 5, split the vote almost evenly between the four candidates. The top two vote-getters in the runoff are Gil Hernandez, who garnered 28.58 percent of the vote, and Paul Thurman with 25.02 percent.

Early voting polls will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, and Sunday, Dec. 9, and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 10-14.

Locations for early voting include:


Nueces County Courthouse

901 Leopard St.


Corpus Christi City Hall

1201 Leopard St. (Closed Dec. 8-9)


Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center

5151 McArdle Road


Driscoll ISD

Guadalupe Hernandez Complex

654 Graham Road


Ethel Eyerly Senior Center

654 Graham Road


Greenwood Senior Center

4040 Greenwood Drive


Hilltop Community Center

11425 Leopard St.


Schlitterbahn

14353 Commodores Drive


The Valencia

6110 Ayers St.


Veterans Memorial High School

3750 Cimarron Blvd. (Closed Dec. 8)


On Election Day, which is Tuesday, Dec. 18, polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at these voting centers:


Cimarron Senior Apartments

2802 Cimarron Blvd.


Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center

5151 McArdle Road


Driscoll ISD

Guadalupe Hernandez Complex

425 W. Dragon St.


Ethel Eyerly Senior Center

654 Graham Road


Gibson Elementary

5723 Hampshire Road


Grace Presbyterian Church

6301 Yorktown Blvd.


Greenwood Senior Center

4040 Greenwood Drive


Hamlin Middle School

3900 Hamlin Drive


Hilltop Community Center

11425 Leopard St.


La Retama Central Library

805 Comanche St.


Lindale Senior Center

3135 Swantner St.


LULAC West Apartments

10702 Interstate 37


Magee Elementary (Star Annex)

4201 Calallen Drive


Montclair Elementary

5241 Kentner St.


Oveal Williams Senior Center

1414 Martin Luther King Drive


Parkway Presbyterian Church

3707 Santa Fe St.


Schlitterbahn

14353 Commodores Drive


The Valencia

6110 Ayers St.


Villa of Corpus Christi-South

4834 Yorktown Blvd.


West Oso Jr. High School

5202 Bear Lane


Woodlawn Elementary

1110 Woodlawn Drive


Zavala Senior Center

510 Osage St.


Curbside voting is available at all locations by calling (361) 888-0303.

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