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Salinas, Gutierrez head to runoff

20140516 Mayor-Candidates-for-webLooking toward a runoff in the race for mayor of Mission, both incumbent Norberto "Beto" Salinas and challenger Jaime Gutierrez are hoping to gain votes from Dr. John Guerra, who was pushed out of the race Saturday.

And Jessica Ortega-Ochoa, a political newcomer who was running against incumbent Maria Elena Ramirez for Place 1 on the council, took 53 percent of the votes, pushing Ramirez out of the office.

Salinas just missed avoiding a runoff with 49 percent of the votes, according to unofficial totals. Collectively, Gutierrez and Guerra received 2,698 votes to Salinas’ 2,590. Gutierrez, with 31 percent and 1,640 votes will face Salinas in a runoff on June 21. Early voting is scheduled for June 9-17.

“I feel terrible. I didn’t think it was going to go to a runoff,” Salinas said Monday after the election. “But we’ve got to take it as it comes. We’re going to be OK. We’re just going to have to do it all over again.”

The mayor outspent Gutierrez in the May election 2-1 and outspent Guerra by about 10-1.

Salinas said he’s heard he’ll earn more votes from some folks who voted for Guerra the first time around. Looking at figures from the last election, Salinas said he was short 1,000 votes from the last time he ran. His opponents this time around garnered about the same amount of votes as 2011, which means about 1,000 voters didn’t cast a ballot, Salinas reasoned.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez focused on the fact that 51 percent of the voters cast a ballot against Salinas.

“It feels awesome. I’m a newcomer, remember,” Gutierrez said. “You have to get the trust back for people to trust the government again. That’s what I like about this election is that people can see that their vote does count–51 percent of the people that voted wanted to make a change.”

Gutierrez said it’s a mistake for people to ask for a candidate’s platform, instead, he believes candidates should be asking for residents’ needs. People don’t want to be ignored, he said. And now that his camp knows 51 percent of the people want change, Gutierrez said he’s going to fight to be their voice.

People voted for hope, he said.

Ortega-Ochoa said she looked forward to working with whoever is chosen as mayor and declined to endorse one candidate over another.

Earning a place on the council was a lifetime goal for the candidate, who said she’s been taught to give back to the community. She wants to be the connection between the community and the city.

It was her second time running against Ramirez, having lost the first round. Ramirez had the full support of Salinas and was featured prominently on several of his campaign signs.

“Never allow people to tell you it can’t be done. In the end, you never know what’s going to happen,” Ortega-Ochoa said.

The new councilwoman wants to put more focus on quality of life issues like keeping the parks beautiful and expanding the boys and girls club activities. Also, she’d like to bring a dog park to Mission.

Throughout the election process, Ortega-Ochoa said the number of people in the community that don’t want to vote surprised her. Many, she said, didn’t even know Saturday was Election Day, including her neighbors who have seen signs in her yard for months.

Of the 32,981 registered voters in Mission, 5,318 voted–that’s about 16 percent.

“It should be an honor to go vote and really get to know the candidates,” Ortega-Ochoa said, adding that her parents taught her not to complain about issues if she doesn’t vote.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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