Secretary of State: Palmview mayor not properly elected, creates vacancy
Palmview Mayor Ricardo “Rick” Villarreal, who was sworn into office last week, was not elected properly, according to a spokesman from the Texas Secretary of State’s office, creating a vacancy in the office of mayor.
Since Villarreal, an assistant superintendent at the La Joya school district, was the only mayoral candidate during the elections held earlier this month, his name appeared in a section of the ballot of unopposed candidates declared elected.
However, Sam Taylor, director of communications at the secretary of state’s office, said this was improper because, in order to be elected, Villarreal needed to have received at least one vote.
The only exception is if every candidate for the council had run unopposed, Taylor said, citing Sec. 2.051 of the Texas Election Code. There were, however, two contested Palmview City Council races and therefore voters should have also been able to vote in the mayor’s race.
The error essentially leaves a vacancy in the mayor’s race, meaning the city will likely have to hold another election.
Interim City Manager Leo Olivares said the city’s legal counsel is in contact with the secretary of state’s office as well as Texas Municipal League to determine their next steps.
“We want obviously the right thing to be done,” he said. “So that’s where we’re trying to decipher all the issues and try to figure out what is the right thing to do.”
Some of the questions they’re trying to clarify is whether there’s a holdover provision requiring former Mayor Gerardo “Jerry” Perez to continue serving office.
“Those are the questions that are being looked at in addition to what happened but where are we and how do we move forward,” Olivares said.
Villarreal could not be immediately reached for comment.