By Gaige Davila
Early voting begins on Tuesday, Oct. 13, with several races across the area, state and country, through Oct. 30.
Early voting has moved from Port Isabel City Hall to the Port Isabel Event and Cultural Center, at 309 Railroad St in Port Isabel, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, the center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
South Padre Island City Hall, at 4601 Padre Blvd, and Laguna Vista City Hall, at 122 Fernandez St., are also open for any Cameron County resident voting early. Laguna Vista City Hall’s hours are the same at Port Isabel Event and Cultural Center.
South Padre Island City Hall is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 13 to Oct. 16. From Oct .19 to Oct. 21 and Oct. 26 to Oct. 28, the site is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Oct. 22 and Oct. 29, the site is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, the site is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. On the weekends, the city hall is open from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m.
In Port Isabel, the postponed general election for mayor and city commissioner places 1 and 2, initially scheduled for May 2, is being held on Nov. 3.
Baldemar Alaniz, who served a term as Port Isabel’s mayor in the 1980s, was Public Works Director for Port Isabel before retiring in 2017, and is the lone challenger against Juan Jose “JJ” Zamora for mayor. Zamora has been mayor since 2017.
Martin Cantu Jr., City Commissioner Place 1, and Carmen Rios, City Commissioner Place 2, are running for their seats unopposed.
On South Padre Island, Mayor Patrick McNulty is running for a second term, challenged by Brandy Buntin, owner of Lobo Del Mar Cafe, who has previously run for the city’s Place 2 council member seat in 2018 and the Place 1 council seat in 2019. Buntin lost both elections.
Alita Bagley, who is running again for her Place 4 seat on South Padre Island’s city council, has two challengers: Thomas Bainter, the president and treasurer of the non-profit Costa Cleanups who ran for the city’s Place 5 council seat in 2018; and Lydia Caballero, who was on the city’s Parks & Keep SPI Beautiful committee.
Laguna Vista’s postponed May election is on November’s ballot, too. Nadine Smith is running unopposed for mayor, as is Mike Carter for the council’s Place 1 seat, Bettina Ridolfi Tolin for the Place 3 seat and Bubba Vann for Place 6. Incumbent Johvonne Hernandez-Howard is being challenged by Richard Hinojosa.
The Laguna Madre Water District (LMWD) has three board places up for election: Scott Friedman is running unopposed for Place 2; Incumbent Herb Houston Jr. and William “Bill” Donahue are running for Place 3; and for the Place 4 seat, Greg Ruiz and Dave Boughter are challenging incumbent Alex Avalos.
Also from the LMWD is a proposed bond election for a $27,620,000 bond for water projects.
For Cameron County Constable Place 1, Norman Esquivel Jr., a Point Isabel ISD police officer liaison, and Daniel Holland, a Port Isabel Police Department officer, are running.
Locally, there are two state races: Alex Domiguez is running unopposed for the Texas House District 37 seat; and Eddie Lucio Jr., longtime Democrat incumbent of the Texas Senate (District 27), is being challenged by Vanessa Tijerina, who has made local headlines after being arrested several times in the past year, one of which she livestreamed on Facebook.
Filemon Vela, U.S. Representative D-37, is running again for the congressional House seat, challenged by Rey Gonzalez, Anthony Cristo and Chris B. Royal.