Salinas, who has been in office since 1998, received 2,668 of 4,661 votes, according to unofficial totals released by Hidalgo County on Saturday. Challenger Jaime Gutierrez, received 1,993.
“Today they lost by a lot of votes,” Salinas said. “Everybody knows that the only votes they got was because they were spending a lot of money; they were giving a lot of money away. That’s one problem they have tonight … we have the job.”
Still, Gutierrez on Tuesday said he was proud of the campaign he ran and that he and his supporters kept things clean, adding, “We need to take politics to a higher level.”
Gutierrez has said when he moved to the city about 12 years ago, he saw two Missions: the south side and north side. Some sections of the city seem forgotten, he said, and that’s why he ran.
Blasted by Salinas throughout the campaign as a newcomer who didn’t know anything about city government, Gutierrez said he plans to run for an office again, though he’s not sure what he’ll run for next.
“Honest to God, I loved it, being able to meet so many people,” Gutierrez said. “I think we got the people’s hearts. It’s always a learning experience.”
In May, Salinas just missed avoiding the runoff with 49 percent of the votes. Collectively, Gutierrez and third candidate John Guerra received 2,698 votes to Salinas’ 2,590. Gutierrez had 31 percent, or 1,640 of the votes.
Soon after the May election, Guerra endorsed Salinas.
In celebration Saturday, Salinas said he was aware Gutierrez poured a lot of money into the campaign. He knows that, the mayor said, because people in Gutierrez’s camp were working for Salinas.
“That’s the only way we can beat people like that that come into our city and they want to take it over, and they don’t even have a working plan for our community, and they just want to come in and buy this town out,” Salinas said, later adding, “They will never be mayors in the city of Mission as long as I’m here.”
Mission has been one of the few communities in South Texas to get federal and state money for improvements over the last few years, Salinas said, taking offense to criticism that the city is not progressing.
Salinas said Saturday in front of hundreds of supporters he plans to increase public safety, improve public works and bring more state and federal money to the area.
Included in the group were Mission Deputy City Manager Aida Rivas and City Secretary Anna Carrillo. Peñitas Mayor Marcos Ochoa, who helped with the barbecue, said Mission has been a good neighbor and Salinas is a big part of that with the support of the city staff and council.
“I’m just a volunteer like everyone else,” Salinas said, thanking the group. “I am just one of your volunteers that has a four-year term.
“We’re going to be doing what’s best for our community and our kids. We’re going to be welcoming new people to come and live. We’re going have a new housing project. We’re going to have a lot of things happening over the next four years.”