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Split-ticket voting leaves each slate with one seat in La Joya City Council election

A small but significant number of voters split their tickets during the La Joya City Council election on Tuesday, leaving each side with a win and a loss.

Juarez-Lincoln High School baseball Coach Esequiel “Chuck” Garza of “The New La Joya” won the race for Place 1, according to preliminary results published by the Hidalgo County Elections Department on Tuesday night. Former City Councilwoman Angie Garza of “We Are La Joya” won the race for Place 2.

“People decided,” said Mayor Isidro Casanova, who supported the “We Are La Joya” candidates. “And we’ve got to respect what the people decided.”

The split puzzled campaign workers for both “The New La Joya” and “We Are La Joya,” who struggled to make sense of the results.

Chuck Garza received 756 votes, according to the preliminary results. His opponent, former Municipal Judge Enrique “Henry” Cantu of “We Are La Joya,” received 722.

“I’m ready to be the voice for the people, to work for the people,” Chuck Garza said. “And I want to thank Edwin for everything he did with me and being a great partner in this election.”

Angie Garza received 769 votes, according to the preliminary results. Her opponent, businessman Edwin Eloy Garza of “The New La Joya,” received 712.

“I want to thank all my constituents that voted for me,” Angie Garza said, adding that she wants to represent everyone, regardless of who they supported during the election.

The candidates started campaigning in July, when City Councilwoman Mary Salinas and City Councilman Rey Acosta decided not to run for re-election.

We Are La Joya

Former City Councilwoman Angie Garza, 73, campaigned with former Municipal Judge Enrique “Henry” Cantu, 56, the director of quality and compliance at Mission Regional Medical Center.

They called themselves “We Are La Joya” and touted decades of experience in local government.

Angie Garza, who served on the City Council from the mid-1980s to 2011, decided to run after a series of corruption scandals rocked City Hall.

“We need to know what’s going on,” Angie Garza said. “We want accountability.”

They were supported by Casanova, City Councilwoman Laura Mendiola Macias and La Joya school board Trustee Alex Cantu, among other elected officials.

Henry Cantu ran against Chuck Garza, a popular coach from a well-known family. He lost by just 34 votes.

“He’s a good man,” Angie Garza said. “Enrique will run again.”

The “We Are La Joya” candidates reported $19,650 in donations from July to October, according to campaign finance reports filed with the city.

Major donors included City Attorney Roberto Jackson, who contributed $5,000; the political action committee affiliated with Houston-based S&B Engineers and Constructors, which contributed $5,000; and Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott, a law firm that collects delinquent taxes, which contributed $2,000.

Other supporters included McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos, who contributed $1,000, and former La Joya school district Superintendent Filomena Leo, who contributed $100.

The New La Joya

Esequiel “Chuck” Garza, 33, the baseball coach at Juarez-Lincoln High School, campaigned with Edwin Eloy Zuniga, 40, a local businessman.

They called themselves “The New La Joya” and offered voters a clean break with the past.

“It showed a lot, as far as being our first time,” Zuniga said, adding that he wanted to thank God, his family and everyone who supported his campaign. “Maybe we can go again.”

They were supported by City Councilman Roger Hernandez, La Joya school board President Oscar “Coach” Salinas and La Joya school board Trustee Armin Garza, among other elected officials.

“The New La Joya” candidates reported $40,600 in donations from July to October — more than double the amount collected by “We Are La Joya,” according to campaign finance reports filed with the city.

Major donors included Constance Salinas, the owner of Alto Bonito Trailer Park, who contributed $10,200; Esmeralda Flores, the owner of La Quinta Esmeralda, who donated $8,000; and Fausto Salinas Jr., who donated $6,000.

Other supporters included La Joya Economic Development Corp. attorney Jose L. Caso, who donated $5,000; state Rep. Oscar Longoria, who donated $1,000; and former Agua Special Utility District General Manager Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz, who donated $1,000.

“First of all, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to be here and run this with Edwin,” Chuck Garza said. “I wouldn’t change anything. We ran a clean race.”

Chuck Garza said he wanted to thank his family, campaign workers and everyone who voted.

“Of course, the results were not what we wanted,” Chuck Garza said. “But I’m grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to move forward with the city.”

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