Former City Councilwoman Norie Gonzalez Garza will become the next mayor of Mission.
Gonzalez Garza defeated Mayor Armando “Doc” O’caña during a runoff election on Saturday, according to preliminary results published by the Hidalgo County Elections Department.
Nearly 56% percent of about 7,000 people who cast ballots supported Gonzalez Garza. O’cana won about 44%.
“I’m very, very pleased. I’m very thankful. I really thought it was going to be a little tighter,” Gonzalez Garza said. “But I’m so thankful the results are how they came in. And that just basically enforces the thought that the city was ready to go a different direction.”
O’caña said he encountered nothing but support on the campaign trail.
“I’m just going to leave it up to God to see what he has for me for the next four years,” O’caña said.
All results will remain unofficial until canvassed by the City Council.
The mayoral campaign kicked off in January, when O’caña started running for re-election.
O’caña, a retired La Joya Independent School District administrator, had spent the past four years attempting to shake up City Hall.
He encouraged Mission to think regionally. He revived the Madero bridge project. And he created new boards and committees to bring more people into the decision-making process.
Sometimes, though, other members of the City Council became concerned O’caña made commitments without consulting them. A purported deal to provide Mazatlan with COVID-19 vaccines prompted the City Council to create a system for reviewing and approving official communication.
O’caña also supported a controversial $17 million contract with Performance Services Inc. to replace old water meters and install LED lights. Mission approved the contract in January 2021.
Less than a year later, documents filed in federal court revealed the contract was part of a pay-to-play scheme that involved more than a dozen public officials from western Hidalgo County.
One document identified O’caña as “Person J.” He denied any wrongdoing.
The controversy, however, convinced several people to run against him.
Gonzalez Garza, a widely respected local businesswoman who had served on the City Council for 15 years, announced her candidacy on Jan. 21.
“We knocked on doors. We did a lot of blockwalking. And what we heard — and what I heard — was the residents felt they’d been put aside or forgotten, basically,” Gonzalez Garza said. “So we need to focus on the needs of our residents today.”
She was joined by former Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas, who lost to O’caña in 2018, and Victor Anzaldua, a 22-year-old college student.
None of the candidates received support from a majority of voters in May.
Nearly 37% supported Gonzalez Garza, according to official results canvassed by the City Council. Another 33% supported O’caña.
Salinas, who experienced health problems during the campaign and spent election night in a local hospital, received support from nearly 28% of voters. The remaining 2% backed Anzaldua.
Without a clear winner, the race headed to a runoff.
Salinas and Anzaldua endorsed Gonzalez Garza. She also received support from City Councilman Ruben Plata, City Councilman Abiel Flores and Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Everardo “Ever” Villarreal.
O’caña, meanwhile, touted endorsements from City Councilman Alberto “Beto” Vela, Norteño legend Ramon Ayala and former Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Flores.
“I want to thank everyone that came out to vote, not just the voters who voted for me but all the voters,” Gonzalez Garza said. “Because that shows initiative and that shows they care for the city.”