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Early Voting Results: del Barrio may win Palmhurst mayoral race without a runoff

Businessman Fred del Barrio may win the Palmhurst mayoral race without a runoff, according to preliminary results published by the Hidalgo County Elections Department on Wednesday.

del Barrio won nearly 57% of 475 ballots cast by mail and during the 11-day early voting period, according to the preliminary results.

He defeated former City Councilman Israel Silva, who received 29%; attorney Ricka Tijerina, who received 12%; and former Sharyland school board Trustee Eduardo “Eddie” Montalvo, who received nearly 2%.

Wednesday marked the second mayoral election in Palmhurst during the past three months.

Mayor Ramiro J. Rodriguez Jr., who had served Palmhurst for more than two decades, died suddenly in April — after ballots for the May election had already been printed.

Voters re-elected him anyway.

Some cast ballots for Rodriguez to honor the longtime mayor. Others voted for him because they didn’t want his opponent, Silva, to win by default.

Palmhurst scheduled a special election for Aug. 10. Four candidates filed to replace Rodriguez:

> Businessman Alfredo “Fred” del Barrio Jr., 56, who owns a dozen McDonald’s restaurants.

> Attorney Ricka Nicolette Martin-Tijerina, 27, who graduated from the University of Houston and works for Hinojosa Law.

> Former City Councilman Israel Silva, 51, the owner of Texas Health Care Imaging.

> Former Sharyland school board Trustee Eduardo “Eddie” Montalvo, 58, a business analyst with UnitedHealth Group.

Several members of the City Council backed del Barrio, who served on the Palmhurst Planning and Zoning Commission.

del Barrio promised that Palmhurst, which doesn’t collect a property tax, would remain tax-free. He also pledged that Palmhurst would keep the minimum lot size at 1 acre for residential development and restrict businesses to commercial areas.

Tijerina pushed to make City Hall more transparent by streaming City Council meetings online and posting more information on the internet.

How much the candidates spent remains unclear.

At noon Wednesday, del Barrio was the only candidate who had filed campaign finance reports, according to City Secretary Richard Garcia.

del Barrio loaned himself $70,000, according to his campaign finance reports, and received another $11,600 from supporters.

Major donations included nearly $2,400 from Ezra Bekhor of Las Vegas, Nevada; $1,500 from Victor and Ileana Vicinaiz of Palmhurst; and $1,000 from Carlos and Cynthia Garza of Palmhurst.

del Barrio paid more than $50,000 to political consultant Selina Medrano for wages and expenses, according to his campaign finance reports.

The election results will remain unofficial until canvassed by the City Council.

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