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Election brings change in balance of voting power on Victoria City Council

By Melissa Crowe
May 12, 2012 at 12:12 a.m.
Updated May 13, 2012 at 12:13 a.m.

Emett Alvarez

The balance of power on the Victoria City Council was guaranteed to change after Saturday's election.

With four seats open and Councilman Gabriel Soliz leaving to seek a county position, at least one newcomer was guaranteed to join the ranks.

After unofficial election results arrived Saturday evening, two newcomers to Victoria City Council - Emett Alvarez and Josephine Soliz - will take the oath of office Tuesday. However, it's unclear whether both will remain on the council.

The race for District 1 between incumbent councilwoman Denise Rangel and third-time candidate Alvarez ended with a three-vote difference in unofficial results.

Alvarez won the seat with 383 votes to Rangel's 380.

Rangel said she will request a recount after the Tuesday City Council meeting when Alvarez takes office.

"I'm staying optimistic," she said. "I believe I've made the best decisions for the citizens of District 1 and the citizens of Victoria."

Meanwhile, Alvarez said he is ready for the job.

"I've already read through half the agenda packet," he said.

He said since he was 5 years old he has never given up on a challenge, or lost faith that he could not get back up.

However, he acknowledged that the official results could change.

"Anything could happen with a recount," he said. "If I were her (Rangel), I'd call for a recount, too."

In total, 5,162 people voted in the joint election, 10.3 percent of the registered voters.

Elections Administrator George Matthews said 40 ballots from overseas are expected to be added to the count Thursday.

In Soliz's former District 2, his mother, Josephine Soliz, won by 236 votes, or 53 percent, over Gene Rice, who received 213 votes, or 47 percent.

Her son has almost consistently voted against Mayor Will Armstrong on hot issues, including funding the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival and all components of the proposed sewage treatment plant.

During her campaign, she promised to maintain his questioning attitude.

Councilman Paul Polasek will keep his District 3. In unofficial results, Polasek won 763 votes, or 53 percent, to his opponent, John Hyak, who received 673 votes, or 47 percent.

In unofficial results, District 4 Councilman David Hagan won by the largest majority, 729 votes, or 67 percent, over his opponent former city councilman Lewis Neitsch.

Neitsch took 363 votes, or 33 percent.

"I never took anything for granted throughout the evening," Hagan said. "I don't think it was a personality contest. It was a contest of ideas."

He said the votes were "a statement that folks are absolutely tired of higher taxes."

With potential two newcomers on the council, Hagan said he is looking forward to working with Alvarez.

"I think Mr. Alvarez will be a voice of fiscal conservativeness more than his predecessor and I feel like he'll be very receptive to the needs of his district," Hagan said.

Mayor Will Armstrong said the changes to the council will be interesting.

"I'm certain we can continue to grow the Victoria that our children and grandchildren will be proud to be from," Armstrong said.

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