Early voters won the election for incumbent Roberto Zárate in the race for District 5 trustee Saturday, and opponent Ramiro Nava’s campaigning on election day couldn’t overcome an 186-vote lead.
In the 1,452-1,261 victory for Zárate, the incumbent attracted 809 votes from early voters compared to 606 for Nava during that period. On Saturday, however, Nava got 655 compared to 643 for Zárate.
“I feel good. I mean, the bottom line is we ran a good, solid, positive campaign,” Nava said after the results were released. “I think Mr. Zárate underestimated what it is that we can muscle up, the support that is really out there for change.”
Nava, principal of Neil Armstrong Elementary School, stressed that early voting results affected the election outcome.
“The bottom line is that the early vote is what dictated the status of the election,” he said. “But truth be known, we are all young, ambitious, working individuals, and we cannot cover those early voting sites because we’re busy teaching kids.”
“I think I would have done everything the same way. I mean, I think we ran a good, solid, positive campaign … we’d probably focus maybe a little more on the early vote, because that really was the game changer,” Nava said.
Nava said he and his volunteers began posting signs on polling locations Friday night and continued until about 3:45 a.m. Saturday.
He traveled to George Lewis Elementary, 1000 Seascape, before polls closed at 7 p.m. to speak with constituents.
If Nava is able to come out to talk to people, he must be worth it, Donnelle Hagan, quality service representative at Southwest Banking Corp., said at the polling location.
Another voter, contract specialist Blanca Ruiz predicted, “To me, everything is positive, and I truly believe that he’ll come through.”
Nava, who will begin a doctoral program in educational leadership in the fall at University of Texas at San Antonio, served on the Edgewood Independent School District board of trustees as a regular member from 2000-2002 and as board president from 2002-2008.
“In serving as a trustee with Edgewood, during those eight years, I realized that, you know, if you have a good set of people that are all focused on a single vision, you can get things done,” he said.
Librarian Celita DeArmond, president of the San Antonio College chapter of the American Association of University Professors, met with Nava at the polling site.
“Even if Ramiro doesn’t win today, it does show that, you know, people are watching and people are interested,” she said.
Once polls closed at 7 p.m., Nava, volunteers and family members gathered at Nava’s father’s home.
George Garnica, treasurer for Nava’s campaign, watched results for the election throughout the evening.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said when all of the votes were counted.
Garnica said, “We’re not the typical political figures who are in their 50s and 60s; we’re in our 30s. So we’re before our time.”
Volunteer Venus Medina, principal at Wilson Elementary School, said, “People need to realize there are people out there who need to make a difference.”
DeArmond said, “I just had a feeling we were going to pull it out. That would’ve been awesome.”
The college’s chapter of AAUP endorsed Nava after he spoke to the organization March 29, and the chapter donated $349 to Nava’s campaign.
DeArmond said that despite the outcome of the election, “people are getting involved.”
“We will get candidates to run against board members, and we will continue to show up, and care, and listen, and voice our concern,” she said.
Nava reiterated he ran a solid and positive campaign.
“This was an opportunity that I had, and I took it. And if the door opens up again, I’ll take it again,” Nava said. “But I believe Mr. Zárate understands now that the community is paying attention, students are paying attention, and the city is paying attention to the actions of the Alamo Community Colleges.”
To view the election results, visit the Bexar County Elections Department website at bexar.org/EL45A.HTM.