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Voters Head To The Polls In A Special Election That May End In A Runoff

There are only 31 state Senate seats in Texas, and one in the Houston area is up for grabs on Saturday. Voters will cast ballots in a special election to fill the seat of state Senator Mario Gallegos, who died last year. KUHF’s Pat Hernandez talked to the three leading candidates in the race to become the next state Senator, District 6.


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Mario Gallegos represented Houston’s Senate District 6 for almost 20 years and was re-elected posthumously with 71 percent of the vote. Governor Rick Perry wasted little time in calling for a special election.

Since then, candidates have been busy trying to woo voters.

Former City Councilmember and Democratic Houston state Representative Carol Alvarado is one of two frontrunners, and was hand picked by Gallegos and his family to succeed him.

“What most people agree on, whether they like me or dislike me is that they know that I’ve been visible and active in the community, on a regular basis, not just coming around during election time, but having a true track record of showing up. The only place where people are saying, ‘Well, this is the first time we’ve seen you here.’ — It’s places I’ve never represented.”

She says her experience in Austin as a state representative gives her the edge over the other leading candidate, Sylvia Garcia. But she too has an impressive portfolio, including stints as a councilmember, city controller and Harris County commissioner:

“We’ve been working real hard all these last six weeks, we knew it was a short campaign but we knew also that it was gonna be a ground campaign. It really is about getting people out to vote. So yes, we’ve had a very aggressive, door knocking, phone calling and mail program, to remind voters about what really matters in Senate, District 6.”

Garcia and Alvarado are two of the five Democrats, and even though the district is majority Hispanic, R.W. Bray, who lost to Gallegos in November, is one of three Republicans in the race. He says he brings a fresh perspective to the needs of the constituents in District 6.

“Carol Alvarado is a representative that is going to tell the people exactly what they want to hear, and she’s gonna do that to garner votes. And I don’t blame her, she’s a politician. Sylvia Garcia, here’s an individual that has worked tirelessly within the community. So you have two individuals, who have seen the high unemployment rate in their district. Education’s failing, in their district. Medical failing, in their district, and they’ve been for years and they say, ‘it’s time for change.’ Hold on, you’ve already been there. You just have not been doing anything.”

Bray says he hopes voters will see the difference between classic politicians and new politicians, like him:

“And it’s perfect timing for conservatives, it’s perfect timing for Republicans, and it’s time we re-define what the Republican Party really is about. The Republican Party has been deemed as a a racist party, let’s face it, but they have true conservative values that actually relate to all people.”

Alvarado, Garcia and Bray are the frontrunners, but there are five other candidates, and a runoff is likely. Early voting ended last week, but polls will be open Saturday morning at 7 am.