Voters in Pecos County will be asked in the Tuesday, July 31 Special Election to select a new state senator to fill the District 19 seat left open by the resignation of Carlos Uresti following his felony convictions for fraud and money laundering.
Early voting is underway through Friday, July 27 for the special election the Pecos County Courthouse Annex, 200 S. Nelson St. and in Iraan at 510 S. Farr St.
Eight candidates are vying to serve the remainder of Uresti’s term, which ends in 2021, and include four Democrats (Rep. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio; former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego of Alpine; Poteet attorney Charlie Urbina-Jones; and Uresti’s brother, Tomas Uresti), three Republicans (Pete Flores, who unsuccessfully challenged Carlos Uresti in 2016; Jesse "Jay" Alaniz, the former president of the Harlandale ISD board; and Carlos Antonio Raymond, who in March lost a primary bid for for House District 117 in March) and Libertarian Tony Valdivia, a senior reporting analyst at USAA Bank.
The candidates face a daunting task or trying to gain 50 percent plus one vote to win the office outright in a special election with barely more than a month of campaigning. Absent a single winner, the top two finishers will faceoff to determine the winner.
The sprawling District 19 is the state’s geographically largest, including all or part of 17 counties from Bexar (San Antonio) on the east to Pecos and Brewster on the west. It covers more than 35,000 square miles including 400 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border. The district’s population is about 800,000 people.
Here are profiles of the candidates featuring information gleaned from their web sites and other campaign information. Candidates are listed alphabetically:
• Jesse Alaniz, Republican, San Antonio: Alaniz represented District 7 on the Harlandale ISD Board of Trustees from 2011-15. He was defeated in the general election in the non-partisan race.
We could not find an official online campaign site for Alaniz.
• Peter Flores, Republican, Atascosa County: Flores challenged Carlos Uresti for the District 19 Senate seat in the 2016 general election, losing by a 56 percent to 41 percent margin.
A graduate of Laredo Junior College and Texas A&M, he served as a game warden for 27 years. His tenure included heading the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s law enforcement division.
Flores’ Facebook page is: facebook.com/PeteFlores2016/ and web site is: www.peteflores2016.com
• Pete Gallego, Democrat, Alpine: Gallego is a former four-term Democratic member of the U.S. House. He represented Texas' 23rd Congressional District from 2013 to 2015. Gallego lost his re-election bid in 2014. He was defeated by Will Hurd (R) in the general election on November 4, 2014. Gallego lost a rematch with Hurd for the 23rd District seat in 2016.
He graduated from Sul Ross State University and went on to get a law degree from the University of Texas.
Gallego's campaign website is http://petegallego.com/priorities
• Roland Gutierrez, Democrat, San Antonio: Gutierrez is a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 119. Gutierrez was first elected to the chamber in 2008. Gutierrez is running for re-election in 2018. The primary election took place on March 6, 2018. The general election is being held on November 6, 2018.
Prior to his election, he served on the San Antonio City Council from 2005-2008.
Gutierrez is an attorney who earned his J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law, and B.A. in political science from the University of Texas, San Antonio. He is a Parishioner with Mission San José.
Gutierrez’ campaign Facebook page is: facebook.com/RolandForTexas/
• Charles Urbina-Jones, Democrat, Poteet: Jones is an attorney, Vietnam War Veteran and Democratic Party activist.
Jones graduated with a degree in Geology from St. Mary’s University and earned his Juris Doctor degree at Texas Southern University. He has practiced law in San Antonio for over 30 years. He served as a Captain with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.
Jones served for many years on the State Executive Steering Committee of the Democratic Party, and also served as President of the Texas Democratic Veterans Association and is a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Jones’ campaign web site is: facebook.com/CharlieUrbinaJonesForTXSenate19/
• Carlos Antonio Raymond, Republican, San Antonio: Raymond is a realtor. He was unsuccessful in his bid to represent the party in the District 117 House race, losing to Michael Berlanga by a 72-28 percent margin
He is a U.S. Army veteran. He earned an associate’s degree from the University of the District of Columbia and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgia State University.
His Facebook page is: facebook.com/carlos.raymond.716
• Tomas Uresti, Democrat, San Antonio: Uresti is seeking the senate seat vacated by his brother, Carlos. He is a member of the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 118. That term will end at the end of the year as he suffered an upset loss in the March Democratic primary to Leo Pacheco.
Uresti previously served as a member of the Harlandale Board of Trustees in Texas. He is also a legal assistant as the law office of his brother.
Uresti’s Twitter feed is @tomasuresti
• Tony Valdivia, Libertarian, San Antonio: Valdivia is a senior reporting analysis with USAA Bank and real estate entrepreneur. He also serves as the District 8 representative on the City of San Antonio’s Neighborhood Improvements Advisory Board. He previously served as a projects coordinator on the same board, as well as treasurer of the MOVE Texas Civic Education Foundation.
He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Houston.
Valdivia’s campaign web site is: www.votetonyv.com