DON'T THINK, JUST VOTE 

Dismal percentage of registered voters hit the polls last Saturday

If you didn't vote Saturday, don't worry. You were among the silent majority of 702,387 registered voters in San Antonio who boycotted the polls. Your excuse could be valid. Some favorites among Current staffers were, "It's an exercise in futility," (a cop out), or Rodney Dangerfield style comeback, "Saturday? Who votes on Saturday?" or the lame "We had elections?" Some of us had legitimate reasons for not voting in San Antonio, such as a voter registration card that shows residency in Schertz, or Arizona. One person just plain "forgot." Another was busy showing friends from Florida around the River Walk. Bravo, we need those tourist dollars. One employee found love at the polling place: "I was distracted by a cute Republican pollster outside the church." Never mind that the city's municipal election is supposed to be non-partisan. And one smart ass said he "couldn't find PGA Village on the ballot." See the box for a list of winning Top 10 excuses for not voting.

Only 41,116 registered voters in San Antonio cast their ballots last Saturday - roughly half the amount of qualified signatures on the PGA Village petition. But the ones who punched those chads sure made a mess of things, because now everyone has to return in May 27 to decide six runoff races out of an 11-seat election.

Speaking of excuses, the San Antonio Spurs were slated to play the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of a playoff series in 2001. The Spurs won, 94-78, and went on to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers ... well, you know all that. At least we had almost 15 percent voter turnout in 2001, when five incumbents were reelected, and Districts 2, 3, and 4 were in runoffs.

Mayor Ed Garza was re-elected to a second term with a 68 percent win over Shirley Thompson, who came in with more than 25 percent. The ubiquitous but not easily located Michael Idrogo, who jokes about cutting the hands off graffiti artists, garnered just over 6 percent. Both underdogs fared better than they did in the 2001 race when Garza won by 59 percent against a larger field of candidates, to become the second Latino mayor in modern history.

This time around, the experts say voters were disgusted with the lobbyist-mayor-council form of government, and voted for change in some parts of the city.

Roger Flores Jr. and Rene Balderas will face off for the next three weeks for the District 1 championship belt. They survived a free-for-all of eight contestants for the council seat. Flores was on top of the heap with 39.78 percent, and Balderas trailed with 17.64 percent. Lobbyist and Las Vegas favorite Thomas R. Aguillon was out of the competition with 16.36 percent of the vote. The tally for Aguillon and other Flores-Balderas opponents was 2,427. That's potentially the number the runoff candidates could wrestle over, if the same people go to the polls in three weeks - not likely. Voter numbers drop in runoff races. Hell, they dropped in the regular race.

Joel Williams suprised candidate John H. Sanders in District 2, with a score of 1,475 to 1,078. Sandra Martinez's bid to change the history of District 2 by getting elected as a Latina candidate fell short with 19.19 percent.

In District 3, lobbyist favorite Toni Moorhouse had 35.72 percent, and will run against Ron Segovia, who had more than 32 percent in a field of five candidates.

Enrique "Kike" Martin had done enough damage in District 4, and he declined to seek re-election, choosing instead to stand trial in June for federal bribery charges along with District 2's Sanders. John Clinton Freeman, David Fernandez, Philip "Phil" Cortez, Joe Montoya and Richerd Perez slugged it out on the city's Southwest side. Cortez and Perez both reached the 30 percent ranges, and will meet again in three weeks.

Patti Radle, "La Güera de West Side," percolated to the top of a heap of seven candidates for District 5. She will face Tom Lopez, an experienced politician, in the runoff. Radle took 48.82 percent to Lopez's 37.89 percent.

Enrique Barrera easily won a second term in District 6 against newcomer Brad Clear, with more than twice the number of votes.

Julián Castro surprised nobody. With no opposition, it's easy to take 100 percent of the vote, and Castro will resume his District 7 seat - and can save his campaign war chest for a run at the mayor's crown in 2005.

Eight candidates fought for term-limited incumbent Bonnie Conner's seat in District 8. Art A. Hall will face Bert Cecconi, who garnered 50 more votes than Hall on Saturday. The question is who will take over the other candidates' supporters?

Carroll Schubert collected a fortune in advance of the election. Some say he is raising money for the bigger fish, the mayor's slot, in 2005. He won in District 9 with 77.5 percent of the vote.

District 10 newcomer Chip Haass edged out John Clamp, who was anointed by David Carpenter, by a 2,843 to 2,431 score. Haass had moved into the 53.9 percent range, sending him to the winner's circle instead of former Zoning Commission member Clamp.

That's it, folks, you have another chance to vote on May 27 if you missed the boat Saturday. Or, if you plan to sit this race out, they are catching redfish and sea trout at the coast, and the bass are biting at Choke Canyon Reservoir. •

TOP 10 EXCUSES FOR NOT VOTING

The Current polled a captive audience - its employees - to rank the following 10 reasons for not voting in the Saturday, May 3 city election. If you don't like any of these, e-mail your excuse to mcary@sacurrent.com.

10. Floated the river with my fellow frat rats.
9. Went to the coast, freezer's full of red snapper.
8. My double-wide is parked in the county.
7. I was jammin' in Austin.
6. I bet the gas money on Empire Rules in the Kentucky Derby.
5. I got drunk at the Cinco de Mayo celebration at Market Square.
4. Was too busy chuggin' Shiner longnecks with John Ashcroft at Gruene Hall.
3. I voted twice in Boerne.
2. I'm dead and I voted in Duval County.

And the No. 1 reason I didn't vote in the Saturday election is:

1. I was standing in line at the local theater for the matinee showing of "X2: X-Men United. It's an awesome flick."


More by Michael Cary

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