Peter Sakai beats Trish DeBerry in race for Bexar County judge

Sakai will be the first new person to hold the county's top elected office since Democrat Nelson Wolff was first appointed in 2001.

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click to enlarge Peter Sakai gives a victory speech after his opponent conceded in the race for Bexar County judge. - Sanford Nowlin
Sanford Nowlin
Peter Sakai gives a victory speech after his opponent conceded in the race for Bexar County judge.
Democrat Peter Sakai won the race for Bexar County judge after opponent Trish DeBerry conceded shortly before 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

DeBerry, a veteran public relations executive and GOP political operative, threw in the towel as data from the county elections office showed her share of the vote at 38.13%, compared to Sakai's 59.15%.

The victory will make Sakai the first new person to hold the county's top elected office since Democrat Nelson Wolff was first appointed in 2001. Sakai — a longtime district judge — will overseeing a Commissioners Court that controls  Bexar County's $2.8 billion budget at time of breakneck expansion.

"So, what does this victory mean? It means doing things the right way does indeed count and still means something in today's world," Sakai told supporters at a Northwest San Antonio watch party. "It means that a truthful message to voters can result in victory. It means that staying positive and avoiding the negativity can extinguish the anger and fear in our community. We must move forward with hope and optimism."

Sakai also heralded the win as the first time an Asian American has held the position. Further, he noted that both he and Mayor Ron Nirenberg identify as Asian American, perhaps marking another first among major cities.

Sakai tried to run a positive campaign, even as dark money ads aired against DeBerry and she accused him of conspiring with their funders. As the days ticked down to the election, she also launched attack ads of her own, accusing Sakai of making a ruling while on the bench that led to a child's death.

click to enlarge Trish DeBerry concedes the race for Bexar County Judge to Peter Sakai at her watch party at around 8:30 p.m. - Michael Karlis
Michael Karlis
Trish DeBerry concedes the race for Bexar County Judge to Peter Sakai at her watch party at around 8:30 p.m.
At DeBerry's watch party, the Republican candidate thanked her supporters and emphasized the previous work she's done for victims of domestic violence.

DeBerry's accusations over the dark money ads weren't the only controversy she faced. In the waning weeks of the campaign, she accused a veteran Express-News reporter of sexism and bias over a profile  the paper planned to run, and she took heat from Asian American and Pacific Islander groups for repeatedly calling Sakai "Dr. No" during a candidate forum.

DeBerry told reporters after her concession speech that she believes sexism and a hostile media played a role in her defeat.

"I think we as women in this community, and across the United States, have a lot of work to do when it comes to how we're treated," DeBerry said.

DeBerry wished Sakai well in his tenure as Bexar County judge. She also said that Bexar County "hasn't seen the last of Trish DeBerry," hinting at future runs for office.

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