Christopher Maher

Alice Echo-News Journal

District Judge Nelva Gonzales-Ramos ordered Monday a new election must be held in the Jim Wells County Commissioner Precinct 3 race and the Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 race, finding there was enough evidence to overturn the results of the March 4 Primary.

In the Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 race, Guadalupe Martinez defeated Juan Rodriguez Jr. by nine votes, and Rodriguez later contested the election, alleging fraud.

Testimony in the justice of the peace election contest centered on mail-in ballots that attorneys for Rodriguez argued were submitted illegally.

On Monday, Rodriguez said the judge’s ruling supported those allegations.

“I’m elated for the residents and the voters of Jim Wells County,” Rodriguez said. “I hope that in the future the voters of Jim Wells County continue to keep the faith and believe in our democratic process,” Rodriguez said. “This ruling goes to show that there were clearly some discrepancies and irregularities that we proved, and I hope that future elections, including this new election that’s going to be called, run smoothly.”

Calls to Guadalupe Martinez were not returned Monday or this morning.

In the County Commissioner Precinct 3 race, J.C. Perez III defeated incumbent Oswald Alanis by two votes, but Alanis contested the election, alleging several voters were prevented from voting for him.

Testimony in the commissioner’s race contest centered on several individuals who claim they were denied their right to vote for Alanis when they were placed in a different precinct without their knowledge.

On Monday, Alanis said he was pleased with the judge’s ruling.

“It could have gone both ways, because (Perez) would have done the same thing I did,” Alanis said. “I’m glad to put it back in the hands of the voters again.

“Now it’s going to be up to who wants it most.”

Perez said he disagreed with the judge’s decision, but was confident he could win a second election.

“I think there was no error, but she made a decision and we have to act on it. I just hate to put the voters in this type of predicament. It just sends a different message out there,” Perez said. “I know I still have my supporters, and I think I’ve gained more supporters and will do just fine the second time around.”

Perez said he has not made a decision yet on whether to file an appeal in the case.

Officials with Judge Gonzales-Ramos’ office declined to identify the reasons behind the judge’s rulings Monday, but written rulings in both cases are expected to be issued later this week.