Waelder voters re-elect Tovar to mayoral post

Benavidez defeats Mills in Smiley rematch


Mayoral elections in Waelder and Smiley on Saturday, May 4 saw incumbents Roy Tovar and Lisa Benavidez re-elected in complete but unofficial returns.

New council members also were elected in both Nixon and Waelder as well as a new Waelder ISD trustee, while Smiley voters returned two incumbents to office in their council election.

Waelder City Council

Tovar may be facing an upcoming October preliminary hearing and a possible trial for a felony charge of deadly conduct, but it apparently did not discourage Waelder voters from re-electing him to another term as mayor.

The incumbent received 40 votes in early and absentee voting and another 37 on election day to defeat City Councilmember Curtis Hadnot, 77-46. Hadnot had 23 votes each during early and absentee voting and on election day.

Tovar was arrested by Waelder police on July 1, 2023, and charged with discharging a firearm, a third-degree felony punishable, if convicted, by a sentence of two to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice — Institutional Division and up to a $10,000 fine.

An individual is considered to be not guilty in the eyes of the Texas legal system until he or she has been proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt.

There were two seats up for grabs on the Waelder City Council. Incumbent Peggy Blackmon was the highest vote-getter and won re-election with 74 total votes, while Mike Harris won the second spot that had been vacant with a total of 65 votes. Other candidates in the field included Connie Blackwell (38 votes), Margie Olmos Benitez (19 votes), Sandra Dickerson (17 votes) and Eric Mahler (seven votes).

Smiley City Council

Benavidez was elected to her first term as Smiley mayor by defeating incumbent Michael Mills in 2022 and faced him in a rematch on Saturday’s ballot. Benavidez’s early vote lead of 62-11 held up against a rally by Mills on election day and she won, 95-60.

In the race for two at-large alderman seats, incumbents Melva Robinson Childress and Ellis Villasana also jumped out to big leads in early and absentee voting over Michaela Mills and Elisa Douglas. Mills was able to get the most votes on election day, but not enough to overtake the incumbents. Childress led all voters with 90 votes, while Villasana had 80, Mills had 58 and Douglas had 55.

Nixon City Council

Ellie Dominguez was running unopposed for mayor of Nixon to succeed Dorothy Riojas, who did not seek re-election. But there were three candidates running for the two seats available on the Nixon City Council, guaranteeing there would be two new faces on the dais at the May meeting.

Jack Rogers was the leading vote-getter with 63 votes, including 43 during early and absentee votign, while Shannon Smith (55) edged out Jessica Smith (53) for the other seat. Shannon Smith received six more votes than Jessica Smith on election day to erase a four-vote deficit after early and absentee voting.

Waelder ISD

The closest race may have been for the third of three available spots on the Waelder ISD Board of Trustees. Incumbents JoAnn Ibarra (102 votes) and Adolph Gonzales (101) led all vote-getters and were re-elected to their seats. However, the final seat came down to a photo-finish between three candidates — Donald Kincaid (77 votes), Donna Brown (75 votes) and Danna Kincaid (73 votes).

The seven absentee ballots Donald Kincaid earned boosted him to the victory over Brown (three) and Danna Kincaid (four).