Mayor Susan Narvaiz was returned to a third term Monday after a marathon recount delayed her scheduled swearing in but did not change the final vote tally.
At 7:30 p.m., Hays County elections officials announced that Narvaiz won 6,451 votes, 50.08 percent, to David Newman’s 3,868, 30.03 percent, while Texas State University student Dan McCarthy took 2,563 votes, 19.9 percent. Newman requested the recount last week because of the nine votes that stood between him and the opportunity to take on Narvaiz in a runoff election.
The recount started at 10 a.m. this morning, then stretched through the afternoon into the early evening.
“This is our process and this shows that our process works,” Narvaiz said as she announced her re-election for the third time. “However long it took, I am proud to be a part of this democracy.”
Narvaiz first declared victory on Election Day, Nov. 4, when she held barely more than 50 percent of the vote pending the tabulation of provisional and overseas ballots. On Nov. 10, the counting of five provisional and four overseas ballots in the city election ended with Narvaiz actually extending her lead over Newman by one vote.
On Nov. 14, Newman asked for a recounting, saying he owed it to his supporters. Newman made a $480 deposit to the Hays County elections office to pay for the labor. If the recount had changed the outcome, Newman would have received a refund.
Hays County elections officials were unavailable for comment early Monday evening to discuss why the recount took approximately eight hours. Narvaiz spent part of Monday at the elections office and said she sensed that the recount was taking a lot more work than had been anticipated.
At 5 p.m., as planned, Councilmember Chris Jones was sworn to a second term and former planning and zoning chair Fred Terry to his first. But the council recessed the meeting to await the mayoral recount’s outcome, affording rare suspense to a ceremony typically that is usually little more than formality. In this case, however, a reception for those being sworn in and outgoing Councilmember Daniel Guerrero accompanied the suspense.
At about 7:20 p.m., Narvaiz told The Mercury that she had been notified over the phone that she had won re-election. A few minutes later, San Marcos City Clerk Sherri Mashburn and Gloria Salazar, a recount witness for Narvaiz, arrived with the official results.
Narvaiz, who said she never had any doubt the recount would come up in her favor, told the city council before she took her third oath that she will reach out to Newman and McCarthy and ask them the assume roles in city government. Later, Narvaiz said she’s likely to call them and ask if they would serve on city boards, commissions or other task forces that she’s planning.
The mayor added that she is undaunted by the slim margin of her electoral victory.
“It’s very common to get in a run-off when you get in a race with three people,” Narvaiz said. “… I had people say to me, ‘Are you so sure you’re glad you moved the elections to (from May) November?’ And I am, because it has gotten more people involved.”
The night also marked the end of Guerrero’s four-year tenure on the city council. Guerrero first won election in May 2004 to fill out an unexpired term, then won his own full term in November 2005 without an opponent. Guerrero declined to run this year for personal reasons.
“This experience has changed me forever,” said Guerrero, 31, as he addressed the reception. Then, specifically addressing councilmembers, Guerrero said, “Don’t worry about the challenges. Don’t worry about the naysayers. Don’t let the things people say keep you from doing what you know is right.”
The council unanimously elected Councilmember Pam Couch as Mayor Pro Tem, replacing Guerrero. Couch then nominated Councilmember Kim Porterfield as Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, which again passed unanimously. Porterfield replaced Jones in that role.