MISSION, RGV – As expected, Armando ”Mando” O’Caña will be the new mayor of Mission.

Unofficial election results show the longtime educator and city council member received 51.12 percent of the vote in Saturday’s runoff election. Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas, who has run Mission for 20 years, received 48.88 percent of the vote. The unofficial victory margin is 152 votes.

O’Caña has said he will only serve a maximum of two terms as mayor.

A run-off election was needed after Salinas says he was two votes shy of attaining the 50 percent majority needed to be re-elected on May 5.

Attorney Gus Martinez aligned himself with the O’Caña campaign and will take the place of O’Caña on the Precinct 4 slot on the city council. Martinez defeated Julian Gonzalez, the city manager of Hidalgo, by 52.39 percent to 47.61 percent. 

O’Caña was expected to win because invariably in Texas, incumbents lose in runoff elections. At a Texas Municipal League annual summer meeting on South Padre Island recently, lobbyist Snapper Carr explained to Region 12 members that incumbents rarely win runoffs in Texas.

In fact, only three incumbents have won in the last 28 runoff attempts, Carr said. 

Carr, who represents the needs of local governments before the Texas Legislature and helps private-sector clients understand and navigate local government processes, was not speaking about any one particular runoff race. Rather, he was giving an overview on what happens in runoff elections in Texas.

“In an open seat that is pushed to a runoff, it is often a tossup,” Carr told TML members from Region 12. “Incumbents, though, just by the numbers, do not fare well. In the last 28 elections, where an incumbent has been pushed to a runoff, the record is three and 25. That is a very significant situation for incumbents.”

Since Carr made that statement, two more incumbent state representatives have lost runoff elections.

Mission resident and business owner David Garza supported O’Caña in the election. Garza said: “With our new mayor there is hope for the old Mission Townsite residents. As a downtown resident and business owner, I am ecstatic.”

Here is the O’Caña biography posted on the City of Mission website:

Councilman Dr. Armando O’Caña is a 1972 graduate of Mission High School, graduated in 1976 from Pan American University with a Bachelor’s degree and in 1980 with a Master’s of Education. In 1992 Councilman O’Caña received his Associates in Applied Science in Fire Protection and graduated in 1996 from the National Fire Academy. In 1999, he received his PhD in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University College Station. Councilman O’Cana is currently the Dropout Prevention and School Safety Director District Emergency Operation Coordinator with the La Joya ISD. Councilman O’Caña previously served on the City Council from May 2001-2007 and was elected to a 4-year term in May of 2012 and 2016. Councilman O’Caña has served as a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principal, Texas Association of Secondary School Principal, Rio Grande Valley Administrators Association, Accelerated School Network, American Association of Counselor, Learning Style National Network-St John University, Rio Grande Valley of Arson Investigators, Twelfth Man Foundation-Texas A & M , La Joya Lions International, Mayor’s Liaison to the Mission Boys and Girls Club, Hidalgo County 911 Committee, Secondary Board Member to Amigos del Valle, South Texas Arson and Explosive Task Force, Texas Association for Alternative Education and Region One Association for Alternative Education.

Click here to read the Rio Grande Guardian’s in-depth feature on O’Caña.