SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, RGV – Unofficial runoff election results are now in. The number of votes cast during early voting was 634 with 242 cast on Election Day for a total of 876 votes cast.

In the early voting period, businessman Patrick McNulty received 325 votes while former assistant city manager Darla Jones secured 309 votes. On Election Day, 163 voters went for McNulty and 79 for Jones. So the winner, pending the official canvassing of the votes, is McNulty. He secured 488 of the total votes, compared to 388 for Jones.

Canvassing of the election results will be conducted on Wednesday, July 10 at 3 p.m. at a special called City Council meeting at City Hall. 

Editor’s Note: The main photo accompanying the above news story shows Patrick McNulty with supporters after the polls had closed. Photo courtesy of Arnie Creninin.

Here is the original Rio Grande Guardian story previewing the runoff election:

South Padre Island voters to elect new mayor

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, RGV – The voters of South Padre Island will go to the polls on Saturday to elect a new mayor.

A runoff election is taking place between businessman Patrick McNulty and former SPI assistant city manager Darla Jones. 

The winner will complete the remainder of the term that should have been filled by Dennis Stahl. Stahl announced he was resigning for personal reasons. 

Darla Jones

Both Jones and McNulty believe the result will be close with a much lower turnout than on election day. On that day, Jones picked up 44 percent of the vote, McNulty 30 percent, and restaurant owner Clayton Brashear 26 percent.

In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, McNulty gave a couple of reasons why voters should choose him.

“I am the best candidate because I have spent many years serving South Padre Island as a volunteer on several boards and committees. I know the inner working of the government but I am also the only candidate that has to make payroll and understands what it is like to be a business owner on South Padre Island,” McNulty said.

McNulty said the SPI community needs to come together to make the island the best it can be.

“Not just for one particular group but for everybody, inclusively, be they residents or visitors or business owners or retirees. We need to find that happy medium. I have always been one that listens to all sides and tries to find a solution or a compromise,  that attempts to make at least as many people as possible happy. Obviously you cannot make everybody happy.”

McNulty is a real estate broker who owns a construction company and a restaurant. He said he got into the race when he saw the positions being taken up by Brashear and Jones. 

“It seemed like the other two candidates were on opposite sides of the spectrum on things and I found myself in the middle. The South Padres Island council does not need to be polarized. I don’t think local government should be polarized by one side or the other side.”

Patrick McNulty

Jones’ pitch to voters has been that she can hit the ground running from day one. She has touted the support of a number of VIPs, including former mayors Barry Patel and Peggy Trahan, former Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos.

“If elected, I’ll be ready to go on day one. There’s no learning curve. I’ll be committed to helping South Padre Island continue the progress that’s been made over the last several years,” Jones wrote, on her Facebook page.

Jones has 28 years of municipal government experience. She said this will prove invaluable as mayor.

“I have developed positive working relationships with cities, agencies and state departments that will make it easy to keep the progress of South Padre Island moving forward,” Jones said.

“My time as assistant city manager for the City of South Padre Island has given me wide-ranging knowledge and experience in infrastructure construction and management, including water, sewer, storm water, streets, sidewalks and building facilities as well as extensive experience in FEMA training in Emergency Management including Hurricane Dolly recovery.”

Jones added that the people of South Padre Island deserve a mayor with experience in city budgets, financial statements, laws, policies, officials, projects, and even the agenda process. 

“South Padre Island residents deserve a mayor who will protect their interests while doing what is best for all of South Padre Island, and someone who will be ready to work for them on Day 1.”

There have been a few controversial aspects to the mayoral race, with both candidates crying foul. 

McNulty said a political action committee with deep pockets has tried to sway voters with advertising buys to boost the chances Jones. He believes the Property Owners Who Care PAC has chipped in around $30,000 to help his opponent.

“It is out of town money from Ray and Nancy Hunt. The amount they have poured into the race is mind-boggling,” McNulty said.

The supporters of Jones, meanwhile, have complained about a front page article on a local newspaper that focused on her non-appearance at a candidate forum. They say the author of the story was a staff member on the McNulty campaign team. Meanwhile, Jones has defended her decision not to attend the forum, which was held at the Isla Grande Hotel and hosted by the South Padre Island Business Owners Association. 

The management of that hotel, Jones said, is “actively and publicly supporting my opponent and is not a neutral forum. After making a few inquiries to a few of its (SPIBOA) members, I learned that the persons who wanted to create this forum are all supporters of my opponent and not neutral parties.”