The town of Refugio, with 352 voters casting ballots, elected Joey Heard as its new mayor.
Incumbent Mayor Rey Jaso received 133 votes while Heard received 161 votes. A third mayoral candidate, Ron Nelson, received 53 votes.
The town of Refugio has 1,823 registered voters.
The Refugio City Council canvassed the vote and made no changes on Tuesday, May 14.
Heard will be sworn in as mayor at noon Friday, May 24, at city hall.
“Thank everyone who voted, especially those who voted for me,” Heard said.
Outlining his plans, he said he wanted to continue the process of cleaning up the town and its streets.
He said his main concern was the town’s water system and its integrity.
“The lines are all outdated. We have to do something about the water system,” he said.
Heard said he would research grants that would help with the system.
He said he wanted the city council to continue to work together with Refugio residents’ interests in mind.
“If you live in the city limits, you have a voice,” he said.
Heard also said he wants to set up an email address for residents to communicate their input to him directly.
“We have the Eagle Ford Shale to the north and south of us. I want to make sure we stay ahead on these streets,” Heard said. “They are already expanding on U.S. Highway 183 in Goliad ... only 24 miles away.”
In addition, Heard said he’d like a conversation about safety on Alamo Street.
“I would love to see a crossover (on Alamo Street),” he said. A crossover would make it safer for the kids and for emergency response times, he said.
Another asset the town has is its water, Heard said.
“We have 100 percent support from our groundwater. Industry is welcomed,” he said.
‘We don’t have water restrictions, and that is a major selling point that nobody has ever used,” he added.
Heard praised outgoing Mayor Rey Jaso.
“These are big shoes to fill. He’s done a wonderful job for the town of Refugio. I hope to do as good as he has,” Heard said.
“He is a dedicated mayor who gave much of his life to it – more than 40 years of service to Refugio,” he said.
He noted that Jaso became mayor in May 1972.
Heard reiterated that he will have an open door policy.
Jaso said Heard has been on the council and knows what to do.
“He knows everything I know,” Jaso said
Jaso thanked the people who have helped him over the years and expressed dismay with the election turnout.
“I’m naturally not too pleased with the turnout. I lost by 28 votes,” he said.
Jaso said he had thought with confidence that he would win the election.
He added that the game room busts might have hurt his re-election chances.
“I’m not the person who planned that. He (Chief Andy Lopez Jr.) is law enforcement. That’s his business,” Jaso said.
In addition to his 41 years of service on the city council, he served 13 years as a volunteer fireman and 11 years with Little League.
“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” Jaso said.
“My claim to fame is I was instrumental in bringing cable TV to the county,” he said.
“I guess I will find me another job to keep my mind going,” he said.
In nearby Woodsboro, 232 voters voted out of the 1,001 registered voters. And Larry Jochetz was the top vote-getter for mayor.
Incumbent Mayor George Hernandez Sr. received 84 votes, and Jochetz garnered 145 votes.
The Woodsboro City Council canvassed the vote at a noon short meeting Wednesday, May 22, followed by the swearing- in ceremony for Jochetz.
Jochetz said his main focus would be on the city’s infrastructure – streets and drainage, something a lot of small cities have problems with.
“Our budget is tight, so it’s harder for us to do stuff,” he said. He noted that larger cities have more hotel occupancy taxes and corporations to help out.
“I will research to find out if there are any grants, and I will seek help to use local resources to help with labor,” he said, noting that the county’s precincts 1 and 2 might be able to help.
Jochetz also said he wanted to finish projects started while Hernandez was mayor, including the water system.
And he said he wanted to continue keeping the waste water system upgraded.
Jochetz plans a workshop to involve the community. He said he wanted input for a short-term plan and a long-term plan.
“We can figure out how to draw businesses closer and develop a vision and try to work toward it,” he said.
Jochetz also said as mayor, he wanted to get involved with the Refugio County Community Development Foundation.
“My doors are always open to all the residents in the community. I want to keep a line of communication open with residents and businesses,” he said.
Speaking on Mayor Hernandez, Jochetz offered praise.
“Since I’ve been on the council, he’s done a great job,” he said.
Jochetz said his running for mayor was nothing personal.
“We worked well together. Not everything we saw eye-to-eye on,” he said.
“To all the citizens, it was certainly a pleasure to serve you,” Hernandez said.
“I wish the new administration good luck. And I thank the city staff for putting up with me,” he said.
Hernandez said the people who took the time to vote apparently wanted change.
“That’s the democratic process,” he said.
Hernandez during split terms, spent a total of 18-and-a-half years on the city council and 15 years on the Woodsboro school board.
Jochetz said he was thankful to be elected.
“I want to give thanks to God for allowing me to be in this position. I want to thank everybody who came out and voted for me – for me or against me,” he said.”
Here are other election results for contested races:
Town of Refugio
Place 2: Richard Ramirez, 24; Wanda H. Dukes, 173; Michael Rocha, 97; and Manuel “Manny” Govella, 40.
Refugio ISD has 661 registered voters. A total of 179 voters voted.
Single Member District 1: Eugene Lewis (I), 79; Lisa Varela, 19.
Single Member District 5: Edith Collins (I), 22; Laura Ramirez, 58.
Candidates were sworn in Monday, May 20.
Woodsboro has 1,901 registered voters. A total of 362 voted.
Place 6: Tim Moses (I), 110; Brian Hicks, 248.
Hicks was sworn in Monday evening, May 20.
Town of Woodsboro
Place 1: Jason Andrade, 68; Jeanette Chandler, 58; Julian Garcia, 35; and Ralph Cisneros, 69.
The following elections were cancelled because none of the candidates were opposed: Refugio County Memorial Hospital District; Town of Bayside; Austwell-Tivoli ISD.