Judge rules to retain Rick Villarreal as Palmview Mayor
After months of uncertainty, the city of Palmview now has an elected mayor.
A Texas district court judge ruled on Monday that Ricardo “Rick” Villarreal duly elected into office in November.
“The city is relieved in a sense that we do have a ruling and that he retained his seat,” said Palmview City Attorney, Eric Flores.
The controversy began when Villareal was sworn-in in November. He ran unopposed and didn’t receive a single vote. Villareal was declared the winner of the mayoral race by default.
However, according to Texas election code, Villarreal should have received at least one vote.
The Texas Secretary of State raised concerns about the election.
“At that point, I accordingly advised the council on what they should do,” said Flores. “We were going to call a special meeting to call a special election. At that point, Mr. Villareal, well within his rights, sought litigation, to stop us from doing so.”
In December, some expressed interest in running against him should a new election be held.
“I think the city should decide who the next mayor is going to be,” said Palmview resident, Roy Diaz. “It’s not who they want to point out to. I think we should have another election.”
Flores said all interested in running for mayor were given ample time to announce their candidacy during the original election.
According to the court documents, Villarreal agreed to not seek monetary damages from the city and each party will pay for their respective attorney costs.
Joel Garcia, Mayor Pro Tem, said the city is ready to put the controversy behind them.
“We’re ready to get back to work,” he said. “Everything is going OK. The citizens of Palmview should not have any concerns about it.”
Commissioners said Villareal will likely be present at the next city commission meeting to fulfill his mayoral duties.