By Janet Bresenham: CNJ Correspondent
After four elections in more than four months, Muleshoe finally has its District 1 city council member.
Political newcomer Robert Orozco reveled in the thrill of victory Saturday night, winning a majority vote over the candidate who defeated him for the position in a special election earlier in the year.
Orozco will serve the next three years on the Muleshoe City Council.
“My heart has been beating fast for awhile now, waiting to hear, until the city secretary called me,” said the lifelong resident of the small West Texas city. “I feel pretty good about it. I put a lot of hard effort into this and it paid off. I just want to help the community here in Muleshoe and make it even better.”
Orozco won after a previous election turned up no winners as recognized by Texas law.
In Texas, elections are won when candidates earn more than 50 percent of the vote. When no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election — when a candidate needs a simple majority — decides the winner.
In Saturday’s special runoff election, Orozco ousted incumbent Daniel Guzman by a final vote of 45-39, according to city secretary LeAnn Gallman.
For six months, politics has dominated the community of Muleshoe, as voters sought to fill the city council seat left vacant by 12-year veteran councilor Juan Chavez.
First, Chavez resigned in January to run for county commissioner, which paved the way for a special election on Feb. 7.
Then, the February election was too close, which forced a runoff election on March 6, when Guzman came out the winner. However, he had to run again in the regular election in May, Gallman said.
In the May 15 election, neither Guzman nor Orozco garnered the required majority vote of more than 50 percent as they faced a third contender, Freddy Santos, which made another runoff election necessary under Texas law, Gallman said.
So Guzman had served in office only since March, when he won the runoff election by one vote over Orozco.
“It was too close of a contest and my family told me not to give up,” Orozco said, crediting his wife and two children for their support. Orozco, 43, and his family own a restaurant in Texico and he also works as maintenance operator for the Parkview Health Center nursing home in Muleshoe.
Guzman, who owns and operates his own trucking company, remained optimistic about his political future and wished his opponent well.
“I hope Richard can do a good job for Muleshoe, just like Mr. Chavez did,” Guzman said. “I was delighted and really humbled to serve, even for a short time. Definitely, I’ll seek election again. I really enjoyed it. I love the people and I love the district.”
Orozco officially will be sworn into office at 5:30 p.m. CDT on June 29 at the City Council’s scheduled meeting, Gallman said. He joins this year’s new mayor, Cliff Black, and three other councilors on the city’s governing board.
District 1 is in the southeast portion of Muleshoe, where 478 people are registered to vote. Early voting took place from June 2-15.