SAN ANTONIO –
UPDATE: A judge on Monday granted a temporary restraining order against Bexar County sought by Pct. 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela, who is asking the court to delay her replacement as constable.
She is being replaced after triggering a Texas resign-to-run law.
That means the county will have to wait until at least Oct. 11, when a district court will hold a hearing on the temporary restraining order, to officially replace Barrientes Vela as constable.
"Today visiting Judge John Gabriel heard Constable Vela's application for a temporary restraining order requesting Bexar County commissioner's court be prevented from replacing her," said Larry Roberson, Civil Division Chief with the Bexar County District Attorney's Office. "The court denied Constable Vela's request to stop commissioner's court from Interviewing and appointing her successor and instead granted the County's request for an order to move forward with the selection process and appointment. A hearing on October 11, 2019, will determine when and if the appointment becomes effective."
Still, county officials say they will interview and select a final candidate on Wednesday at a special session at Commissioner's Court. That person won't be able to be sworn in until the judge decides whether the county can replace her.
The embattled constable triggered automatic resignation under the state law last week when she announced to KSAT and later other media that she planned to run for sheriff in 2020. The law stipulates that elected officials who announce plans for another office with more than 13 months left in their current term forfeit their seat.
Barrientes Vela has claimed her comment was "an excited utterance rather than a formal political declaration to seek the sheriff's seat in 2020."
ORIGINAL: Twenty-nine people submitted applications before the noon deadline on Monday to replace Michelle Barrientes Vela as Bexar County Precinct 2 constable, officials confirmed to KSAT.
"We have received quite a number of qualified applicants for the interim position. I look forward to reviewing the applications and filling this position in the coming days," Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said in a statement, adding that the Commissioners Court will convene a special session Wednesday morning to interview and select a final candidate.
Among the applicants is Val Flores, who oversaw the same office for multiple terms before losing badly to Barrientes Vela and other candidates during the 2016 Democratic primary, and Amadeo Ortiz, the former Bexar County Sheriff who lost to Susan Pamerleau in 2012.
The full list, provided by Bexar County officials, below:
- Jose L. Bañales
- Nathaniel Buchanan
- Melissa Aryn Campbell
- Charles A. Campbell
- Rudy Dominguez
- James C. Dorsey
- Donald Falcon
- Val Flores
- Javier Flores
- Lydia C. Garcia
- Rudolph A. Gonzalez
- Victorio Rolando Guedea
- Hilario R. Gutierrez
- Tony Lee Jones
- Cecil Burton Jones, Jr.
- Michael V. King
- Michael Lacey
- Ian S. Lovestock
- Reynaldo V. Lujan
- Justino Monarez
- John Muirhead
- Amadeo A. Ortiz
- Edwardo Flores Prado II
- Mary Ruiz
- John Michael Seda
- Milton Smith
- Alex R. Torres
- Leticia R. Vasquez
- Debra L. Zerda
"My hope is to have this position filled with a qualified and talented individual to ensure that there are no gaps in service to the constituents of Precinct 2," said Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez in a statement.
Bexar County election archives show Flores received only 13 percent of the vote in March 2016, well behind Barrientes Vela's 28 percent. She finished second and moved on to a runoff in May 2016, during which she beat Rudy Garza 53 percent to 47 percent.
In November 2016, Barrientes Vela defeated Republican Kenneth "Randy" Menn 66 percent to 34 percent.
Sheriff announcement follows raid
As FBI agents and the Texas Rangers conducted a 10-hour raid inside Barrientes Vela's offices last week, the first-term constable stood outside and told KSAT's Deven Clarke that she would be running for sheriff in 2020.
"We're going to go ahead and formally announce today that I will be seeking the chair and the seat of the Sheriff's Office in Bexar County," Barrientes Vela said as she stood next to her husband.
Clarke then asked her, "I guess the cat's out of the bag. You are officially going to run for the office of Bexar County sheriff in the next election?"
"Yes. I'm very confident. I know I can do the job. I've been doing my job for my constituents," said Barrientes Vela.
The declaration, which came with 15 months left in her current term, triggered the state's resign-to-run law.
The law was written into the Texas Constitution as a way to keep elected officials from ignoring the duties of their position while seeking a higher office.
Last week, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff cited the law while announcing plans to replace Barrientes Vela in office.
Tuesday, county commissioners will interview candidates of their choosing.
Barrientes Vela's successor is scheduled to be announced Wednesday morning.
Stay with KSAT for more on this developing story.