Bexar County Judge primary: Peter Sakai, Ina Minjarez headed to Democratic runoff; Trish DeBerry clinches GOP nomination

4 Democrats and 2 Republicans battled to replace retiring Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff for the county’s top elected position

(from left) Nathan Buchanan, Trish DeBerry, Ivalis Meza Gonzalez, Ina Minjarez and Peter Sakai. They are all running for Bexar County Judge. (KSAT)

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Candidate

Votes

%

Peter Sakai(D)
36,46541%
Ina Minjarez(D)
27,65731%
Ivalis Meza Gonzalez(D)
16,99119%
Gerardo (Gerard) Ponce(D)
8,75610%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(279 / 279)

Candidate

Votes

%

Trish DeBerry(R)
49,34263%
Nathan Buchanan(R)
29,11637%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(279 / 279)

Election night update

12:15 a.m. — Former district court judge Peter Sakai and state Rep. Ina Minjarez are headed to a May 24 runoff in the Democratic primary for Bexar County Judge.

Sakai jumped out to an early lead Tuesday night but wasn’t able to clear the 50% mark to avoid a runoff, instead pulling in about 41% of the vote. He’ll face Minjarez, who earned about 31% of the vote.

As of this writing, 80% of precincts had reported but the top two candidates’ lead isn’t reachable for third place Ivalis Meza Gonzalez, who sat at about 19%.

On the Republican side, County Commissioner Trish DeBerry pulled in about 63% of the vote compared to her only challenger, Nathan Buchanan, who earned about 37%.

7 p.m. — Former district court judge Peter Sakai has jumped out to an early lead in the Democratic primary race for Bexar County Judge.

With early votes counted, Sakai had 43% of the vote, with State Rep. Ina Minjarez trailing with 30% of the vote. Ivalis Meza Gonzalez, a former mayoral chief of staff, is in third with 19% of the vote.

If a Democratic candidate fails to get more than 50% of the vote, the race would be decided in a runoff on May 24 between the top two candidates.

In the Republican primary, Trish DeBerry held a firm lead over Nathan Buchanan with 66% of the vote.

Votes cast on Election Day have not yet been counted.

Background

Before the general election, which will decide who will succeed Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, there will be a competitive Democratic primary.

In that race, State Rep. Ina Minjarez, former mayoral chief of staff Ivalis Meza Gonzalez, Gerard Ponce and former district court judge Peter Sakai are all vying to be the party’s candidate. On the Republican ticket, former Pct. 3 County Commissioner Trish DeBerry is likely to clinch the nomination against Nathan Buchanan.

Each candidate comes with political experience.

READ MORE: Bexar County Judge candidates tell KSAT why they’re running

Minjarez has represented the West Side of San Antonio in Texas House District 124 since 2015. Meza Gonzalez served as Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s chief of staff, earning an endorsement from him. Sakai previously served as the 225th District Court Judge for more than a decade.

Minjarez touted her experience in the state capitol over the past six years. The legislator said her time in Austin has given her “specialized training” that makes her the right person for the office.

“I believe with the skillset I have received and leadership roles I have played at the Capitol, I am ready to come home and lead Bexar County,” she said.

Meza Gonzalez said she’s been involved in politics since she was young girl, going to union event with her parents. Prior to serving as Nirenberg’s chief of staff, she worked for the Spurs and the San Antonio River Authority.

“I have a passion for public service and a mother’s drive to get things done,” she said.

Sakai pointed to his experiences over the past 26 years as a district judge in Bexar County, overseeing the court system’s budget and presiding over cases involving drugs, domestic violence and family issues.

“I’ve made the toughest decisions,” Sakai said. “That’s what the next county judge needs to be prepared for, to confront and resolve the tough issues.”

Though each candidate has racked up different endorsements throughout the campaign, Sakai has led the way in campaign in fundraising. Campaign finance records showed he raised more than $135,000 through the month of January. His opponents only raised around $20,000 during that same stretch.

If the candidates fail to get more than 50% of the vote on March 1, a runoff would be set between the top two contenders for the Democratic nomination.

Whoever wins in November will succeed Wolff, who has held the post since 2001. Wolff announced he would not seek re-election during the 2021 State of the County address.


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About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Kolten Parker is digital executive producer at KSAT. Previously, he worked at the San Antonio Express-News and the Texas Observer.