Editor's note: This story includes descriptions of racist language, as described by a candidate.

Incumbent Pct. 1 Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores declared victory in Tuesday night's runoff election with 63% of the vote and a prepared speech in which she accused her opponent and a local law enforcement union of “instigating racism” and “bullying and harassment.”

What had been a relatively low-key campaign season in the precinct ended with the public airing of allegations, and Clay-Flores’ primary opponent Amanda Gonzalez called the incumbent a “dictator.”

Reading from prepared remarks at her victory party at Arizona Cafe, Clay-Flores said on Monday and Tuesday last week, her campaign office received “several calls calling me n—-.”

Attendees gasped. She went on: “These calls started the week of early voting and are directly correlated with my opponent in the sheriff deputy's association's spewing of hate propaganda.”

Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe, the commissioner's chief of staff, told the ISF FORUM she answered a total of six calls and was “thrown” by the use of the racial slur in each call. At least four occurred in quick succession and the caller ID was blocked on all calls.

The calls were not recorded, Clay-Flores said, and she had no proof that the calls were directed by the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County, but she added that the union and Gonzalez's polling site signs and mailers “instigated hate and racism.”

While taking questions from reporters after her speech, Clay-Flores again shifted suspicion toward the union for making the calls.

“If I was a betting person, which I’m not, I would bet that it was probably deputy sheriffs — but we don't have proof of it. Either way, they instigated it. Period,” she said.

In response, union leadership said in a statement: “The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County firmly condemns racism and prejudice in all forms. ... This is the first we are hearing of any incidents of racism during this campaign, and we encourage the Commissioner to pursue all appropriate mechanisms of legal recourse at her disposal to ensure that justice is served.”

The union also defended its campaign material against Clay-Flores: “At no point was any reference made to her ethnicity or racial makeup.”

Clay-Flores is proudly biracial, she said Tuesday. “I'm Black, and in the same breath that God has given me, I'm a proud Mexican.”

In Gonzalez's campaign speech, which she gave before Clay-Flores' remarks, she did not address the allegations when thanking her volunteers.

“I am proud that the people [who] are in this room weren't scared to stand beside me,” she said. “... Because we had a dictator who was leading that position — that you were willing to give me the chance. ... I ask you: continue to hold her accountable.”

In recent weeks, Clay-Flores and Gonzalez had traded barbs in mailers and interviews accusing each other of dishonesty, some of which centered around their support — or lack of support — for law enforcement.

Amanda Gonzalez, right, hugs supporters after a loss on election night on Tuesday.
Amanda Gonzalez, right, hugs supporters after falling behind on election night on Tuesday. Credit: Scott Ball / ISF FORUM

Gonzalez, who has worked in the state legislature and whose father is a Bexar County sheriff’s deputy, received the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County endorsement. The union sent out a statement earlier this month that called out Clay-Flores for voting against the county adding 50 new deputies to the budget in April.

The commissioner later voted in favor of those positions as part of the budget process.

After Tuesday's victory, Clay-Flores will face Republican Lina Prado, a senior supply chain manager at Boeing, in November to represent the solidly blue Southside and Westside precinct on the county's Commissioners Court.

The precinct is home to the expanding Toyota plant, Joint Base San Antonio, Port San Antonio, Texas A&M University-San Antonio and the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River.

In the March Democratic primary, Clay-Flores faced five opponents and received about 46% of the vote to Gonzalez’s roughly 20%.

The latest campaign finance reports show the incumbent spent roughly seven times what Gonzalez spent from late February to mid-May, about $225,000 compared to $32,000.

Clay-Flores declined at least two requests to attend candidate forums ahead of the runoff, stoking her critics’ concerns that she hasn’t been an accessible representative. One of those forums was proposed by the Hot Wells Neighborhood Association, which criticized her approval of an adjacent apartment complex to house people experiencing homelessness.

The San Antonio Police Officers Association declined to endorse in the race despite Gonzalez previously working for Blue Cares, its nonprofit arm.

The former executive director resigned to run for office and later accused police union leadership of asking her to create meeting records, according to KSAT.

Clay-Flores was backed by the Texas Organizing Project, a progressive advocacy group that supported the 2023 effort to expand cite-and-release while decriminalizing marijuana and abortion among other things — a measure decidedly rejected by voters. It also funded a ballot proposition in 2021 that would have stripped the police union of its power to collectively bargain for its contract. That measure was narrowly defeated.

Clay-Flores has a master’s degree in education from Harvard and spent most of her career teaching before going to work for the city’s Metropolitan Health District.

She won her seat four years ago by ousting Democratic incumbent Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez, who held the seat for four terms or 16 years. Neither commissioners nor the Bexar County Judge have term limits.

“I truly believe that the public is fed up with negative campaigning,” Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai told the ISF FORUM outside Clay-Flores' election night watch party before she made her remarks. “I really hope that the Precinct 1 community and all the political divisions will come together and work as one. That's the only way — especially with all the great opportunity and growth and economic development that's going on in [in the South and West sides].”

Bexar County’s 73rd Civil District Court

With all vote centers reporting, Elizabeth Martinez won the race to become Democrats’ nominee for the 73rd Civil District Court, finishing with 53% of the vote against Ana Laura Ramirez.

Democrat David Canales vacated the seat earlier this year, and Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Republican Marialyn Barnard to serve until a new judge is elected.

The eventual Democratic nominee will be unopposed in the November election. No Republicans filed to run for any of the county’s district court seats this election cycle.

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the ISF FORUM's...