The Dead and the Apathetic: School Board Election Absurdity in Texas

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

In these highly charged political times. it's easy to forget that for the most part, the average American is fairly apathetic when it comes to politics. Oh, there may be causes he or she cares about and politicians he or she despises, but when it comes to actually going out and voting...well, that just sounds like a lot of work.

Last Saturday elections were held across our great state, and for the most part they were fairly quiet and uneventful affairs. Some people won, others lost and a few are getting ready for runoff elections.

It was your typical election night, or at least it would have been if not for the towns of Shiner and Lytle, which decided to spice things up and see which community could have a more absurd school board election result.

We begin in Shiner, a town known more for their beer and their absurd brewery tour hours (seriously, guys, open up a couple of weekends a year) than they are for their local politics. That all changed Saturday night when the good people of the community got together and re-elected Rusty Mills. This wouldn't be a big deal except for one important fact: Mills died back in March.

What is perhaps most interesting about this story is not so much that a dead man was re-elected but that people knew this was going to happen.

"I'm not surprised. It's an unusual situation," said Shiner Superintendent Trey Lawrence, speaking with The Victoria Advocate.

Unusual is one way to describe it.

Of course, the dead taking power in Shiner is nothing compared to the goings-on in Lytle.

Now if you've never heard of Lytle, that's okay. All you need to know is that it's about 25 miles southwest of San Antonio and that its school district serves a little over 1700 kids. And one of those people presiding over those kids will be Christina Mercado, who won her election over Patty Cortez by one vote.

Before you go thinking this is a story about how every vote counts and how we should all remember to vote, what you need to know is that winning by one vote is not the story here.

The story is that the one vote was the only vote in the election. That's right, Mercado beat Cortez 1-0.

So here's the question: Assuming that Mercado voted for herself and Cortez didn't vote at all, what would have happened if Cortez had voted? Would they have had to hold a runoff election? Would they have kept having elections until one of them gave in and failed to show up one election day? How many rounds could their 1-1 tie have gone?

Unfortunately for us, but good for the students of Lytle, we'll never know.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.