After a nearly three-year quest, a longtime Kyle resident finally succeeded Saturday in earning a place on the city council dais.
By securing close to 52% of the vote, Robert Rizo outlasted three other opponents to claim the unexpired District 3 at-large seat. Rizo will serve the final six-plus months of former city council member Shane Arabie’s term before the seat comes up for election again this November.
The moment came as a surprise for Rizo, who expected a possible runoff to occur with the volume of candidates in the running.
“It was a good result. The hard work all paid off,” Rizo said.
Rizo, a property management supervisor who’s lived in the area nearly all of his life, said he was initially excited when early voting results showed he had an early lead.
Despite low voter turnout, Rizo had a slim 78-vote advantage over former Kyle City Council member Stuart Kirkwood for the lead following the release of early voting numbers. Rizo’s cautious optimism turned to excitement when he received a 107 vote surge on Election Day, which helped him outlast Kirkwood for the seat.
Rizo, who spent 12 hours holding signs near each of the three Election Day polling sites, said he wasn’t sure how the race was going to go amid a late surge of participation at Chapa Middle School.
“You’re just not sure if that surge is in your favor or someone else’s,” Rizo said.
Winning the seat temporarily closes a nearly three-year trek for Rizo and his attempt for election to the Kyle City Council dais.
An initial run for Kyle City Council in 2017 was thwarted after Rizo, and city officials, discovered his address at the time wasn’t within city limits, even though Rizo and his family had been paying city taxes on the property.
A move to an address on his property that was within city limits allowed Rizo to make a second run at a city council seat in November 2018. Rizo, however, was defeated by Rick Koch in the race for the District 5 seat that year.
Rizo said that experience allowed him to block walk and meet residents and gain a firmer understanding of the issues.
Rizo translated that effort into his 2019 campaign, which began weeks after Arabie submitted his formal letter of resignation to the Kyle City Council, opening the seat up for a special May election.
Going door to door and making plenty of phone calls is what Rizo said helped spur his campaign and get people excited for Saturday. Giving residents a candidate who has been visible in the community and someone they could vote for was his goal.
“I hope it shows that I’m not afraid of hard work and I’m willing to serve this community,” Rizo said.
Preparing for the defense of his seat in November, however, circulated within Rizo’s mind soon after he got the news he won. Over the course of several hours after his win, Rizo said he drove around Kyle to pick up election signs in preparation for a possible November challenge.
Rizo plans to navigate the learning curve with joining the city council and hopes he can reach out to other city leaders to “try and move Kyle forward.”
Nothing is a gimme. You have to work hard and I’ll have to work just as hard in November,” Rizo said. “I’ll have to earn it.”