San Antonio and surrounding communities soon will have fluoride added to their water, according to nearly complete local voting returns that, in the end, generated few upsets or surprises.

With early votes and 573 of 625 ballot boxes counted, accounting for 92 percent of the local votes cast, Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez, a Democrat, was narrowly leading Republican challenger Mark Vojvodich with more than 52 percent of the vote.

It appeared Lopez would win re-election after having trailed earlier.

The water-fluoridation initiative had the support of more than 52 percent of voters.

In the 131st District, Democratic incumbent John D. Gabriel jumped ahead of Republican Bill Sullivan with more than 52 percent of the vote.

Gabriel had trailed Sullivan for much of the night.

Despite several close races, the only casualty among judges holding district court benches was in District 407, where Republican incumbent Victor Negron, appointed to the bench by Gov. George W. Bush, trailed Democrat Karen Pozza, who carried over 53 percent of the vote.

Besides a highly contested water-fluoridation issue and a well publicized race for the nation?s new president, the ballot in Bexar County features hard-fought races at the state and local level, including a heated battle for tax assessor-collector and a high-profile race for presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Following the national trend toward Bush/Cheney, Bexar County voters supported the Republican presidential ticket, which carried more than 52 percent of the vote locally. The Democratic Gore/Lieberman ticket carried nearly 45 percent of the vote, while the Green Party?s Nader/LaDuke ticket drew about 2 percent.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Republican incumbent, easily won re-election.

In races for Congress, District 20 incumbent Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, easily led Libertarian challenger Alejandro DePena, in statewide results.

In District 21, Republican incumbent Lamar Smith led Jim Green, a Democrat, and Libertarian candidate C.W. ?Jinx? Steinbrecher.

District 23 incumbent Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, led Democratic challenger Isidro Garza Jr. and Libertarian candidate Jeffrey C. Blunt.

In District 28, Ciro Rodriguez, the Democratic incumbent, easily led Libertarian challenger William A. ?Bill? Stalknecht.

In State Senate District 21, the Democratic incumbent, Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, led Republican challenger David Swift. In District 25, the incumbent, Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, had a lop-sided lead over Libertarian candidate George Meeks in Bexar County.

In legislative races in South Texas, Elizabeth Ames Jones, the Republican nominee who defeated District 121 incumbent Bill Siebert in the March primary, led Michael G. Zapper, a Democrat and political newcomer, and J. ?Jay? Moore, a Libertarian.

In District 122, incumbent John Shields led Libertarian challenger William E. ?Bill? Grisham.

Frank Corte Jr., the Republican incumbent in District 123 led Libertarian challenger Alice Yau. In District 125, the Democratic incumbent, Art Reyna led Republican challenger Chris George.

In the contested race for two seats on the three-member Texas Railroad Commission, Republican incumbents Michael L. Williams and Charles R. Matthews held substantial leads statewide over Green Party candidates Gary Dugger and Charlie Mauch and Libertarians Anthony A.M. Garcia and Carolyn Fields.

For Texas Supreme Court Place 1, Justice Nathan Hecht led Libertarian challenger Mike Jacobellis and Green Party candidate Ben Levy in Bexar County. In Place 2, incumbent Priscilla Owen had a strong lead over Libertarian Joe Alfred Izen Jr. Place 3 incumbent Al Gonzales, who was appointed last year, led Lance Smith, a Libertarian.

In one of three contested races for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Republican Sharon Keller led Democrat Bill Vance in a race for presiding judge of the nine-member panel.

In Place 1, Republican Charles R. Holcomb of Jacksonville had a strong lead over Libertarian Rife Scott Kimler of Beaumont. In Place 2, Republican Barbara Parker Hervey of San Antonio had a comfortable lead in statewide returns over the Democrat candidate, William R. Barr of Dallas.

In the 4th Court of Appeals, which covers 32 counties, Democratic incumbent Alma Lopez in Place 1, one of four contested races, narrowly led Republican challenger Rebecca Simmons in statewide results.

In Place 2, the incumbent Catherine Stone, a Democrat, led Jay Brandon, a Republican. Place 3 incumbent Paul Green, a Republican, led Democrataic challenger Emilio Martinez. In Place 4, Sarah Duncan, the Republican incumbent, led Warren Weir, a Democrat.

In Bexar County, Tax Assessor-Collector Sylvia Romo led Republican Bruce Bennett and Libertarian James L. Thompson.

In the 399th District Court, incumbent Juanita A. Vasquez-Gardner, one of three appointed Republican judges trying to win voter approval, led Democrat Demetrio Duarte.

In the 408th District, incumbent Phylis J. Speedlin had a comfortable lead over Democratic candidate Milton Fagin.

Also, 73rd District incumbent Andy Mireles, a Democrat, led Republican challenger Gary A. Beahm.

In contested races for Bexar County commissioner, Democratic incumbent Robert Tejeda led Republican challenger Mike Provost in Precinct 1, while the Precinct 3 incumbent, Republican Lyle Larson, easily led challenger Michael Bird, a Libertarian candidate.

Meanwhile, in Travis County, a referendum to build light rail, using a portion of the 1-cent sales tax collected by Capital Metropolitan Transit, was trailing narrowly. With just over 70 percent of the vote counted in Travis County, rail opponents had slightly more than 50 percent of the vote.