McAllen commissioner to step down in bid for county judge

McALLEN — McAllen City Commissioner Tania Ramirez announced she will be running for Hidalgo County judge in the 2022 Democratic primary.

Tania Ramirez

The District 4 city commissioner will be challenging current County Judge Richard Cortez for the Democratic nomination.

“I’m running for Hidalgo County Judge because I believe we need to put Hidalgo County back on the right path,” Ramirez said in a news release. “The people I meet tell me they want a better quality of life, and they don’t understand why Hidalgo County, which is growing in population and economic development, isn’t impacting their life. They are feeling left out.”

Ramirez founded a nonprofit organization called Here, Everybody Loves People, or HELP, through which she met with people from all over the county.

“What I realized is that the same necessities or the same problems that we’re having in South McAllen, we have them all around the county and, not only that, they’re even worse outside of South McAllen that I represent,” Ramirez said during an interview Monday, explaining her decision to run for county judge.

“It was a very tough decision for me, very tough, because it’s going to be really hard for me to leave the city of McAllen,” she said, “but I think it’s for a better purpose and if I can take all that energy and passion that we’ve put in District 4 … and do it countywide, I think it’s going to do very well for the people of Hidalgo County.”

Another motivation for her candidacy was the response to disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding, and the freezing temperatures that befell the state earlier this year.

Though she didn’t blame county officials for what occurred, she criticized the response as being slow.

“If we react appropriately and fast, we can save a lot of people and we can save people’s properties,” she said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cortez had put in place safety restrictions such as mask mandates and capacity limitations until Gov. Greg Abbott outlawed such mandates.

However, if COVID cases were to climb again and hospitals were to find themselves overwhelmed with patients, Ramirez said she would be willing to defy the governor to keep the county safe.

“We represent the people, our residents. We don’t represent a party, we don’t represent one specific individual so we have to do what’s right for the people of Hidalgo County and if that means that we have to defy the governor, so be it,” Ramirez said. “But it’s our people first before politics, before alliances, before anything else because what needed to happen is to save people’s lives and protect our people.”

If she were to be elected, one of her priorities would be improving lighting in an effort to make neighborhoods more secure, but the number one issue for her would be drainage.

“Every time it rains, people lose their properties, they lose their computers, their vehicles, their clothing. So they kind of have to start all over from zero,” she said, adding that having better communication with all 22 cities on drainage improvements should be the number one priority for the county.

She said both issues were concerns for her district in McAllen but also wanted to address those needs for other county residents.

Her announcement prompts her automatic resignation from the city commission and during the next city commissioner meeting in two weeks, the remaining city commissioners will declare a vacancy, according to McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez.

Staff will give the commissioners options for dates for a special election to fill her seat. Though she will have resigned, Ramirez will continue serving until her replacement is elected.

In the Democratic primary election, slated in March 2022, Ramirez will be running against Cortez who was elected county judge in 2018 and who announced in June that he was running for re-election. Prior to his election, Cortez also served on the McAllen City Commission representing District 1.

Ramirez, an attorney, obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Our Lady of the Lake University and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

She worked as an assistant district attorney for the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office for more than two years before opening her own law firm, Tania Ramirez Law Group PLLC.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with the final version.