A representative from the chamber, the teachers’ union and the moderator will vet questions fielded from the audience and the community beforehand in writing.
SAN BENITO — Candidates running in some of the hottest city and school district elections in years that could shift the boards’ balances of power will be facing off in a forum in which they’ll outline their platforms before fielding audience questions.
The crowded field of candidates running for city commission and school board seats in the May 6 election will square off at 5:30 p.m. March 27 at the La Villita dance hall at 261 W. Robertson St. during the event sponsored by the San Benito Chamber of Commerce.
Ray Quiroga, publisher of the San Benito News, will serve as the event’s moderator.
As part of the forum, candidates will get a chance to outline their platforms before fielding audience questions.
“Candidates will be provided five minutes to introduce themselves and to discuss their platforms,” organizers stated.
During intermission, members of the audience will get a chance to pose written questions, Cathy Weaver, the chamber’s executive director, said March 24.
“A representative from the chamber, the teachers’ union and the moderator will vet questions fielded from the audience and the community beforehand in writing,” organizers stated, referring to the San Benito teachers’ union chapter.
In the San Benito city commission’s election, seven candidates are on the ballot, with three seats up for grabs.
In one of the city’s hottest races, Mayor Rick Guerra, a retired Harlingen firefighter running for a second term, faces Commissioner Rene Garcia, a Social Security Administration claims specialist, and former Mayor Ben Gomez, a school district parent specialist.
Running for the commission’s Place 1 seat, Tom Goodman, a South Padre Island real estate broker, squares off against Eddie Abrego, San Benito High School’s assistant principal, for the seat Garcia is vacating after winning office in 2020.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Rene Villafranco, a federal employee who first won election in 2009, faces Deborah Ann Morales, the vice president of Texas Funeral Associates who serves on the city’s Economic Development Corporation board.
In the San Benito school board’s election, four out of seven seats are on the ballot.
In the race for the board’s Place 4 seat, board member Orlando Lopez, a vascular specialist with a medical company running for a third term, faces Julian Joseph Rios, the manager of Chuy’s Custom Sports who serves as the city’s EDC chairman.
In the contest for the school board’s Place 5 seat, board member Rudy Corona, an AT&T fiber technician running for a second term, squares off against Jack Garcia, a former district official who served as the city’s mayor and is working for the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
Running for the board’s Place 6 seat, Ramiro Moreno, the board’s president who works as a principal with the Rio Hondo school district, faces Alex Reyna, a retired San Benito school district police officer.
In the race for the board’s Place 7 seat, newly appointed board member Frutoso Gomez, a former longtime Cameron County chief appraiser whom the school board named to fulfill Janie Lopez’s term after she won the new state House of Representatives District 37 seat, faces Michael Vargas, the assistant public affairs director with the city of Pharr whom a group of residents removed as the school board’s president in 2019.