More than 27,000 early ballots cast across Valley with Brownsville mayoral race topping interest

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Election day for these races is Saturday. Polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Twenty elections for cities, school districts and other entities in the Rio Grande Valley have drawn more than 27,000 voters over the course of eight days during early voting.

There have been 27,167 early ballots cast between nine local elections in Hidalgo County and 11 in Cameron County, according to unofficial results.

In Hidalgo County, 10,839 early ballots have been cast, including mail-ins, for races including the cities of McAllen, Pharr, San Juan, Mercedes, La Villa and Peñitas. There are also competitive races in the McAllen ISD election, and elections for the Donna and Sharyland school districts.

Hidalgo County voters will also decide on a proposition that, if passed, would allow Drainage District No.1 to issue $195 million in bonds to fund system upgrades.

Victor “Seby” Haddad, Pepe Cabeza de Vaca, Rodolfo “Rudy” Castillo and Javier Salazar

In McAllen, incumbents Victor “Seby” Hadad and Pepe Cabeza De Vaca are running unopposed for Districts 5 and 6, respectively, while Commissioner Rodolfo “Rudy” Castillo and Javier Salazar are vying for the District 4 post.

McAllen ISD trustee Marco Suarez is also in a heated contest between his Place 1 opponent Lizzie Kittleman, a professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Place 4 trustee Tony Forina, a field operations director for Hidalgo County, is facing Erica De La Garza-Lopez for his seat on the board.

For Place 5, Danny Vela’s seat, which is being vacated because he opted not to seek reelection, will go to either Rojelio Aleman II or Aaron Daniel Rivera. Aleman is a veteran and Rivera is an attorney.

Local attorney Lucia Regalado is running unopposed for Conrado “Ito” Alvarado’s Place 2 seat on the board.

TOP ROW (from left to right): Marco Suarez, Lizzie Kittleman and Lucia Regalado. TOP RIGHT: The McAllen ISD school board meeting room in the district’s Administration Building on Oct. 13, 2021 in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected]) BOTTOM ROW (from left to right): Tony Forina, Erica De La Garza-Lopez, Rojelio Aleman II and Aaron Daniel Rivera. (Candidates courtesy: McAllen ISD)

The mayoral office is up for grabs, meanwhile, in Pharr with incumbent Ambrosio Hernandez seeking reelection against two opponents: Ricardo “Rick” Pedraza and former police chief and city manager Andy Harvey.

Place 1 Commissioner Eleazar Guajardo is also facing two challengers in Edgar Rincon and Michael Pacheco.

Ricardo Medina and Itza Flores, incumbents for Places 5 and 6, respectively, are running unopposed.

Cameron County cities and schools made up for the majority of early votes with 16,328 ballots cast as of Tuesday in local elections.

The Brownsville city election, more specifically the highly anticipated four-way race for mayor, accounted for more early ballots cast than any other election thus far, with 6,232 tallied.

Mayor Trey Mendez’s decision not to run for reelection triggered four challengers throwing their hats in the political ring, including self-proclaimed wedding officiant Erasmo Castro, City Commissioner At-Large and Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation Chair John Cowen Jr., business owner Jennifer Stanton and District 2 City Commissioner Jessica Tetreau.

Erasmo Castro, John Cowen Jr., Jennifer Stanton and Jessica Tetreau

School board elections in San Benito and Harlingen have also attracted voters with 2,072 already cast for the former and 2,126 for the latter.

San Benito CISD races pit Place 4 incumbent Orlando Lopez against the city’s Economic Development Corporation President Julian Joseph Rios; Place 5 trustee Rudy Corona against one-time city mayor and former afterschool program coordinator for the district Jack Garcia; board President Ramiro Moreno against retired school district police officer Alex Reyna for Place 6; and Place 7 incumbent Frutoso Gomez against former trustee Michael Vargas.

Gina Cano-Monreal faces Lorraine De Leon-Galarza for the Place 1 seat on the Harlingen school board. Cano-Monreal is an administrator and De Leon-Galarza is a retired registered nurse.

A man walks past a sign directing voters to the early voting polling location Tuesday, May 2, 2023, outside the San Benito Community Building. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Place 2 is being vacated by Javier DeLeon, leaving First Community Bank Vice President Ricky Leal and UTRGV professor Israel Aguilar vying for the post.

The Port Isabel-San Benito Navigation District accounted for the second-most early voting tally of the local entities in Cameron County with 2,488. The San Benito city races attracted 1,588 early voters to polls.

Other elections, including the Point Isabel, Rio Hondo and Santa Rosa school districts as well as La Feria, Combes and Los Indios municipal contests collected in the hundreds of votes, with no more than 543 (Rio Hondo ISD) and no less than 119 (Los Indios).

Election day for these races is Saturday. Polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include the tallies for the final day of early voting, Tuesday, May 2, 2023.