San Benito cooking hot elections as Cruz-Vela faces ex-superintendent

A woman walks to the entrance of the polling location Saturday, May 6, 2023, on election day for the municipal and SBCISD Board of Trustees election at the San Benito Community Building in San Benito. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)
Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

SAN BENITO — On San Benito’s fiery political stage, the May 4 election’s shaping up like a scorcher, with Theresa Servellon, the school district’s past superintendent, challenging Ariel Cruz-Vela, a leader in the board of trustees’ new majority, for her seat on the school board.

Servellon, a consultant who resigned in September, months after voters shifted the board’s balance of power, filed to run against Cruz-Vela for her Place 1 position.

Cruz-Vela, a pharmacist who first won office in 2021, serves as the board’s vice president and a leader of its new majority.

In the race for the board’s Place 2 seat, incumbent Mario Silva, a sales representative, faces former board member Victor Eloy Rosas, a retired firefighter, and Crystal Hernandez, a Harlingen school district administrator.

In the election’s Place 3 contest, incumbent Oscar Medrano faces Israel “Buddy” Villarreal III, a Navy veteran and business owner.

In a separate election, two seats are open on the San Benito City Commission after Carol Lynn Sanchez, an attorney who first won election in 2017, decided to vacate her seat to run for the state District 37 House seat held by first-term Republican Janie Lopez, a former school board member.

In the race to fill Sanchez’s Place 4 seat, former longtime Commissioner Rene Villafranco, who led the commission’s past majority before losing to Commissioner Debra Morales last year, faces Joe Navarro, a consultant.

In Place 3, Commissioner Pete Galvan is unopposed after serving more than three years on the board.

In November 2020, Galvan, a pharmacist who serves as the commission’s mayor pro tem, won an unexpired term which former Commissioner Rick Guerra had left open after he resigned to run for the mayor’s seat.

Then in May 2021, he won his first three-year term with a landslide victory over former Mayor Ben Gomez and a political newcomer.