McAllen mayoral candidates, from left, Othal Brand Jr., Michael Fallek, Dr. Shahid Rashid, Javier Villalobos, and Veronica Whitacre

The deadline to apply to be a candidate in the city of McAllen’s elections this May has passed with a total of 18 candidates set to appear on the ballot for a place on the city commission.

To fill the vacancy left by Mayor Jim Darling, who announced in December that he would not be running for reelection, six candidates filed for his position including two current city commissioners, District 1 Commissioner Javier Villalobos, an attorney, and District 6 Commissioner Veronica Whitacre, executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, of Hidalgo County.

Running again for the mayor’s position is Othal Brand Jr., son of former Mayor Othal E. Brand Sr. who served as mayor from 1977 to 1997. Brand Jr. unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Darling in 2017.

Business owner Michael A. Fallek, who serves on the Texas Regional Bank Board of Directors and on the McAllen Planning and Zoning Commission, is also running for mayor as well as Dr. Shahid Rashid, a physician specializing in pain management.

Also running for mayor is Raul I. Cortina, a McAllen resident who said he did many things for a living and described himself as “the voice of people’s health and wealth.”

City commissioners are required to resign when they run for another elected position, however, Villalobos’ current term was already set to expire this year.

Villalobos’ was elected District 1 commissioner in 2018 to finish out the unexpired term of then-Commissioner Richard F. Cortez who resigned upon the launch of his successful bid for Hidalgo County judge.

Running for that seat this year are three candidates including businessman Timothy “Tim” Wilkins who ran against Villalobos for the District 1 seat in 2018.

Attorney Lucia “Lucy” Thompson, a partner at Palacios, Garza & Thompson, P.C., and businessman Antonio “Tony” Aguirre, owner of Riverside Development Services, L.L.C. and member of McAllen’s public utilities board who was also required to resign to run for city commissioner.

Because Whitacre’s seat was not set to expire this year, the city is holding a special election fill her position which has drawn five candidates.

Among them are McAllen Independent School District Trustee Larry Esparza and Jose R. “Pepe” Cabeza de Vaca, assistant chief of staff for Hidalgo County Commissioner David Fuentes.

A pair of businessmen, Andres Fernando Salinas and Andrew Perez are also running for the position as well as

Mayra Gutierrez, who said she is a licensed insurance agent and state director for Latinos for Trump, is also in the race for District 6 commissioner.

In the race for city commissioner District 2, current Commissioner Joaquin “J.J.” Zamora is running for re-election unopposed.

The race for District 3 is another competitive one with incumbent Julian Omar Quintanilla, senior vice president of Frost Bank, is running for re-election against two challengers — Thelma E. Tamez, an entrepreneur and founder of the RGV Census Ambassador Scholarship Program, and Mario Reyna, former dean of business, public safety and technology at South Texas College who has served on several community boards.

Election Day is May 1.

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Editor’s note: This story was updated to include candidates in the District 3 race.