Edinburg – After being elected three times as Hidalgo County Judge, Ramon Garcia has finally decided to give up the gavel. Garcia had cited interest in returning to law full time as primary reason to not seek a re-election bid. Despite Garcia’s intent on whether to run, a slew of established challengers hovered from above, seeking their own bid on a highly coveted position.
Moments after Garcia announced he was not seeking re-election, Eloy Pulido, who served as County Judge from 1999 to 2003 threw his 10-gallon hat into the ring. Pulido’s interest in the position came as no surprise, as he was politically posturing throughout the fall of 2016. Speculation began to run rampant as to who else would seek the Judgeship.
Names such as Arturo Guadardo Jr, the County Clerk, who had expressed interest in the past year, but has since cooled on the prospects, were being thrown around. Other (rumored) interested parties include County Commissioner Joseph Palacios, and the Mayor of Pharr, Ambrosio Hernandez.
If the above names fail to illicit any enthusiasm and confidence in your mind, don’t be alarmed, for you are not alone. Voter confidence in our county elected officials have no doubt been shaken due to most of the County Commissioners supporting the disastrous Health Care Taxing District, and the fumbling cost of the new County Courthouse project.
Pulido has sought to address these concerns. For one, Pulido was against the creation of a Health Care Taxing District, both in 2014, and 2016, and had expressed his opinion on various post, including questioning appraisal methods in different counties and how it relates to property taxes on one of Valley Deltas post late last year.
Pulido’s official re-election campaign site has his official position on how to address the healthcare issue in the Rio Grande Valley, which includes lobbying for Tobacco Settlement funds, and the expansion of Medicaid to name a few. Pulido’s campaign has released an expanded platform on his official campaign site.
Pulido definitely has the organization and the funding. With 13 months until the Democratic Primary, Pulido is letting rivals know that he is serious on being Judge. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to drive along any corner of Edinburg-McAllen-Mission metro area and not already see an “Eloy Pulido for County Judge 2018” sign. Perhaps with an organization this fast out of the gate, other potential rivals decided not starting the race was the best finish.
Pulido’s candidacy is not without its controversy. The voters that I have discussed with, regarding Pulido’s campaign, are concerned by the political baggage he carries from nearly a quarter life devoted to political office, or in pursuit of political office. Prior to being County Judge, Mr. Pulido held the County Clerk position, as well as holding the Edinburg CISD School Board President, and ran unsuccessfully for County Judge against Ramon Garcia in 2010.
If there is any other candidate that may pose a serious challenge to Mr. Pulido, that candidate would be the current Mayor of Pharr, Ambrosio Hernandez. Officially, Hernandez has yet to place his name in the hat, however rumblings suggest an announcement may be forthcoming. Backed by the extensive network and capital of local real estate magnate Alonzo Cantu, Hernandez could well match the organization of Mr. Pulido, despite the head start Mr. Pulido has enjoyed so far.
Hernandez’s campaign would not be without its own challenges. Hernandez was one of the most prominent supporters of Proposition 1, going a far to stump for the proposition during a Futero McAllen debate late last fall. The Proposition ultimately went on to be defeated by 75% of voters during the General Election, essentially putting the proposition on ice for the foreseeable future.
Then there’s the question of ulterior motives, and conflict of interest if Mr. Hernandez were to run. Hernandez is a Chairman for Border Health Pac, as well as holding interest in Doctors Hospital at Renaissance(DHR). Of all organizations that stood to benefit most from Proposition 1, DHR stood at the top.
That being said, would Mr. Hernandez administer with the best interest of Hidalgo County citizens, or would decisions made while judge serve to further expand the interest of DHR Medicempire? Just as important, would Hernandez attend Commissioner Court meetings dressed in scrubs? We’ll have to find out. Until then, Hernandez continues to keep media and supporters in suspense on a potential run, but expect some official statement soon.
An other name being tossed is County Commissioner Joseph Palacios of the Palacios political family of Edinburg. Similar to Mayor Hernandez, Palacios has not officially declared himself in the running, however, from what was gathered from sources within the county, a reorganization is occurring within his office that would see him take a reduced role, but still have the precinct office run effectively in is absence.
Palacios could have the network, through both his Commissioner organization and through family connections to mount a serious challenge to either of the aforementioned candidates. However, questions remain on whether the Palacios name maintains the political muscle it once had in years past.
Last year, Juan “Sonny” Palacios was obliterated by Vicente Gonzalez during a highly contested U.S. Representative race for District 15, placing a big L on the column for the Palacio’s family. It’s uncertain on whether voters want to see an other Palacios name on a campaign sign anytime soon. Perhaps Palacio’s fatigue is starting to set in.
The above names are just speculation on who may run on the Democratic Primary. Things appear to be quiet out on the Republican front. I emailed a representative of the Hidalgo County Republican Party and inquired as to whether the GOP will field a candidate for County Judge. However, I have yet to receive a response.
Non the less, you can’t help but feel that what or who is being proposed for County Judge leaves more to be desired. It would appear that year after year, the same familiar names descending from political dynasties all take their turns hopping in and out political office. Distrust of our political officials is likely at an all time high, this especially true after the City of Edinburg Council debacle.
Voters shouldn’t have to become complacent with the same ol’ same ol’ bull pen of candidates. The times have changed, and the ability to get the truth out there whether good or bad, through technology and social networking is having affect on the way we see issues, and political officials. A few key individuals, along with concerned grass-roots organizations were able to over-come and defeat the combined efforts of Alonzo Cantu and his business empire, UTRGV, LUPE, The Catholic Church, The Monitor, countless Mayors and State Representatives receiving Border Health Pac contributions, and an array hired politiqueros, during the Prop 1 information war. Now imagine what can be done if the same energy was directed at electing honest leaders, and removing self-serving officials? Big things, I would imagine.
I believe Mr. Ned Sheats, from Mission, TX, in his letter to The Monitor summed it up best regarding voter sentiment in the Rio Grande Valley
“Moving forward, he should be thanked for announcing so early. Possibly we can find someone who is not “connected” to the developers or construction companies, existing or past county or city government, the hospitals, or any school board. Basically we need a candidate who doesn’t “play the game” and is free of the white Stetson disease.”
There clearly is an interest from someone not of the establishment. The question is, who would fit the criteria as someone the voters can trust to do the right thing?