BY RICARDO ‘RIC’ GODINEZ
As my term as chairman of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party (HCDP) comes to an end, I am compelled to remind all Hidalgo County residents and Democratic voters that our party is stronger than ever, and has worked hard to achieve positive change for our community. That hard work can quickly be forgotten by recent headlines and letters to the editor regarding recent events, especially when it is used to promote political change in one of the bluest counties in Texas. In reality, there has never been a better time to be a Hidalgo County Democrat!
In 2014, the HCDP was tasked with choosing a candidate to help restore trust in the largest law enforcement agency south of San Antonio. The HCDP stepped up and developed a process that was open, fair, transparent and deliberate, and which gave us Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra. Sheriff Guerra understood his important role and delivered. He is not only a great sheriff, but he has worked hard to restore trust within his department and the public, at large.
Unfortunately, just four years later, the HCDP is called upon once again to do the same with our judiciary. I have no doubt that Chair-Elect Norma Ramirez and the incoming precinct chairs will equally appreciate the great responsibility before them, and will deliver and restore trust in our court system. A democracy, and the rights it bestows, is only as strong as its honest, open and fair court system; free of predetermined outcomes or preferential participants. If this is as important to you as it is to me, you are encouraged to contact your HCDP and precinct chair to let them know.
HCDP, along with our Democratic candidates, has worked hard in regards to one of its core functions: Getting out the Vote (GOTV.) Not only did we shatter the record for total votes cast in 2016, but we were the top early-voting county in Texas in 2014 and 2018, and were second in 2016. Most importantly, we elected Democrats across the board in county and regional races! Many thanks to all who worked hard to achieve that and who voted and are part of those important records. You all are part of history and should be proud!
And in conjunction with many community partners, like the Hidalgo County Elections Department, AACT-NOW, Hidalgo County Commissioners, Democratic groups and clubs, and even the Hidalgo County Republican Party, we have made voting easier and more accessible by creating voting centers for Election Day. Now, just like early voting, there are 75 polling locations throughout Hidalgo County on Election Day where voters can cast their ballot. This is a positive thing that all Hidalgo County residents and voters, regardless of your political affiliation, benefit from and can be proud of!
But there is much more work to be done. Our voting numbers across Hidalgo County must be improved. It not only does tremendous good and is necessary for a vibrant democracy for everyone to vote, but civic par-ticipation also brings recognition and much needed resources to Hidalgo County. If there is anything I have learned as a candidate, elected official, Democratic activist, and party official, it’s that elected officials everywhere pay much attention to two things: Money and votes (and not necessarily in that order.)
I am extremely excited to see what Chair-Elect Ramirez and the incoming precinct chairs do for GOTV, and I issue a friendly “challenge” for them to break the records and high bar the HCDP has set! I have no doubt they will endeavor to do so and meet that challenge, and I will do everything I can to help them.
Thank you to all who gave me the opportunity to serve the Democratic Party and Hidalgo County, and who worked hard to achieve our successes! A special thanks to all the precinct chairs these past four years who worked so hard to reach these goals! It has been one of the greatest privileges bestowed upon me, and truth be told, I am going to miss it.
But most of all: Go vote!