Two of four seats on Pharr commission to be contested

PHARR — Two women who describe themselves as “moms on a mission” are trying to shake up the political establishment here, filing late Friday for two of the four open seats on the city commission in the May election.

Daniela Zuniga and Lorena Singh filed for the Place 1 and 6 commissioner seats, respectively, and are running as a slate.

“It’s money versus passion and dedication,” Singh, a social worker, said. “It’s going to be the political machine against normal, everyday working women.”

Zuniga, 40, will face incumbent Eleazar Guajardo, 54.

“I feel that there needs to be women who can have their voice at the table … who want to bring new ideas to the city,” Zuniga, an insurance agent said. “Lorena and I are a great match. We sat on the Parks and Recreation board together… I think her and I together can build a better Pharr.”

Guajardo, a retired teacher who worked for Valley View Independent School District, was first elected to the Place 1 seat in 2015 as a member of Mayor Dr. Ambrosio “Amos” Hernandez’s “Pharr Forward” slate.

“The progress achieved in our city during the last four years has been transformative,” Guajardo said via text message late Friday. “I am fortunate to have been part of this effort. It’s my intention to continue contributing to the forward momentum of our city.”

Hernandez, 51, a pediatric surgeon, is running unopposed for a second term as mayor.

Place 5 Commissioner Ricardo Medina, another member of the 2015 “Pharr Forward” slate, will also be running unopposed. The 67-year-old retired medical laboratory director has been a fixture in Pharr politics, serving as a commissioner during three different stints going back to the 1990s, according to Monitor archives.

Singh, 48, is vying for the seat currently occupied by Place 6 Commissioner Mario A. Bracamontes, who did not file for a second term in office. Bracamontes was elected in 2015 as part of the “Pharr First” slate

When asked why he decided not to seek re-election, Bracamontes, who also serves as principal of Buell Central High School in Pharr, said via a facetious text message: “I am going on tour with AC/DC and Motley Crew” and “I don’t have time to file because I got to rehearse my vocals for backup to Vince Neal.”

He insisted the flippant remark appear in the paper when reached by phone.

Singh took the election more seriously.

“I know the needs of the citizens of Pharr and I think I will do a great job representing all areas of Pharr,” Singh said.

Another woman, Itza Flores, also filed Friday for the Place 6 seat.

Flores, 51, said she needed to speak to her attorney when asked whether she was running independently or as part of a slate. Her $1,000 filing fee, however, was paid for by the Pharr Forward SPAC, which also covered the fee for Hernandez, Medina and Guajardo.

Listing her occupation on her ballot application as a director of special ed, Flores did not specify where she is employed when asked.

The mayor was on hand at the city clerk’s office while the incumbents and newcomers filed their ballot applications Friday afternoon, but he declined to comment on his candidacy until his campaign launch.

Lupe Chavez Jr., a Las Milpas activist who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2010, submitted an application Friday morning to run for mayor — making him the first person to file for the May election — but the city clerk rejected it on account of Chavez not paying the $1,000 filing fee.

Early voting runs from April 22-30 with Election Day on May 4.

Monitor staff writer J. Edward Moreno contributed to this report.

This story has been updated to provide more details about a candidate’s slate.