San Juan city hopefuls launch bids for open seats

SAN JUAN — Both open seats on the city commission here will be contested this spring after a fifth candidate filed for a spot on the May 4 ballot late Friday, just 10 minutes before the filing deadline.

Erasmo “Eddie” Garcia, 60, is running for the Place 4 seat currently held by Commissioner Leonardo “Lenny” Sanchez, who is seeking a second term.

Now retired, Garcia previously served as San Juan fire chief and once sat on the Economic Development Corporation board, according to Monitor archives. He has not returned a request for comment as of Wednesday afternoon.

Sanchez, 43, was elected in January 2018 to fill the remainder of Raudel Maldonado’s term after Maldonado stepped down to run for county treasurer. An investigator with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office, Sanchez said he wasn’t expecting someone to challenge his seat.

“Everybody has a right to run and I respect the gentleman that filed,” he said, adding it would be up to citizens to decide based on the candidates’ “different mentalities and different visions.”

In addition to continuing to “build and improve the infrastructure of San Juan,” Sanchez said he wants to ensure city resources are managed “more effectively.”

Sanchez is running on the “United for San Juan” slate with Marco “Markie” Villegas, who filed for the Place 5 seat held by Pedro “Pete” Garcia.

Garcia, 60, was the first of the five candidates to file for re-election, doing so Jan. 17, the second day of the filing period.

An account manager for a meat company, Garcia said he would prioritize bringing new businesses to the city if elected to a second term.

Garcia also faces a challenger from Fernando Castillo, another early filer who submitted his ballot application Jan. 23. Castillo, 65, a former Progreso school district superintendent who runs a consulting firm focused on education, said he was motivated to run because he sees “the same political players” and “same political ideas” on the five-member city commission.

This is the first election in which Sanchez is part of a slate, and he said he selected Villegas as a running mate given their longtime friendship and Villegas’ qualifications, which Sanchez described as an undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s in public administration — both from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Villegas, 43, is a teacher for the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district, where his father serves on the board. In a campaign news release, he said, he wants “to focus on utilizing our resources effectively so that we can invest in our city’s future by investing in economic development.”

Early voting begins April 22 and Election Day is May 4.

Previous coverage:

San Juan commissioner faces 2 challengers in May