Four men have tossed their names in the hat for the upcoming election to find a new District 4 Weslaco City Commissioner.
With only one week for prospective candidates to file their applications in the special election to replace now-former District 4 Commissioner Gerardo “Jerry” Tafolla, four candidates have emerged after last Wednesday’s filing deadline: Humberto “Beto” Chavez, Adrian Farias, Jose Guadalupe “Lupe” Garcia and Roy Hernandez Jr.
Weslaco voters may recognize some of the candidates who are vying to replace Tafolla as two have sought public office before.
Most recently was Lupe Garcia, who ran against Tafolla in last November’s election. Garcia lost that race by just 154 votes.
“We wanted to get in there to make the change and give District 4 good representation and that’s why I took it upon myself to do it then because I felt that the change was needed,” Garcia said of his 2018 election bid.
Garcia currently serves as the director of transportation for the Weslaco school district. He has also served as parks director for both the city and Hidalgo County.
He said it’s precisely that experience that gives him an edge over his three opponents, pointing to the positive relationships he has forged with school district, city and county leaders.
“I don’t need to go in there and try to start working with them, I think I’ve been working with them already for the past 5, 6, 7 years,” Garcia said.
Voters may also recognize Adrian Farias, who ran an unsuccessful bid against David Suarez in the 2013 mayoral race.
Farias, who serves as the vice president of insurance of First Public, a subsidiary of the Texas Association of School Boards, said one of his primary goals should he win the July election will be working with the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco and the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce to bring more high-paying jobs to the area.
He spoke of how Rio Grande Valley professionals often leave the region in search of well-compensated employment. “I was in the same position before — leaving town to go look for jobs and work outside of the Valley. It takes a lot of toll on the family and I’ve seen it. You miss a lot of things,” Farias said.
Aside from his 2013 mayoral campaign run, Farias said he has not previously sought public office. He has, however, served as treasurer of the EDCW for one year.
“I want to continue to be a city on the grow,” he said.
Economic development was also a key talking point for the third candidate in the District 4 race, Humberto “Beto” Chavez.
Chavez, who has lived in the city for over four decades, said he has seen the city’s once bustling growth plateau. “We’ve got to bring back Weslaco to where it needs to be. I see us falling behind every town,” he said.
Chavez said he is familiar with the workings of local government thanks to his position on the board of the Hidalgo County Head Start. He said he hopes to use that experience and his desire to see more economic growth to restore trust between public officials and the residents they serve.
“They need someone to lead them. They need someone they can trust, someone that will fight for them and do what’s right for them, and not take from them,” Chavez said.
Rounding out the ballot is Roy Hernandez Jr., who works as an insurance agent.
Hernandez said he has never run for political office before, but felt compelled to do so after watching the events unfold which ultimately led to Tafolla’s resignation.
“There’s no trust right now,” Hernandez said. “So, I was like, you know what? … Let me step up and I’m gonna try and bring back that trust between the politician and the citizens.”
For Hernandez, addressing the city’s ongoing drainage issues are one of his top priorities.
Early voting by personal appearance will begin Monday, July 1 and end Friday, July 12.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Monday, July 1; Friday, July 12; and Election Day — Tuesday, July 16.
For the rest of early voting, July 2-3 and July 5-11, polls will be open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
City leaders still do not know if polls will be open on Sunday, July 7; however, they will be closed on Thursday, July 4 for Independence Day.
This story has been updated to correct early voting hours.