Former Monitor editor named county spokesman

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez hired a former Monitor editor as his new spokesman after his former spokeswoman asked to be transferred last year.

Carlos Sanchez, who served as editor in chief for the Monitor from 2013 to 2018, made the announcement via social media Monday night, telling friends and family he was leaving journalism after nearly four decades in the industry.

“There’s a sadness to it,” he said Tuesday. “I’ve been in the career for 37 years, but there’s also an excitement. My last newsroom would have been my 10th newsroom. I’ve lived in at least half a dozen cities, and this move, for the first time, makes me feel like I’m planting roots in a community.”

Sanchez most recently worked as senior editor for Texas Monthly and played an integral part in the opening and staffing of the publication’s South Texas bureau in August 2019.

As Public affairs division manager, Sanchez will take over the responsibilities Julia Sullivan previously held. He will act as the county’s spokesman and will be charged with developing a communications strategy.

“ I’m excited about the opportunity to help Hidalgo County develop a unified voice at a time when there seems to be so much economic opportunity looming on the horizon,” he said.

Sullivan will now serve as public information specialist III under the direction of the county’s executive office. She requested the transfer in a letter addressed to Cortez Dec. 30, the same day Hidalgo County Commissioners approved the creation of the post.

“I understand the salary is less than I currently earn as manager of the Public Affairs Division in your office, however the position will allow me to focus on Public Information Requests, which is an area in which I excel,” she wrote. “Please know that I have enjoyed working for you and wholeheartedly support your priorities and initiatives.”

Sullivan addressed her request Tuesday.

“My decision to seek a transfer from a managerial role may have caught some people (by) surprise,” she said. “But it was my decision and Judge Cortez has been very supportive.”

The move came with a $20,000 reduction in pay, bringing her annual salary from about $75,000 to $55,000.

“ I did take a pay cut, but it also comes with less responsibility, and at this stage in my career, I look forward to slowing down the pace,” Sullivan said. “With Carlos in place, I’ll be able to move to the executive office and begin my new role. So I’m very happy about this.

“ I’m not ready to retire, but I’m ready to slow down.”

Cortez appeared satisfied with his new hire.

“I love the guy,” he said about Sanchez. “We publicized a need for a replacement, and I was very fortunate that at the time … Carlos was here in the Valley, and based on the other people that applied, we felt that Carlos had the superior qualifications.”

Cortez wasn’t sure how many people applied, but said three or four candidates had been interviewed.

Sanchez began serving in the new capacity Monday and will earn $75,000 per year. And though he just started, his new boss already has plenty of work lined up for him.

“I want everybody to be talking about the Census. The Census is extremely important,” the county judge said, noting it only comes once every 10 years. “So I want him to have a very aggressive campaign for that.”

nlopez@themonitor.com