Where, when and how to vote in the May election in the Rio Grande Valley
Election Day: Saturday, May 6
WHAT TO BRING
A valid ID. Acceptable forms of ID include:
- Texas Driver License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
- Texas Handgun License issued by DPS
- United States Military Identification Card containing the person’s photograph
If you don’t have a valid photo ID, here are other options.
WHAT'S ON THE BALLOT?
Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, a pediatric and bariatric surgeon, is running for re-election. He faces challenges from Ricardo Pedraza, former president of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, and Andy Harvey, a former city manager and police chief.
The Hernandez administration created a broadband internet service after installing a brand new fiber optic cable. It also unveiled plans for a new $14.3 million freestanding clinic and emergency room.
It also purchased a bankrupt EMS company to establish a city-run Pharr EMS. The medical entity serves Pharr, and it served rural Hidalgo County until last year, when it severed its contract with the county and laid off forty employees, citing a lack of support. This left the county with little time to find a replacement. Both Harvey and Pedraza criticized this move. They said it only benefits the local physician-run health system, DHR Health.
This is Harvey's first run for mayor. He resigned as police chief and city manager in 2022 after Ed Wylie, the deputy city manager, filed a complaint against him. According to Wylie, Harvey lashed out at him over a check request to the point Wylie “feared for his safety, physical well-being and mental health.” An internal investigation found that Harvey violated policy and recommended he resign. Harvey said the incident resulted from anger with the deputy city manager’s spending amid possible job cuts.
At a Futuro RGV forum, which Hernandez did not attend, Harvey called out Hernandez for covering up sexual harassment complaints against Wylie. During the forum, Harvey said he wants constituents to have more control over city expenses, like fiber broadband, which should be free for city residents. He believes the mayor has too much authority, lacks transparency and doesn’t incentivize new businesses to enter the city. Harvey wants to move toward private-public partnerships rather than the city running its own businesses.
Pedraza disagrees with the city’s financial decisions, including investing in broadband and Pharr EMS. He said he thinks both initiatives are redundant and unnecessary expenses.
Infrastructure improvements, particularly drainage, were important to both candidates. Harvey noted that it has been a constant grievance among Pharr residents. Both candidates support the expansion of the Pharr-Reynosa international Bridge.
McAllen Commission District 4
Rodolfo Castillo said he was running for re-election because there is still work to be done for the south side of McAllen. Xavier Salazar is a real estate agent who is making a second bid for the office. He said he's running again because he sees District 4 as “probably the most neglected in the city.”
District 4 consists of Southwest McAllen and includes McAllen International Airport.
Castillo replaced Tania Garcia last year after winning a runoff election against Pablo Hernandez. Salazar endorsed Castillo in the final race but now says that the district needs a heavier hand to address the neglect he sees in the area. Salazar specifically cited issues of drainage and safety — particularly speeding and racing. Castillo countered that drainage is better than ever and that traffic is a city-wide problem.
Castillo wants to continue working on alleys, streetlights and sidewalks. He wants to make city parks more inclusive. Salazar suggests that money is better used for a public golf course and questions the data Castillo cited to claim that McAllen is one of the safest cities in the nation. Salazar wants another police station in the district.
Both candidates agree that funding to their district is sufficient but Salazar believes in more oversight and redistribution of the funds.
Jessica Tetreau represents District 2 on the council and owns Car Wash Plus in Brownsville. First elected in 2011, she was the first female write-in candidate to win a city election in Texas. John Cowen is Brownsville’s at-large “A” commissioner and chairman of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. He is the president of Cowen Group LTD, a logistics company.
Erasmo Castro is a former Brownsville ISD school board trustee. He hosts a weekly live web show on Facebook discussing various topics about Brownsville. Jessica Stanton is a newcomer to Brownsville politics but has worked throughout the Rio Grande Valley in several businesses. On her application for mayor, she listed her occupation as self-employed.
After one term, Brownsville Mayor Juan “Trey” Mendez announced earlier this year he was not seeking re-election, citing mental and financial strain. Mendez is an attorney who owns a law practice, businesses and properties in Brownsville. He attracted the ire of activists and citizens throughout the Valley, who accused him of personally benefiting from SpaceX’s presence in the city.
Tetreau has felt the same criticism for her open support of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and his other business ventures.
Brownsville has seen a renewed interest from property developers, restaurateurs and space-oriented companies in the last few years as SpaceX’s facility at Boca Chica — and the company’s influence in the city — continues to grow. Space-themed businesses, new housing developments and more chain restaurants are enlarging Brownsville and raising the cost of living there.
Castro has unsuccessfully run for multiple Cameron County and Brownsville elections since he resigned from Brownsville ISD in the wake of a DWI charge. His large following on social media has attracted some supporters to a platform focused on “[wiping] clean” the city’s boards and committees and returning money from the failed Tenaska project to Brownsville residents.
Cowen touts his oversight of the Tenaska and Brownsville PUB audit as the Chairman of Brownsville’s Audit & Oversight Committee. Little information on Stanton’s campaign is available online, but her political signs around Brownsville read “corruption is not a career.”