Hidalgo County residents who are not among the 187,893 who voted early are now one day away from casting their ballots in an election that’s divided the country on all but one point: this election is an important one.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, voters in Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy counties will join the rest of the nation as they head to the polls to have the final say in an election cycle that’s produced plenty of talking.
Thanks in large part to an early voting period being extended by six more days, Hidalgo County already surpassed the 176,160 ballots cast during the entirety of the 2016 general election.
Clearly, all eyes are on the presidential election with arguably the most hotly contested issue — that of COVID-19 — defining the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice-President Joe Biden. Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen and Green Party co-founder and candidate Howie Hawkins are also on the ballot for president.
The question facing voters is who they trust more to lead the country through a pandemic that has already killed more than 230,000 Americans, infected millions — 900,000 alone in Texas and tens of thousands in the Rio Grande Valley — and left the nation feeling the effects of isolation and social distancing to such a degree that many facets of American living have slowed to a near standstill.
The economy has been weakened, schooling is unrecognizable, racial unrest is pervasive, and national division grows more tense by the day — to say there’s much at stake Tuesday would be an understatement.
Perhaps the second biggest decision in Texas is the U.S. Senate race between 18-year incumbent and senior U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Democratic challenger Mary “MJ” Hegar.
Also, races at the state level include the railroad commissioner post pitting Republican James “Jim” Wright, Democrat Chrysta Castañeda, Libertarian Matt Sterett and Green Party candidate Katija “Kat” Gruene against each other. There are also four seats up for grabs on the state Supreme Court.
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, is seeking his second term for the District 15 congressional seat against Republican challenger Monica De La Cruz Hernandez.
Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra is seeking reelection on the Democratic ticket against Republican challenger Ezequiel “Zeik” Jurado.
Upper Valley school districts have much on their respective ballots to consider.
There are four seats up for election on the Edinburg CISD school board with races that are among the most contentious locally.
Incumbent Robert Peña looks to retain his Place 4 seat against challenger Luis “Louie” Alamia. In the Place 6 race, incumbent Carmen Gonzalez faces Ramiro Guerra. Incumbent Miguel “Mike” Farias and challenger John Rodriguez are vying for the Place 7 post.
Voters within the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district jurisdiction have four seats to decide upon.
Place 4 incumbent Jorge L. Zambrano faces challenger Heather Garza, while Jesus A. “Jesse” Zambrano attempts to retain his Place 5 position against Ruben Guajardo Jr. The Place 6 race has Victor Perez facing off against Jesse Vela Jr., while Celso Salinas and Cynthia A. Gutierrez seek to take the Place 7 post.
Mission CISD has four school board seats up for election.
Iris “Coach” Iglesias and Beto Garza are running for the Place 2 post, while incumbent Jerry Zamora is seeking to defend his Place 3 post against Sylvia Caratachea. Roy Vela is facing Oscar Martinez for Place 4, while incumbent Charlie Garcia III, Juan M. Gonzalez and Romeo C. González are on the ballot for the Place 5 seat.
The Sharyland school district has two school board seats up for consideration, while voters will also vote to approve two school bonds totaling $40 million.
Place 1 incumbent Ricky Longoria is defending his seat against three challengers: Jozabad “Jay” Palacios, Cesar Ramirez and Matthew Richter. Julio Cerda is seeking to retain his Place 2 seat against Alejandro Rodríguez.
Sharyland voters will decide whether to approve two propositions on the ballot: Proposition A asks for $34 million for additions and renovations for Sharyland High School, Sharyland Advanced Academic Academy (SA3), and John H. Shary Elementary; and Proposition B, which seeks $6 million to build a new headquarters facility for the district.
La Joya ISD voters are deciding four school board seats.
Place 4 incumbent Claudia Ochoa is being challenged by Leonora Garcia and Alda T. “Dr. B” Benavides. Place 5 incumbent Armin Garza is defending his seat against Anthony Uresti and Andie Lee “Dr.” Gonzalez. Place 6 incumbent Oscar “Coach” Salinas is looking to retain his seat against Irma Villarreal-Veloz and Pamela “Coach” Flores, and the Place 7 race sees Jerry “Chief” Alaniz, Alex Cantú and Norma Chapa vying for a seat on the school board.
Donna ISD’s school board has three seats up for election.
The Place 1 race has Jose L. Valdez and Richard Gaona facing off, while Fernando Castillo and Rafael Reyna are vying for Place 2. Jose Rogelio Reyna Jr. is facing Francisco “Paco” Sanchez for Place 3, and Eva Castillo Watts and Julian “Jay” Villarreal are on the ballot for the Place 4 seat.
Weslaco ISD’s school board has three seats up for election.
Longtime Place 1 trustee Erasmo “Moe” Lopez looks to retain his seat against Jesus “Coach Jesse” Treviño. Richard Rivera, also a longtime incumbent in Place 2, is not running for reelection, leaving it up for grabs between Oscar Caballero, Marcos De Los Santos and Paula Sanchez. Place 3 incumbent Patrick B. Kennedy faces Jacklyn “Jacky” Muñoz Sustaita.
There are several city elections voters will decide on as well.
In Donna, Mayor Rick Morales seeks another term in office as he is being challenged by Ernest Lugo. Place 1 incumbent councilman Oscar Gonzalez faces challenger Richie Moreno, while David Moreno is challenging Place 3 incumbent councilman Arturo Castillo.
The city of Weslaco has three propositions on the ballot: Proposition A would allow the city commission to redraw district lines and reduce the current six districts to four and, if approved, the six-member commission would change to four city councilmen and two at-large members; Proposition B would raise the service time of mayors and commissioners from three-year terms to four years; and Proposition C proposes limiting commissioners to no more than 12 consecutive years of service.
A charger amendment in Edcouch asks voters to consider changing the length of mayoral and board of aldermen terms from two years to four.
There’s another mayoral race in the Upper Valley as Mercedes voters will decide between Oscar D. Montoya and Israel Coronado after incumbent Henry Hinojosa decided not to seek reelection.
This is in addition to the race for Place 1 commissioner pitting incumbent Leo Villarreal against Melissa “Melly” Rincon, Velda J. Garcia and Jacob C. Howell, and Place 3 being between Ramon Mejia and Miguel A. Loya.