Pharr Mayor Dr. Ambrosio “Amos” Hernandez

Pharr mayor sets the matter to rest: He won’t run for county judge Decision clears way for Richard Cortez?

Will Pharr Mayor “Amos” Hernandez run for Hidalgo County judge, or won’t he?

In the world of Hidalgo County politics, rife with chisme (gossip), that’s been one of the questions being discussed ever since longtime County Judge Ramon Garcia announced earlier this year that he will retire from public office when his current term ends at the end of 2018.

This week, Hernandez made his decision final and public: He will not run for Hidalgo County judge.

In the meantime, the question remains: who will mount a campaign to replace Garcia? Only two people so far have announced their intention to run for the judge’s office:

Former County Judge Eloy Pulido (pulidoforhidalgocountyjudge.compulidoforhidalgocountyjudge.com), who has also served as county clerk, has formally announced his intention to run in the Democrat Primary. So, too, has Jane Cross, a small business owner and former educator, who will run as a Republican.

Earlier this month, news was made public that a committee had been formed – Friends of Richard Cortez Hidalgo County Judge Exploratory Committee – to determine the level of support the former McAllen mayor and current McAllen city commissioner would have if indeed he filed to run.

Publicly, Cortez had said he isn’t yet a candidate, but the 20-person committee formed in his name is working to determine the level of support he might have should he choose to file before the December filing deadline passes.

Now that Hernandez has said he is not a candidate for county judge, however, Richard Cortez clarified this week his position:

“When Judge Garcia announced that he wasn’t going to run for re-election, I think there was a list of 15 potential candidates (being passed around), and my name was not on it. I started to get calls from friends and supporters asking me if I’d consider running for county judge. I told them, ‘Thank you for your support, but I respect Mayor (Amos) Hernandez; I consider him a friend and a talented leader; and if he wants the job, I’m not going to run.’ ”

Still, having an exploratory committee sorting out the landscape should Hernandez not run, which has indeed proven to be the case, wasn’t a bad idea, looking at it now in hindsight.

“If you said to me, ‘I’ll give you a million dollars to name the 20 people on the committee,’ I couldn’t do it,” said Cortez. “I only know two of them; one being Elva (Cerda, who is named as the campaign treasurer for the committee).”

Since Pharr Mayor “Amos” Hernandez is now no longer in the mix, so to speak, Cortez said this week that he is now going to seriously consider running for county judge.

“Since my wife passed away (2015),” said Cortez, “(after being married for so many years, enduring the loneliness that comes after losing someone with whom I’ve been together for so many years, and was the love of my life), I find that I’d rather go to a meeting instead of an empty home.”

Granted, Cortez, 73, is a current McAllen city commissioner (District 1), and still works as a CPA (part-time now), so he’s not exactly sitting idle; but the job of serving as county judge, should he win election, would include more hours, more meetings devoted to public service. In other words, he’d be busier than he already is if elected county judge.

“Since the committee was formed, I have been blessed by so many calls from people (saying they would support him); I’m just grateful,” he said.

Hernandez Won’t Run

In a press release sent out Tuesday, Pharr Mayor “Amos” Hernandez laid out his reasons for choosing not to run for county judge:

“As you may be aware, earlier this year a group of supporters established an exploratory committee to determine the feasibility of me seeking elected office as Hidalgo County judge.

“Over these last few weeks, the committee met with political influencers in communities across Hidalgo County, all who expressed their support for my potential candidacy.

“From east to west, and from the border to the county line north of Edinburg, I am humbled and appreciative of the encouragement from elected officials from all local levels, including our county judge and commissioners, other county officials, mayors, council members, commissioners, and school board trustees all across Hidalgo County. Thank you for believing in me and my ability to serve the citizens of our great Hidalgo County as county judge.

“After careful consideration and much deliberation with my loved ones, colleagues, and mentors, I have made the decision that, while I am grateful and appreciative of the incredible outpouring of support, there is no better time and no better opportunity than now to continue the work I have begun as Mayor of Pharr.

“My heart is in my hometown.

“I still have much to accomplish here in Pharr. We have big dreams to achieve, major projects to accomplish, and even more opportunities on the horizon.

“For example:”

• This year, we are about to

lower taxes for the second

straight year, fulfilling a

promise made by our city

commission and providing

again some financial relief

to our taxpaying citizens.

• Our international bridge

continues to be a regional,

national and international

economic driving force,

bolstering trade, commerce, and activity, and we

need to continue helping to

influence national policy

regarding homeland security, border issues, international trade and commerce

while protecting our environment.

• With the help of our state legislators, we recently were successful in securing $150 million in transportation funding to expand our Pharr interchange. This project will spur economic activity for the entire region by increasing the speed and decreasing the time for goods and services to reach their destinations. It is only by nurturing close partnerships and positive relationships with our state leaders and decision makers that we are able to successfully compete for state funding for our local projects, and I am proud to continue representing Pharr and the entire Rio Grande Valley on projects of regional importance to our transportation needs.

• We are taking a business-savvy approach to municipal government, and coming up with innovative solutions to tackle and address our capital needs in a responsible manner. You will hear more about this in the future, but suffice it to say that Pharr will continue to grow and improve over the next few years.

• As chair of the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization, our influence in moving transportation projects in our city has previously been unprecedented. Our ability to work regionally with our neighboring communities on projects that benefit us as a unified region has helped us to inject an increase in road projects and transportation improvements that would have otherwise taken years to begin. I want to thank my fellow colleagues and representatives on the MPO for their assistance.

“It is for these and other reasons that I have made the decision to not run for county judge… at this time.

“As mayor, our citizens deserve my full attention to see things through to completion, and I will continue to be the leader Pharr residents elected me to be and one which our Pharr families can be proud to have elected.”

This does not preclude any aspirations for higher office that I may seek in the near future, but right now I am committed to the citizens and families of the great city of Pharr and to finishing the great work we started.

Thank you.

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