Election spurs four heated races; 11 candidates vie for four school board

SAN BENITO — The city’s rival political factions are packing a ballot boasting 11 candidates in the bitterly contested May 2 election for five school board seats.

The crowded field squares off amid recent political battles over hot topics – including a $40 million bond issue, the firing of long-time after-school program Director Jack Garcia and board President Anthony Vargas’ resignation coming after his suspension from office in a precedent-setting court case.

The city has contracted the Cameron County Elections Department to run the election.

Elections Administrator Remi Garza estimated the city’s cost at $35,970.

Place 4

Nearly a year after his firing, Garcia, a former city mayor, is back in the political ring, facing board President Orlando Lopez, a radiology director, in the race for the board’s Place 4 seat.

Place 5

Meanwhile, incumbent M.L. Garcia, a retired teacher who is Garcia’s aunt, squares off with Rudy Corona, an AT&T technician, in the race for Place 5.

Place 1

In the race for Place 1, Baldemar Olivarez, a retired law enforcement officer who replaced Vargas in December, faces Anna Garza Llanes, a home mortgage consultant.

Place 7

After spearheading a petition drive that led to Vargas’s suspension on the grounds of intoxication, Janie Lopez, a counselor, spars with Santiago Sanchez, general manager for a John Deere dealership.

Place 6

In the race for Place 6, incumbent Victor Rosas, a retired firefighter, faces Joseph Galarza, a general contractor, and Ramiro Martin Moreno, a Rio Hondo school district principal.

The election’s early voting period runs from April 20 through April 28.