Two vie for mayor in Weslaco

Weslaco mayoral candidates David Suarez, left, and Alfredo "Duff" Castañeda stand for a photo after a candidate forum Tuesday. Dina Arévalo |

Two men are seeking to become Weslaco’s next mayor as early voting kicked off Monday in the Mid-Valley.

Incumbent David Suarez, who was first elected mayor in 2013, is seeking another term this November; he is being challenged by Alfredo “Duff” Castañeda, a high school teacher of psychology, and government and economics.

A third man who also filed a candidate application to run for mayor this summer was subsequently disqualified from the race.

In a candidate forum held earlier this month, Suarez said he hopes to continue leading the city on its current track, where the city’s fund balance has been steadily improved, public safety and infrastructure needs have been prioritized, and the city’s economic development has grown.

“We need to ask ourselves, are we better off today than we were six years ago? We think so,” Suarez said during the forum.

Castañeda, meanwhile, is focused on restoring the community’s trust in their local leaders, after a series of financial and criminal scandals involving former Weslaco public officials rocked the city. “My long term goal is to change the perception of local officials, and (gaining) the people’s trust is essential to improving relationships with municipal government,” Castañeda said at the forum.

To that end, Castañeda wants to spearhead an effort to implement term limits for elected officials, as well as a policy that would ban officials from dealing with the city to their own personal gain.

A third candidate who hoped to run for mayor, Alberto Cedeno, was disqualified in August, after the city determined his voter registration did not meet state deadline requirements, and that the address used to file the registration was outside city limits.

“(A) candidate must be a registered voter of the territory elected as of the filing deadline. This rule is distinct from any residency consideration,” Weslaco City Secretary Myra L. Ayala wrote Cedeno in an Aug. 26 letter notifying him of his ineligibility as a candidate.

Two other seats on the city commission are up for election this November, as well: the District 5 and 6 seats, though no candidates emerged to challenge the incumbents. As a result, District 5 Commissioner Leticia “Letty” Lopez and District 6 Commissioner Josh Pedraza will enjoy another three-year term on the commission.

Early voting kicked off Monday morning across Hidalgo County. With countywide voting available, Weslaco voters may cast their ballots at any available polling place. Voting in town will take place at the Weslaco Business Visitor and Event Center, 275 S. Kansas Ave.

Early voting polls will remain open now through Friday, Nov. 1 — including weekends.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday during the first week of early voting, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday during the second week of early voting. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls will remain open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. that day.