|HARLINGEN, April 6 - The first televised political debate in the Rio Grande Valley this election season takes place on Sunday on KMBH-TV, the public broadcasting network.
The debate is between Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell and his challenger, Rick Morales. It airs at 9 a.m. on Sunday and the moderator is veteran TV show presenter Ron Whitlock. The show was taped a couple of weeks ago.
“I would have to say this was one of the most engaging candidate forums we have ever done,” Whitlock told the Guardian. “The candidates were going head to head, back and forth for a good part of the forum. I would encourage everybody to watch, especially if you are a voter in the city of Harlingen.”
Many political analysts say Boswell-Morales is the marquee race in the Valley this election season. Boswell’s motto is: ‘Momentum, Momentum, Momentum.’ Morales’ motto is: “We Can Do Better.” Harlingen is the sixth largest city in the Valley.
Whitlock said the debate will be of interest to Valley residents generally, not just those living in Harlingen.
“Anybody who is interested in the political process, anywhere in the Rio Grande Valley should tune in on Sunday. They will enjoy it. It is a real learning experience to see how two dedicated individuals who want to serve as mayor of a large community here in the Valley exhibit to potential voters what policies they plan to implement if elected,” Whitlock said.
Whitlock made his debut as a TV reporter in 1969, having previously been in radio. He took over as the presenter of Valley Newsline on KRGV-TV in 1999. At the end of the Boswell-Morales debate, Whitlock says on air: “This has been so entertaining we may have to have Round 2.” Asked if there could be a second debate, Whitlock said: “If you tune in you may well agree that the potential for a Round 2 has to exist. It was a great forum to be involved in.”
The Rotary Club of Harlingen has offered to host a debate between Boswell and Morales. However, Morales has said he will only agree to participate if Boswell debates him at a venue on Harlingen’s west side. This is traditionally the Mexican-American side of Harlingen.
Election Day is May 11. Early voting runs from April 29 to May 7.
Meanwhile, KMBH has announced it is hosting a town hall forum titled “Mental Health and Its Effect on our Youth.” The event takes place in UT-Brownsville’s Set B Lecture Hall on Wednesday, April 10, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The forum will start with the showing of a 32-minute documentary called “A Reason to Live.” The film, produced by PBS, is intended to help eliminate the stigma and shame associated with depression and suicide.
“Our goal is to raise awareness, discover and provide information and resources that are available to our youth and parents dealing with mental illness,” said KMBH President and CEO Robert Gutierrez. He said the forum will be taped for rebroadcast on KMBH PBS on April 18.
The panelists are Dr. Eugenia Curet, a UTB clinical associate professor, Dr. Dan Gutierrez, a psychiatrist at Texas Tropical Behavioral Health, Becky Tresnicky, a behavioral health director at Valley Baptist Health System, and Brownsville psychiatrist Dr. Francisco Torres. The moderator is Dr. Joseph McCormick.
Limited food and refreshments will be available. For more information about the town hall forum call (956) 421-4111.