MCALLEN, Texas – The three McAllen mayoral candidates that were knocked out of the race on May 1 have made up their minds on who they are backing in the runoff.

Dr. Shahid Rashid has endorsed Javier Villalobos. Michael Fallek and Othal Brand, Jr., are backing Veronica Vela Whitacre.

Villalobos secured 26 percent of the vote in the first election, while Vela Whitacre picked up 24 percent. Fallek was third with 23 percent. Brand came in fourth with 17 percent. And Rashid was supported by ten percent of the voters. Because none of the candidates won 50 percent plus one, a runoff was triggered with the top two vote-getters remaining in the race.

Both Vela Whitacre and Villalobos are sitting city commissioners. Vela Whitacre has held her seat for eight years, Villalobos for four. There is an opening for mayor because current Mayor Jim Darling announced he would not seek re-election. He will step down as mayor after the result of the June 5 runoff election is announced.

Asked if he was pleased to win the endorsement of Dr. Rashid, business owner and attorney Villalobos said:

“I always say, I want the support of whoever wants to support but I want the endorsement of the people. Fortunately, I got it when I was the top vote-getter. Now we have to go all over again and redo it. And I am ready to do it.”

Villalobos said he never seeks endorsements or gives endorsements. He said just because a losing candidate endorses another after their defeat, it does not mean that candidate’s supporters will follow suit.

“To think all the voters will follow the lead of their candidate belies the intelligence of people. They should base their decision on the candidate, what they know, not because somebody else tells them. That is why I have never sought endorsements or given endorsements. But when the people vote for you, that is an endorsement. So that is why I was very happy to be the top vote-getter.”

Villalobos said he is pleased with how the runoff campaign is going. He said he has not changed his approach from the first election.

“I hope I win the support of the voters of the other candidates but it is not automatic. They have to look at what we have done, what we have talked about. They are not going to vote for me just because Dr. Rashid tells them. But, if they have confidence in him, hopefully they will look at the forums we have done and our debates and see that I am the most qualified candidate.”

Asked what he thought of the decisions of Fallek and Brand to endorse Vela Whitacre, Villalobos said: “It is their prerogative. People have a right to do whatever they want to do. That is what I am saying. If they think she is more qualified to lead they city, well, they have the right to do it. I disagree with that in terms of qualifications and experience and skill but it is their prerogative to support or endorse whoever they want.”

Vela Whitacre is a former teacher who now runs a nonprofit organizations. Asked about the endorsements of Brand and Fallek, she said.

“I was very happy to hear Othal Brand and Michael Fallek want to endorse me and that they believe in me. I have to just to keep making a difference, through block walking and making sure everybody gets out to vote. I am ready.”

Vela Whitacre said she appreciates the efforts Fallek and Brand are making to ensure she wins.

“I know my friends, Othal Brand and Michael Fallek, are making individual calls. That makes me feel really good that I have those endorsements. I know that they believe in me and they know I am going to do a good job, that I am here for McAllen more than anybody else. I am very proud of the fact that I have all those endorsements,” Vela Whitacre said.

Asked if the momentum has grown since election day, Vela Whitacre said: “Yes I do. We are making every effort to make sure the voters come out and vote. We are making calls, we are sending texts. I have got mailers going out. It is teamwork and I am hoping that everybody that we are reaching out to…  I tell them, please make sure you call ten more people. To make sure they come and vote, too. It can make a huge difference in the end result.”

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