Nedra Kinerk
Nedra Kinerk

McALLEN, RGV – The first candidate forum for the Congressional District 15 primary races has been announced.

Futuro McAllen/Futuro Now will host the event at the McAllen Public Library on Tuesday, January 19, 2016, between 6 and 8 p.m. Doors open at 5:30. News Talk 710 KURV presenter Davis Rankin will be the moderator.

There are seven Democrats and three Republicans vying for the open CD 15 seat. The seat is open because longtime Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, has announced he is not seeking re-election.

The seven Democratic Party candidates are Dolly Elizondo, Vicente Gonzalez, Juan ‘Sonny’ Palacios, Johnny ‘J.P.’ Partain, Joel Quintanilla, Ruben Ramirez, and Randy Sweeten. The three Republican Party candidates are Xavier Salinas, Ruben O. Villarreal, and Tim Westley.

In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian about the forum, Futuro McAllen President Nedra Kinerk said her group has never endorsed political candidates.

Asked why Futuro is putting on a candidate’s forum, Kinerk said: “Futuro McAllen offers voters the opportunity to learn about the candidates and their position on issues affecting our district, our Valley, and our country.”

Asked why Futuro is focusing on Congressional District 15, Kinerk said: “The Congressional District 15 race is of vital importance to the recognition, protection, and growth of our Valley.”

Asked what she hoped attendees would get from the forum, Kinerk said: “Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the large field of Democratic and Republican candidates and their positions on issues that affect all of us. An impartial media panel and a Futuro citizen representative will conduct the questioning.”

Kinerk added that Futuro members may send suggested questions to Rankin or herself. Rankin’s email address is: [email protected] Kinerk’s email address is: [email protected] She said a final determination on which questions to ask will be left to the media panel.

“Yvonne Ramon of the Hidalgo County Election Department has been invited to have a table at the Forum to provide information and to register voters. Voters will have the opportunity to speak with candidates following the forum and obtain their campaign materials.”

While Futuro McAllen is the first to announce a CD 15 forum there are bound to be many others. Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair Ric Godinez said recently that he had approached KRGV Channel 5 about a live debate on TV, possibly to be staged at the Pharr Events Center.