MCALLEN, RGV – Futuro McAllen and Futuro RGV have announced three upcoming candidate forums.

Full details were ironed out a Futuro committee meeting held at Tony Roma’s in McAllen on Thursday.

Nedra Kinerk

Futuro McAllen will hold a forum at the McAllen Public Library Auditorium between 6:30 and 8 p.m. on Jan. 11. The forum will focus on the special election for McAllen City Commission District 1. The three candidates running for the position are Javier Villalobos, Tim Wilkins, and Joe Caporusso. All three have confirmed their participation in the forum.

Futuro RGV has two forums planned. Both forums will focus on contested March primary elections. The first takes place on January 23rd at the McAllen Convention Center. The races to be featured include Hidalgo County Judge, with candidates Richard Cortez and Eloy Pulido having confirmed their participation.

Other races to be featured at the Jan. 23rd forum are: Texas House District 41, with incumbent R.D. ‘Bobby’ Guerra and challenger Michael L. Pinkard, Jr., confirmed; Hidalgo County District Attorney, with incumbent Ricardo Rodriguez and challenger Rene Guerra confirmed; and Hidalgo County Clerk, with incumbent Arturo Guard, Jr., and challenger Rene Perez confirmed.

The second Futuro RGV candidate forum will take place on either Feb. 6 or Feb. 7, with the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance a possible venue.

The races to be featured at the second Futuro RGV event are: Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 4, which is being contested by incumbent Joseph Palacios and challenger Ellie Torres; 13th Court of Appeals, an open seat which is being contested by Dori Contreras and Ray Thomas; Hidalgo County Treasurer, an open seat which is being contested by Eloy Avila, Lita Leo, Raudel ‘Raudy’ Maldonado, and David Salazar, Jr.; 275th State District Court, an open seat which is bing contested by Marla Cuellar and Patricia ‘Patty’ O’Cana-Olivarez; Hidalgo County Court at Law, which is being contested by incumbent Arnoldo Cantu, Jr., and challenger Armando Marroquin, and Hidalgo County Probate Court, an open seat which is being contested by JoAnne Garcia and Fidencio Guerra, Jr.

All the candidates invited to attend the two Futuro RGV candidate forums are Democrats. There is nothing sinister in this, however, said Nedra Kinerk, president of Futuro McAllen and Futuro RGV. Kinberk explained that the forums are only featuring contested races. Republican candidates in these races do not have challenges and will automatically be on the ballot for the November general election. Kinerk said Futuro RGV will hold candidate forums for the November general election, featuring Republican and Democrat candidates, during the Fall.

“We are very excited about presenting some information that we think people need before they actually vote,” Kinerk told the Rio Grande Guardian. There are lot of things going on in our community and some of these will come out at these forums, I imagine.”

Asked why the forums are important, Kinerk said: “Why is it important? Why is it important to vote? Why is it important to vote when you don’t know what you are voting for or who you are voting for. We think that if we can provide some of the information that will help people make an informed decision, that is why the forums are important. We have had a lot of people tell us they really count on that. We will lifestream them in order to reach a much wider audience. We will then have it on our Facebook page afterwards so people can review it and see what candidates have to say before they go to vote.”

Kinerk said Futuro members are invited to submit questions for the candidates to her or Futuro committee member Davis Rankin. “Those questions will be given to the question panel. The ultimate decision on what questions to ask will be made by our question panel. They will consolidate them and make sure we do not get duplication. We want to make sure we ask the questions that really count. But, the question panel will have the final say on what questions are asked.”

Futuro RGV is also planning a few non-election forums for the Spring.

“We want to take an ind-depth look, probably in early April, at the Hidalgo County Courthouse situation. Where do we want it? Do we want it? Who wants it, who doesn’t want it” Lots of questions. We anticipate looking at that in early April,” Kinerk said.

“We are also looking at hosting a forum on the North American Free Trade Agreement. One of our committee members is talking to a very qualified speaker who might come and tell us what is going on with the NAFTA renegotiations, possibly in May. So, lots of things going on. We are excited. All of Futuro meetings are free and open to the public. We invite anybody and everybody to come. If you want more information, send me an email, [email protected], and I will put you on our email list and get the information to you.”

Futuro McAllen started in 1999 and held its first forums in 2001. A couple of years ago the group agreed to expand into other parts of the Rio Grande Valley.

“We have found that the quality of life issues we worked on, they do not stop at the city limits. What is good for those of us who live in McAllen, is good for everyone who lives in the Rio Grande Valley. These quality of life issues do not stop at the city limits. So, we are Futuro RGV.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows a previous Futuro candidate forum. (Photo: Progress Times)