LAS MILPAS, RGV – The two slates of candidates running for Pharr City Commission will come face to face at a Valley Interfaith accountability session on Sunday.

The meeting takes place at St Francis Xavier Cabrini Catholic Church in south Pharr, starting at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 26. Election Day is May 9.

Rev. Edouard Atangana.
Rev. Edouard Atangana.

Valley Interfaith is a non-profit, institutionally based community organization, composed of 25 member institutions from across the Valley.  It seeks to identify and educate leaders to work with their communities to identify issues that affect the welfare of their neighborhoods. “Valley Interfaith leaders initiate discussions and encourage active participation necessary to exercise our birthright as citizens in a democratic society,” the group states. It is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates, political parties or political philosophies.

In a news advisory, Valley Interfaith says all the candidates for mayor and commissioners have agreed to participate in the forum.

The Pharr Forward slate comprises Dr. Ambrosio ‘Amos’ Hernandez, who is running for mayor, educator Eleazar Guajardo, who is running for Place 1, former Pharr Mayor Ricardo Medina, who is running for Place 5, and Dr. Ramiro Caballero, who is running for Place 6.

The Pharr First slate comprises current City Commissioner Adan Farias, who is running for mayor, City Commissioner Arturo Cortez, who is running for re-election in Place 1, City Commissioner Aquiles ‘Jimmy’ Garza, who is running for re-election in Place 5, and educator Mario Bracamontes, who is running for Place 6.

There has been a lot of heated political rhetoric so far on the campaign trail. How much of that will be repeated on Sunday is open to speculation because traditionally Valley Interfaith is strict on ensuring candidates only answer questions on issues important to the group.

“This session gives the community an opportunity to practice the true art of politics,” said Eddie Anaya, leader with Valley Interfaith and parishioner at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church. “The community will present to the candidates issues that have been identified after a year of one to one conversations and small group meetings. The candidates will have an opportunity to say where they stand on these issues.”

Ms. Lorena Singh, a longtime Las Milpas resident and Valley Interfaith leader agreed. “There are basic needs for Pharr and especially for Las Milpas, a community of 40.000, almost half the population of Pharr. These needs include a public library/resource center, a bridge/walkway that will connect the community to our only park, continued funding for Project VIDA, paving of streets that are in poor condition, curtailing predatory lending and access to public transportation.”

The Rev. Edouard Atangana, pastor at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Catholic Church, said he wants as large a turnout by the community as possible.

“It is part of our Christian responsibility to participate in the life of the community; we do this by participating in small group meetings with our neighbors to identify issues of common concern and by voting,” Atangana said. “When we are faithful to responsibility as citizens, City Hall knows that we exist. The best way to say we exist is to participate in the democratic process. When we go out and vote, we exert significant influence.”