By J. NOEL ESPINOZA
Special to the NEWS
*Update: Esteban Rodriguez filed to run for City Commissioner, Place 3 on Wednesday, which was not included in the print edition due to deadline.
Nine candidates have filed for five spots on the ballot for the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees elections scheduled for May 2, and eight candidates have filed to run for mayor and city commission for the City of San Benito.
Five of seven seats are up for grabs on the school board, including the seat currently held by Place 7 board member Angel Mendez, who has decided not to run for re-election this year. The names of the list of candidates were released by SBCISD on Monday.
Santiago “Jimmy” Sanchez and Janie Lopez have filed to run for Mendez’s seat. Janie Lopez, a former employee of SBCISD, is one of several residents who filed a complaint last year to oust former trustee Michael A. Vargas, who was arrested for driving while intoxicated in Harlingen July 5.
Current SBCISD Board of Trustees President Orlando “Papas” Lopez will be challenged by former SBCISD After School Program Director Jack Garcia, who was dismissed from SBCISD in 2019.
In place 5, current trustee M. L. Garcia, a relative of Jack Garcia, is facing Rudy Corona.
In place 6, trustee Victor Eloy Rosas is facing Joseph Galarza. In Place 1, Baldemar Olivarez Jr., who was appointed to complete Vargas’s term early this year, hasn’t filed his candidacy to retain his seat. However, Anna Garza Llanes has filed for the seat to fill Place 1.
First, Janie Lopez had filed to run for Place 5, but later changed to run in Place 7.
The only two board members who are not facing re-election this year are Vice-President Sonia Weaver and Secretary Janie Silva, who hold Place 2 and 3 respectively. Both are up for re-election next year.
Filing for candidacies for the school board will continue through Feb. 14.
As of Jan. 27, 2020, seven candidates have filed to run for mayor and city commission for the City of San Benito.
Current San Benito Mayor Benjamin “Ben” Gomez is facing two challengers for mayor, former city commissioner Ricardo “Rick” Guerra and Celeste Zepeda Sanchez. Guerra recently resigned his seat to challenge Gomez.
In Place 2, Daniel Cortez and Deborah Ann Morales will challenge current City Commissioner Rene Villafranco.
In-Place 1, as of Jan. 27, current City Commissioner Antonio Gonzalez is the only candidate who has filed for the seat.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2020 issue of the NEWS.