Conservative activists in the Rio Grande Valley working toward big victories in 2022 have new reason to be optimistic. Javier Villalobos, a former chair of Hidalgo County GOP, won the mayoral runoff on June 5 with 51 percent of the vote. Though the race is nonpartisan, Republicans see it as a potential sign of victories to come in future elections.
Villalobos, an attorney and McAllen city commissioner, served as Hidalgo County GOP Chair from 2010 to 2014. Villalobos defeated Veronica Vela Whitacre in the runoff. He replaces Mayor Jim Darling, who served since 2013, and is the first registered Republican to serve as mayor since Othal Brand, who left office in 1997.
Hidalgo County GOP celebrated the win and its implications, posting, “A fire was started and it’s gone ablaze!
Villalobos ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism and curbing taxes. Though the race is nonpartisan, the two candidates’ differences were also made known on hot-button issues.
Villalobos expressed his strong support for the police against the “defund the police” movement that took over national conversation in 2020, telling Texas Public Radio, “If somebody has a gun over there, you’re not going to send a social worker.” Vela Whitacre, on the other hand, left her support for defunding the police unknown, expressing to TPR, “We as commissioners and mayor go to budget meetings three days a week for about three weeks in the month of August. And we listen to the department heads, and they give us the reasons why they need those amounts of monies, what they’re going to do with those monies, what projects they’re going to tackle that year … and at that point, as a commission and as mayor, we make the decision [about] which ones are priority.”
Villalobos, however, said defunding the police is not
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