RIO GRANDE CITY — Starr County Commissioner Raul “Roy” Peña died Saturday at the age of 67.
“We’re extremely saddened and extremely saddened for his family,” said County Judge Eloy Vera. “I wish there was something that we could say or do to relieve some of their pain but unfortunately there’s not much.”
The commissioner had been in and out of the hospital for several months because he was suffering from gout, according to Vera, though it was not clear if that contributed to his death.
Peña served as commissioner for precinct 2 for nearly two decades, beginning his term in 1999.
“His role was instrumental in getting a lot of things that we have been able to accomplish as a commissioners court,” Vera said. “He certainly was a key player in the court; a very strong individual and he’s going to be very difficult to replace.”
Out of respect for him and his family, Vera said he didn’t like to discuss what would be done to replace Peña until after funeral services were held, however. He added that sometime in the near future he would have to consider people from that precinct who could be named to fill the position.
Prior to running for county commissioner in 1998, Peña was a justice of the peace for 21 years, according to an obituary posted on the official Starr County Facebook page. He was originally appointed to the position, which was previously held by his mother, after she died.