EDINBURG — During a makeshift press conference outside the county commissioners court Tuesday, former McAllen mayor and current Commissioner Richard Cortez announced a bid for Hidalgo County Judge. He said he will run as a Democrat.

Cortez, 73, said he understands from his legal counsel that this announcement triggers his resignation from the McAllen City Commission.

I can continue to make the meetings until a replacement is made,” Cortez added. “However, if I choose not to, then it’s entirely up to me.”

Cortez, who wants to use his background as a certified public accountant to bring financial expertise to the county, will try to win the bid for county judge in the March 2018 primary. Former County Judge Eloy Pulido is the only other person to announce candidacy for county judge on the Democratic side. Small business owner and former educator Jane Cross has announced a run as a Republican.

The Hidalgo County Young Republicans were not pleased with Cortez’s announcement.

We want to express our disappointment in Mr. Cortez’s decision to run as a Democrat,” the group said in a statement. “It’s a shame that many times we lose extremely qualified candidates to the Democratic Party. A contested Republican primary would have given us the opportunity to spread our values of limited government and fiscal responsibility across the county. Our goal is to create a two-party system in Hidalgo County, which has not had any Republican leadership in over a century.”

Cortez, who was born in Mercedes and raised in Weslaco, said he has been a “proud Democrat,” voting in Democratic primaries since he was 18 years old. However, he has not always voted for Democrats in general elections.

I think I’m gonna decide who I tell what I vote for,” Cortez said. “That is a privacy issue that we all have. I’m going to tell you that I don’t believe that all Democrats running are best for the office, so sometimes I will vote for somebody else when it is appropriate for me to do that. So I guess sometimes you could call me an independent. But I believe the Democratic Party in the Rio Grande Valley has served us well in many aspects.”

This will be the third public office Cortez seeks. He served as mayor of McAllen from 2005-13 and as city commissioner from 2015 until now. Cortez recently won his unopposed re-election bid for District 1 Commissioner in May’s election.

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