McAllen commissioner Aida Ramirez will not seek re-election

McALLEN — The first Hispanic woman elected to the McAllen City Commission announced on Monday that she will not seek a sixth term in office, ending 18 years representing southwest McAllen.

Aida Ramirez, the District 4 Commissioner and mayor pro-tem, was elected in 2001 in a special election. She said her decision to leave her post was not easy.

“It is with a heavy heart that I make this announcement,” Ramirez said in a prepared statement to The Monitor, thanking the citizens of her district for allowing her to represent them.

Of the three commissioners up for re-election this May, Ramirez is the only one not seeking re-election. Candidates could begin filing for the May 4 ballot earlier this month, and District 5 Commissioner John Ingram and District 6 Commissioner Veronica Whitacre have already filed. Ingram has received a challenger, Victor “Seby” Haddad, a banker and a business owner.

As of Monday, no candidates had filed to run for the District 4 seat. Candidates have until Feb. 15 to file with the city secretary’s office. City officials said they expect a candidate to announce soon.

Meanwhile, Ramirez said she will continue to be involved in the community, and that she will “leave the doors open for any public endeavors that the future might hold for me.”

Mayor Jim Darling, who was city attorney when Ramirez was elected in 2001, said he will miss Ramirez.

“We watched her kids grow up,” Darling said. “And I know her family is really important to her, and she wants to be able to spend some more time with them.”

Ramirez was known to not say much during public sessions on the city commission, but her colleagues and city officials have said Ramirez has been sharp and inquisitive in their private executive sessions. Some remarked that Ramirez may know more about McAllen history than most.

Darling joked that he’s been with the city for 40 years — though in several different jobs — but Ramirez has kept the same one for nearly two decades.

While Ramirez may have been quiet in public session, she did on occasion assume the role of leading city commission meetings when Darling was not present. Often times after those meetings, fellow commissioners and city officials congratulated her, as they recognized it can be a bit tougher to lead commission meetings than one may think.

And Ramirez remarked on the role of the city’s leader in her statement.

“It was an honor and a privilege serving with the honorable mayors Leo Montalvo, Richard Cortez and Jim Darling,” Ramirez said in her statement. “Likewise, it was the same for all past and present city commissioners. I will never find another group of hard-working individuals. As like myself, they all love our city and strive to make it a better place to live in.”