The Progressive Young Democrats at UT Rio Grande Valley will host a congressional forum featuring the candidates running this year for District 15 congressman. The event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the historic Cine El Rey theatre in downtown McAllen.
Last semester, the PYDs would meet every Monday night to conjure up ideas and talk about different ideological topics that pertain to citizens not only on a national level, but also on a local level in the Rio Grande Valley. The officer meetings would range from 15 minutes to nearly five hours discussing all the possibilities for future events and current controversial issues such as campus carry.
The forum will parallel that of a debate, where all of the candidates will be lined up on stage and introduce themselves following a statement. The participants will receive questions from different organizations on campus as well as those sent in by local residents and UTRGV students.
After hearing that Ruben Hinojosa, current District 15 congressman, will be retiring after nearly 20 years of service, political science Assistant Professor Angel Saavedra expects the congressional election to be rather competitive.
“I think it leaves a power void because he’s been in office for a while and now that we have no incumbent, it’s going to make the race interesting because a lot of people who we have very little knowledge about are going to try to make sure people know who they are, so that they can vote for them,” Saavedra said.
“And it’s coming up in a couple of days, so it is important for people to get to know their candidates before going in and casting a vote.”
During a congressional election, not many people vote during the general elections. However, there should be an increase in voters during the primaries, but because this region is characterized by low income and low education–which are the two highest predictors for not voting–there may not be much of an increase, Saavedra said.
PYD Historian Marlon Monayao hopes to encourage locals and students alike to vote in this upcoming election.
“The people who are running for this position are not running for a local position and I think people find that hard
to comprehend,” the chemistry major said. “These people are running for a place in the White House. These people will be speaking for us, not on a local regime, but in a place where incredibly important and incredibly powerful people are present.”
One UTRGV senior who is looking forward to the forum is Ameera Khan.
This is her chance to get a good idea of who can potentially be representing not only her, but also her friends and community. Khan believes that to make change happen, locals need to be informed before they vote.
“I want to attend the forum because it’s a chance to really understand the policies and mindset of the candidates because so far, it seems like many people only know about the presidential election,” the pre-med biology major said. “However, in order for a government to actually work, people need to focus on general [and] local elections. These elections will affect our lives, whereas … presidential elections is pretty much all bureaucratic and inefficient.”
The forum will feature six confirmed candidates: Democrats Juan “Sonny” Palacios Jr., Vicente Gonzalez, Rance “Randy” Sweeten and Joel Quintanilla; Vanessa Tijerina of the Green Party; and Republican Ruben O. Villarreal. The primary election will be held March 1 and the general election for the new congressman will be Nov. 8.