Richard Cortez is the New Hidalgo County Judge

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Former McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez as he took the oath of office and his daughters, Sandy Chandrahasan and Laura Mangelschots witnessed the oath administered by District Judge Israel Ramon.
Former McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez as he took the oath of office and his daughters, Sandy Chandrahasan and Laura Mangelschots witnessed the oath administered by District Judge Israel Ramon.

He pledges to work together to make this county the best 

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition January 2019

January 2, 2019, a nice cold and rainy morning the day when former McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez became the Hidalgo County judge. The commissioner’s court located at 100 E. Cano Street, First Floor in Edinburg was packed to the max with friends, supporters, and family attending the ceremony.

It was district judge Israel Ramon, Jr. administering the Oath of Office. 

“First, I want to start by thanking my first cousin Israel Ramon for swearing me in today,” Cortez said, “He touched on something that’s very important to me and should be very important to all of us, God’s gift to us, family.” 

He said that when they were growing up, they had a father, mother, two married uncles, and three unmarried aunts and three unmarried uncles living in the same house. He joked by saying that each one of them had a bathroom, but when he rectified, that there was only one bathroom for all, everyone in the room started laughing. 

He said, “We learned time management very quickly in life.” He pointed out that it was not hard living under those conditions, and to him it was fun. “They were some of the fondest memories I have because it shows the importance of family. It shows the importance of people loving one another. It shows the importance of doing things for one another. The older people wanted the younger ones to get an education. None had an education, but after that, everyone attended college and got a college education. So those are good memories,” he said.

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The audience expectation was apparent, what’s in store for the future of the county?

Judge Cortez started by saying, “Many lives are impacted by county governments.” He continued, “Because if you have a mentally ill person, if you have a flooding in your Colonia, if you are sick and poor and have no insurance, if you have you been wronged by someone, if you are concerned about your safety about your property in the rural areas, then the County governments will play a role in your life.” 

He said that as government, they have a duty to the taxpayer because that’s where the money comes from. “It’s okay for us to spend their money, but they want us to spend it wisely, efficiently, and effectively,” Cortez said that is his ultimate goal.

According to him, the second part is that budgetary problems cannot be solved by simply cutting expenses. “You don’t have to go to Harvard or even Texas A&M which is an excellent school here. But you don’t solve budget problems simply by cutting expenses. Anyone can do that”. He continues, “The best way to solve budget problems is to grow your revenues,” he said emphatically. 

Cortez posed a question, “How are we going to grow our revenues in Hidalgo county?” 

He stated that the county is very unique, and that uniqueness can be our strength or our weakness and that we decide whether it’s a strength or weakness. 

“It’s a weakness when we don’t work together, and it’s a strength when we work together.” He went on to say that God’s plan was straightforward, ‘everybody helps everybody.’ So, in essence, if everyone helps everyone, needs will be fulfilled. 

Judge Cortez says that we are a metropolitan area and that sometimes we compete with one another, he says that’s okay. But he emphasized that the future is going to force us to be better. “It’s going to force us to come together because we’re now competing globally. The jobs of tomorrow are not the jobs of today. So how do we prepare ourselves for the future? We have to find out what the jobs in the future are,” he said. 

He asked two questions, how many communities can sit here today and invest in jobs that do not exist today? How do you train people for jobs that don’t exist today? “That’s why a big part of my administration is going to be identifying future investment in those things.”

Judge Cortez said that he will be looking for human capital, for smart people because smart people as human capital produce innovation. “Innovation produces good things. And together we are going to make it the best county. And I thank you for that,” he finalized.

Public Officials Welcome Judge Cortez

Ramon Garcia, Former Hidalgo County Judge

Judge, I want to make sure that we properly and officially welcome you to Hidalgo County. You’re going to find that the county is full of intelligent hardworking people that care about what happens. And I wish you well in your tenure as our county judge. 

David L. Fuentes, Pct. 1 Commissioner

Judge Cortez, we’d like to welcome you to Hidalgo County Commissioners Court. We look forward to working with you. We look forward to the leadership that you will provide to our court on behalf of precinct one. We look forward to working with you over the next four years.

Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu, Pct. 2 Commissioner

Judge Cortez welcome to the county. Welcome to our team. I’m really looking forward to working with you. It’s been a long time coming. I think you and I share a lot of the same mentality, same opinions. And I think we’re going to work really well together. Welcome to the team and it’s going to be a great four years. 

Joe M. Flores, Pct. 3 Commissioner

Welcome Judge Cortez. We’re looking forward to working with you for commissioner’s court for the next several years.

Ellie Torres, Pct. 4 Commissioner

Judge Cortez, on behalf of precinct 4, I’m looking forward to working with you and your staff and the tremendous future we have planned for the citizens of Hidalgo County. 

Judge Rudy Gonzalez, County Court at Law #1

Judge Cortez I want to congratulate you on your successful bid for Judge of the county. I will be looking forward to working with you and doing whatever we need to do to assist the citizens of this county working together in conjunction with the new administration. 

J. E. Eddie Guerra, Hidalgo County Sheriff

On behalf of the Hidalgo County sheriff’s office I want to welcome you to the county government. I look forward to working with you. Enjoyed the time we spent on the campaign trail but now it is time to buckle down and get to work.

Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, Texas District 15

I wish my good friend and incoming County Judge Richard Cortez all the success in moving our county forward. I look forward to working with you and improving not only Hidalgo county but our entire region. Richard thank you for your commitment. And may God continue to bless you. 

Congressman Henry Cuellar, Texas District 28

On behalf of my district, Texas 28. Congratulations on your recent victory as Hidalgo County Judge. As fellow Texans, I know we share a commitment to public service and common-sense problem-solving. A career in public office is among the most rewarding ways to give back to one’s community and stay true to our shared Texan values. God bless you. 

Joseph Palacios, Former Pct. 4 Commissioner

Judge Cortez congratulations and good luck on this upcoming year, this incoming term on making the greatest difference that I know you can possibly make. You’ve always been a mentor and I do wish you the best.

Arturo Guajardo Jr., Hidalgo County Clerk

Judge Congratulations. As much as I enjoyed hitting the campaign trail with you, all that is now behind us. I look forward to working with you. I know that you’ve got some great ideas for Hidalgo County and together we will make this a better place. 

Ricardo Rodriguez Jr., Criminal District attorney

Judge Cortez, on behalf of myself and Hidalgo county commissioner’s office, I’d like to congratulate you on being elected county judge. Both of us know that you have a huge responsibility besides serving the citizens of this great county but also making the best decisions and in the best interests for the citizens of this county. 

Judge Noe Gonzalez, 370th District Court

Judge Cortez, welcome to Hidalgo County. This is your county now. And although we’ve known you for years, we expect that same leadership you’ve shown us for years to be the same leadership you used, to direct us in the direction our county is going. They say wisdom comes from intelligence, from knowledge, from experience filtered straight through the heart. So, I know you bring a lot of wisdom. You’ve got a big heart and you’ve got a lot of experience. Welcome.

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