The Agua Special Utility District is headed for a major shakeup in November.
Term limits prevent several members of the Agua SUD board from running for re-election — leaving three seats on the seven-member board wide open.
Monday marked the deadline for candidates to submit ballot applications. Seven candidates registered to run for four seats:
> Jose Luis Ochoa Jr., 33, of Peñitas
“I’ve always wanted to be not necessarily in politics, but a public servant,” said Ochoa, a special education teacher at HOPE Academy.
Ochoa ran for Peñitas City Council in June but lost to Osiel Ramos.
As a member of the Agua SUD board, Ochoa said he would review utility rates, make the utility district more transparent and improve communication with the public.
> Oscar Barron Jr., 35, of Peñitas
“I’ve lived in Peñitas almost all my life,” said Barron, an investigator with the Peñitas Police Department. “And I just want to serve Peñitas.”
Barron started by dispatching police calls. In 2012, when he graduated from the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council police academy, Barron became a law enforcement officer.
Serving on the Agua SUD board would be an extension of his service to Peñitas and the surrounding community, Barron said.
> Ana Maria Perez, 49, of Palmview
Without an opponent, Ana Maria Perez will need just one vote to win the election.
Due to a reporter’s error, the Progress Times was unable to reach Ana Maria Perez for comment.
> Rick Perez, 58, of La Joya
Rick Perez, an executive vice president at Rio Bank, joined the Agua SUD board in October 2021. He’s the only incumbent running for re-election in November.
He replaced Adolfo Arriaga, who resigned from the board to become a state trooper.
Rick Perez didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday.
> Sylvia C. Oxford, 66, of La Joya
Oxford, a local businesswoman, owns the Cerda Ranch in La Joya and the Oxford on 12th Avenue Business Center in Edinburg.
“I’ve always wanted to serve my community,” Oxford said.
To avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, Oxford said that she will not solicit donations and plans to pay for her own campaign.
Oxford ran for the La Joya City Council in 2019 but lost to Roger Hernandez.
As a member of the Agua SUD board, Oxford said she wants to avoid politics and be an independent voice for utility customers.
> Jesus Martinez, 34, of Sullivan City
Martinez, the owner of J&S Welding and Construction in Sullivan City, is the chief of the Sullivan City Volunteer Fire Department.
“I’ve seen how Agua SUD’s been lacking on the Sullivan City side,” Martinez said, adding that he’s particularly concerned about fire hydrants that don’t work.
Martinez said he wants Agua SUD to focus on better serving Sullivan City customers, who pay for both water and sewer.
> Adriana Flores-Villarreal, 58, of Sullivan City
Flores-Villarreal is the executive director for student services at the La Joya Independent School District. She plans to retire in December.
“I want to be able to make a difference,” Flores-Villarreal said.
Agua SUD needs board members with character and integrity, Flores-Villarreal said, to fix the district’s problems.
Early voting starts Oct. 24 and ends Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Correction: This article incorrectly stated that Ana Maria Perez did not respond to requests for comment. Due to a reporter’s error, the Progress Times was unable to reach her for comment.