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Hidalgo Co. Judge, County Probate Court-at-Law

  • JoAnne García (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Fidencio Guerra, Jr. (Dem) Attorney/Retired District Seinor Judge

  • Candidate picture

    Mark Talbot (Rep) Candidate for Probate Judge

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Biographical Information

What leadership qualities do you have that make you uniquely qualified to preside over County Commissioner's Court?

What, in your view, are the most important challenges to the office you are seeking, and how can you best serve your constituency during your term of office?

What is your position on the use of county, state and federal funds for conservation of natural resources?

What is your position on the Second Causeway? West Loop project?

How do you react to accusations of bribery and corruption in the county?

What is your position on granting future tax abatements for the two remaining proposed LNG companies locating here? Would that position be different if it were another company wanting to locate in Cameron County?

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Age 70
Education St. Mary's University School of Law, San Antonio, Texas Graduation - May 1974 Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree (Phi Delta Phi - Honors Fraternity) Pan American College, Edinburg, Texas Graduation - May 1971 Major - B.A. - Government
Experience 43 years as an Attorney of which 25 years were Judicial. Three years as a substitute Municipal Judge in McAllen; Four years as Judge of the 370th District Court in Edinburg; and as a Visiting Judge in Hidalgo County for 18 years while presiding over the Jail, Drug, and Auxiliary Courts.
List of endorsers The Voters!
I am running for Hidalgo County Probate Court. Some of my leadership experience is President of the County Bar Association in 1982-83 and Chairman of the Law Library Committee as well as having presided over various courts. I have over 25 years of Judicial experience in the District Court and as a Visiting Judge presiding over the Jail, Drug, and the Auxiliary Courts.

The Probate Court requires a Judge with knowledge, experience and a Judicial temperament to preside over it. This Court is a Life and Death Court.  Someone's death brings it before the Court and the Judges rulings will affect the lives of the decedent's heirs.  Some contested cases require a Jury Trial. I know how to impanel a Jury and preside over a jury trial and protect the record with my rulings.

My record on the Bench has shown my maturity, dedication, independence, and knowledge of the Law. I know the Law. I always follow the Law. I will not hesitate to apply the Law.  I respectfully ask for your vote.
The challenge is the slow pace at which the court moves and the backlog with the heavy caseload. The Probate process does take time, but I plan to make the court as efficient as possible and allow the people that come before me to move on with their lives as quickly as possible, while trying to help them lessen the distress and anguish.

The court handles will and non-will cases, guardianships, and mental health cases. I will set aside specific days to handle Will cases apart from the Guardinships and the Mental Health cases unless one is brought before the court on an emergency basis. I promise a full day of work five days a week if I am elected. The people have a right to their day in court.

I want to give the people of Hidalgo County a Judge they can Trust to be honest and efficient. The Court demands a Judge with a strong legal background and a strong work ethic to keep the docket moving efficiently and fairly according to the Law.
Conservation of natural resources is important. I support using public funds to ensure future generations have access to a public lands and a clean environment. The federal government can do a lot more to conserve our resources on a wide scale. But each level of government being involved is important for different reasons. The voters of the State and County have more say in what conservation projects and programs affect them directly. The various Governmental Departments must work together to allocate the best use of the funds that have been budgeted for such projects.
I believe that South Padre Island needs a second causeway on the north side of the island. The Island is a huge draw for tourism to the Rio Grande Valley and we all know how bad traffic getting to and from the island can be during the busy season. Having a second causeway will prevent people from being stuck on the island in the event of another accident or disaster.

The Valley is growing fast, there is a definite need for the West Loop Project to allow traffic to avoid the small towns along the expressway.
The accusations are sad. Corruption must be weeded out. The Citizens deserve elected officials who take their oaths seriously. They should give public service to the citizens. They must be held accountable if they break the law.

The scandals in politics have turned off many voters. Campaigns are frequently won and lost by a few hundred votes or less.

People familiar with my reputation, know I am honest. I do not play politics or ask for endorsements. Nobody can buy me off. I am not beholden to anyone nor have I promised anyone special favors or appointments for their support. I owe the Citizens my promise to properly preside over the Court with integrity and efficiency.

I took an oath when I was sworn in, “I have not directly or indirectly paid, offered, promised to pay, contributed, or promised to contribute any money or thing of value, or promised any public office or employment for the giving or withholding of a vote at the election at which I was elected, so help me God.”
The potential for job creation in the Valley I believe is a good thing. But I worry about the potential environmental impact it will have long into the future. Whether companies should be given tax abatements for coming here is a separate issue. I do not believe it is necessary to give companies such deals. If the Valley is such a good location for them, they will build here whether they get such tax exemption or not. We need that tax income to improve the Valley’s infrastructure. It is clear that the port is a good location for transporting the gas. There is always some kind of risk with any endeavor. As long as there are sufficient safety guidelines and careful oversight, we should be alright.
Age 58
Education Michigan State University - Juris Doctorate Texas Tech University - Bachelor A&S Schreiner University - Associates Degree
Experience Attorney with 27 years legal experience. Specializing in probate administration, estate planning, guardianships, elder law and related areas of practice. Previous experience as a state prosecutor and corporate senior trial attorney.
Military Service N/A
List of endorsers N/A
Twitter @talbot4probate
N/A - Not running for county administrative judge’s position.

I am a candidate for judge of the Statutory Probate Court of Hidalgo County. There are only 18 statutory probate courts out of approximately 1,200 state and county courts that preside over legal matters in the State of Texas. Each presiding statutory probate court judge has an average of 15 to 20 years specialized practice experience in probate administration and related areas. This is one of the most specialized courts in Texas which requires a candidate with the right experience to handle the difficult matters that come before this court.
EDUCATION - Most people have no idea what the probate court even does. My experience has been that even lawyers who handle probate related matters are often not fully aware of the complexities that relate to these types of cases. One of the most important tasks of the new judge will have is to get out and speak to different groups as well as utilizing technology in attempting to help people become more informed as to what a statutory probate court actually does. MAINTAINING STANDARDS -The current judge of the statutory probate court has served as judge for at least 23 years. Through his tenure as the probate judge he has gained a wealth of knowledge which has helped him effectively manage the probate court. Because of the difficulty understanding this area of law only an estate planning and probate attorney with 15 to 20 years experience will effectively be able to preside over this court.
This is not the type of issue that would normally be considered by a judge in a statutory probate court. The elected judge in the statutory probate court handles matters as it relates to probate administration, guardianships and mental health commitments. They also handle all issues related to these types of cases which can very often include probate litigation.
Personally, I would only be in favor of these projects if information is fully disclosed to the taxpayers and a referendum was scheduled to vote on whether to approve such a project. Very often it appears as though county governments attempt to push through projects without adequately securing funding. Eventually, unless federal or state grant money is utilized for such a project the cost involved will eventually result in taxpayers having to pay for the project. If the majority of taxpayers are in favor of funding projects that might result in higher taxes after voting on a referendum then no one should be able to object if it passes. Otherwise, I'm against new projects that would result in citizens having to pay higher taxes without being given the opportunity to vote by way of a referendum before project is undertaken.
As a former state prosecutor and believe very strongly in enforcement of the law. However, I've also been an attorney in Hidalgo County for quite a while and think very highly of the judges who preside in this county and the attorneys that I work with on a daily basis. I understand these concerns and support the implementation of disciplinary measures when needed. I have served on several disciplinary boards at the state and local level in an effort to ensure that rules are followed. As an attorney I believe it's important that we all observe the rule of law. On the other hand, an allegation is just that. We should all remember that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty and that everyone accused of a crime should not be judged until they've had their day in court.
Since I'm not a resident of Cameron County I'm unfamiliar with all the concerns that surround this issue. Consequently, I don't believe that I am qualified to effectively answer this question.