Campaigning is underway and elections are just a month off in the race for the mayorship of Nogales, Sonora.
Six candidates had registered to run for the three-year position, according to information released in April by the Sonora State Electoral Institute (IEE), but one later withdrew.
Candidates for the two principal political coalitions are men with connections to Nogales, Sonora’s international economy.
Jorge Freig Carrillo, a businessman whose family controls companies in the transport and importing sector, is the candidate for the Go for Sonora coalition (Va por Sonora), a combination of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), National Action Party (PAN) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Carrillo also served as a local leader for the PRI until this March.
Until recent years, the three parties had been the dominant forces in Mexican politics, with the PAN occupying space on the political right, the PRD on the left and the PRI in the center. But the PRD was weakened when standard-bearer Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, now Mexico’s president, left the party to lead the National Regeneration Movement, known as Morena.
Juan Francisco Gim Nogales, the former port director for Mexico’s customs service (SAT) in Nogales, Sonora, is at the top of the Morena ticket in the mayor’s race. (And yes, his maternal last name is in fact Nogales.)
The city’s current mayor, Jesús Pujol Irastorza, is a member of Morena. In mid-April, Pujol told Sonoran media outlets that he wasn’t satisfied with the party’s process for choosing a mayoral candidate, after Morena announced it would put forward Gim, rather than support Pujol for re-election. But Gim’s candidacy was confirmed a few days later when the IEE released its list of candidates.
The lone woman candidate, Leticia Calderon Fuentes, is running on the ticket of the Labor Party (PT). Calderon has earned some name recognition as a representative for Nogales in the Sonora state legislature, though the PT doesn’t have the same stature as the PRI-PAN-PRD or Morena.
In recent campaign events, Calderon seems to have avoided appearing with longtime advisor Ramon Alberto “Beto” Fuentes, who pleaded guilty to drug smuggling at U.S. District Court in Tucson last year.
Fuentes was originally listed on the PT ticket as the party’s candidate for síndico procurador – roughly the equivalent of city attorney. However, in a meeting scheduled for Thursday evening, the IEE was set to consider a request from the party to change their candidate for the position to Jhonatan Grijalva Manzo, a man with ties to Fuentes.
Rounding out the ballot are small-party candidates.
Demetrio Ifantopulos is running on the Citizens’ Movement (Movimiento Ciudadano) ticket. A medical doctor, Ifantopulos’ wears a stethoscope to campaign events and his promotional materials feature the slogan: “With the doctor, Nogales is going to feel better.”
The Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM) is putting forward David Ricardo Jimenez Fuentes, who has served as a city council member in Nogales, Sonora.
David Rene Lopez Jacobo, a local lawyer, was originally slated to run for the Solidary Encounter Party (PES), but in late April, Sonoran media outlets reported that he’d withdrawn from the race, citing personal reasons. Lopez was considered as a possible candidate for Morena, but lost out to the party’s eventual nominee Gim, according to reports.
Next Friday, May 14, the five candidates are set to square off in a debate hosted by IEE. To view the debate live or submit questions for the candidates, see www.ieesonora.org.mx.
Elections are set for June 6.