Former Texas Secretary of State and Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos dead at age 71

 June 28, 2024

Former Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos, who previously served a two-year term as the Texas secretary of state, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 71, local media outlet ValleyCentral reported.

Cascos is believed to have suffered a fatal cardiac arrest that resulted in a car accident on South Padre Island, and he was declared dead Wednesday night at the Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville by Justice of the Peace Linda Salazar.

Immigrant, accountant, and public servant

According to ValleyCentral, Cascos was born in Matamoros, Mexico, in 1952 but moved to Texas with his family at a young age and grew up in Brownsville, where he attended public school before graduating from the University of Texas in Austin with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, Government, and Accounting.

Cascos, a certified public accountant, held several appointed and elected offices over the decades, the Texas Tribune reported, including on the Texas Public Safety Commission and as a Cameron County commissioner from 1991 until 2002. He was first elected as a Cameron County judge in 2006 and was twice re-elected to additional four-year terms.

Originally a South Texas Democrat in the Rio Grande Valley, Cascos switched to being a Republican when he was nominated by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve as the state's 110th Secretary of State, a position he held from 2015-2017.

He is believed to have suffered a heart attack while driving home from a conference on South Padre Island on Wednesday, and he had a history of heart problems, including a quadruple bypass surgery in 2022, according to his close friend Morgan Cisneros Graham, who is the operations director at Cascos' accounting firm and previously served as chair of the Cameron County GOP.

"He was a very pragmatic, moderate Republican," Graham said, willing to engage with anyone, no matter their partisan alignment. "Those of us who are considered family are not the only ones who lost -- everybody has, even people who have never heard of him."

Praised by former friends and colleagues

The Rio Grande Guardian reported that condolences for his family -- he is survived by his wife, Candy, and their two daughters, Casandra and Andrea -- and tributes to his decades of public service and border region advocacy were quickly issued by his former friends and colleagues.

"It was heartbreaking to hear about the tragic passing of Carlos Cascos last night. Carlos was not only a friend, but he was my accountant and next door neighbor for 15 years," former Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said. "Carlos will forever be remembered as an honorable and well-respected leader, serving as County Commissioner, County Judge, and Secretary of State."

"Carlos was always willing to give advice and was a strong supporter. When I was re-elected to the Board at Texas Southmost College, Carlos swore me in," the former mayor added. "A great life cut short. I will always remember the conversations outside our garages, great times at his home, and his old Ford Bronco. Condolences to his wife, Candy, his wonderful daughters, Andrea and Cassandra, and his sister, Gloria."

His friend from a neighboring county, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, said, "I am shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of dear friend Carlos Cascos. As a former Cameron County Judge, a former Cameron County Commissioner, and a former Texas Secretary of State, Carlos embodied public service and served faithfully not only the people of Cameron County but the Rio Grande Valley and the State of Texas as well. Hidalgo County sends its prayers to Carlos’s family.


The Guardian noted that the City of Brownsville expressed its "heartfelt condolences" for the Cascos family's loss and praised the late judge and commissioner for his "substantial contributions" to the city and who would be "dearly missed" by all.

Brownsville City Commissioners Pedro Cardenas and Tina Villareal both separately stated how "saddened" they were to learn of Cascos' death, with Cardenas heralding him as a "powerful advocate" for the city and county, while Villareal described him as an "amazing father, husband, and brother to his family."

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said in a statement, "I’m saddened to hear that Carlos Cascos has passed away. He and I were both Texas Secretaries of State. May Carlos rest in peace. He will forever be remembered as a selfless public servant. Carlos and his family are in my prayers."

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