Featured, from left: Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; newly-appointed Mayor Pro Tem Richard Molina; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; and former City Manager Ramiro Garza, Jr., who now serves as President and CEO of RG Economic Advisors. This image was taken on Thursday, February 6, 2014, during joint grand opening ceremonies of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation business complex, located at 101 North 10th Avenue, and Canales’ District 40 Legislative Office, which is in the EEDC facility.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
With his unanimous selection on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 by the mayor and city council to serve as the city’s mayor pro tem, Councilmember Richard Molina continues to build his leadership role as a representative for Edinburg at the local, state and national levels, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Molina will now run city council meetings, address business and community groups, and work even more with state and federal lawmakers on the city’s successful legislative agendas whenever Mayor Richard García is unable to perform those duties. For a city such as Edinburg, where economic development advances and improvements to the quality-of-life continue to take place at an impressive pace, being mayor pro tem has always been much more than an honorary title. “Mayor Richard García is a well-known defense attorney, and his busy schedule on behalf of his clients and our city have him traveling away from Edinburg throughout the Valley, Texas, and the nation. This is when the mayor pro tem is vitally needed to show Edinburg citizens how important are their concerns and issues, especially during gatherings and meetings here at home when the mayor is not available,” said Molina. Edinburg is growing so fast that sometimes the mayor is needed at one meeting, and the mayor pro tem is needed at another session that is going on at the same time, he explained. “Just today (Saturday, February 27, 2016), Councilmember David Torres and I represented the city council for an important tour of the new soccer practice fields, which are being upgraded to first-class levels at the Edinburg Municipal Park. One of those fields which will host the practices for the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros professional soccer team,” Molina illustrated. “We also met with Bert García, the president of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers professional basketball team, and Alonzo Cantú, the developer of the $16.8 million soccer stadium complex being built in Edinburg, for an in-depth tour and update of this major new professional soccer venue coming to our city later this spring.” The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros professional soccer team and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers professional basketball team are part of an ownership group which features Cantú, with Bert García in the top executive role. Cantú and Bert García are also key figures, along with the Mayor and City Council, in the planned construction of the $88 million Bert Ogden Arena that will be home to the Vipers, and which is being built in south Edinburg along U.S. Expressway 281/Interstate Highway 69C. For all the responsibilities he willingly takes, and the many hours he dedicates to the city, Molina never takes himself too seriously, often demonstrating that humor and good will go a long way towards keeping the people’s touch that is essential for any political leader. “When Mayor Richard García is not able to make key meetings, then Mayor Pro Tem Richard Molina is ready, willing and able to represent Edinburg,” he said. “You always need a good backup quarterback if you want to get to and win a Super Bowl.”
Featured: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, D-Mission, addressing fellow state lawmakers in the spring of 2015 from the front microphone in the Chamber of the Texas House of Representatives.
Photograph: HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
Texans for Lawsuit Reform, known for its strong support for Republican candidates, has provided $140,000 in campaign contributions to Abraham Padrón, who is challenging three-term Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, in the March 1 Democratic Party primary, according to the latest campaign finance reports maintained by the Texas Ethics Commission. For his part, Muñoz has received significant financial support from the two major attorney groups – the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, which often favors Democrats, and the Texas Association of Consumer Lawyers – which together have pumped almost $50,000 into the incumbent legislator’s political war chest. Those finding, and other details about who is investing in the House District 36 race, and how much and where the two candidates are spending, cover a period of January 22, 2016 to February 20, 2016. House District 36 includes all or parts of the cities of Hidalgo, Granjeño, McAllen, Mission, Palmview and Pharr. Muñoz, an attorney, has served in the Texas House of Representatives since 2011; Padrón, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico, is an insurance agent. According to these most recent campaign finance reports, which are available online at https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/, both men showed the following data: Muñoz had $131,508.64 in contributions, $117,220.41 in expenditures, $202,772.14 cash on hand, and 286,300 in outstanding loans. Padrón reported $218,625 in contributions, $154,812.13 in expenditures, $71,571.74 cash on hand, and $151,135.06 in outstanding loans. Early voting for the March 1 Democratic and Republic party primaries has been ongoing since Tuesday, February 16, 2016, and will continue through Friday, February 26, 2016. There are no candidates who have filed for the Republican Party nomination for State Representative, House District 36, which means the Democratic Party nominee will most likely will be sworn into office for a two-year term that begins in January 2017. Muñoz lists his campaign address as P.O. Box 1257, Mission, Texas 78573, with Marla Muñoz-López serving as his campaign treasurer. She lists her treasurer address as 1110 South Closner, Edinburg, Texas 78539. The campaign treasure telephone number is 956/381-5555. Padrón lists his campaign address as 800 North 10th, McAllen, Texas 78501, with Delfa Padrón serving as his campaign treasurer. She lists her treasurer address as 800 North 10th, McAllen, Texas 78501. The campaign treasure telephone number is 956/821-8965.
Featured, from left, in foreground: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission and McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, and in background, from left, Steve Ahlenius, President/CEO, McAllen Chamber of Commerce, and McAllen City Commissioner Trey Pebley. The group was participating in the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s 84th Legislative Wrap-up Luncheon, held at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel in McAllen on Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
In the race for House District 36, Rep. Sergio Muñoz and Abraham Padrón, both Democrats, spent $45,432,82 and $57,002.93, respectively, for the period of January 1 and January 21, 2016, according to the most recent campaign finance reports submitted to the Texas Ethics Commission. House District 36 includes all or parts of the cities of Hidalgo, Granjeño, McAllen, Mission, Palmview and Pharr. Muñoz, an attorney, has served in the Texas House of Representatives since 2011; Padrón, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico, is an insurance agent. Also according to the campaign finance reports, which were received by the Texas Ethics Commission on Monday, February 1, 2016, Muñoz showed $24,450 in political contributions, not including pledges, loans, or guarantees of loans between January 1 and January 21, 2016, while Padrón reported $30,400 in political contributions during that same period, not including pledges, loans, or guarantees of loans. Both men were carrying outstanding loans. Muñoz reported $290,550 in all outstanding loans, with $188,483.90 available for campaign expenditures. Padrón had $92,300 in all outstanding loans, with $6,795.11 available for campaign expenditures. The next round of campaign finance reports were due on Monday, February 22, 2016. Early voting for the March 1 Democratic and Republic party primaries has been ongoing since Tuesday, February 16, 2016, and will continue through Friday, February 26, 2016. There are no candidates who have filed for the Republican Party nomination for State Representative, House District 36, which means the Democratic Party nominee will most likely will be sworn into office for a two-year term that begins in January 2017. Muñoz lists his campaign address as P.O. Box 1257, Mission, Texas 78573, with Marla Muñoz-López serving as his campaign treasurer. She lists her treasurer address as 1110 South Closure, Edinburg, Texas 78539. The campaign treasure telephone number is 956/381-5555. Padrón lists his campaign address as 800 North 10th, McAllen, Texas 78501, with Delfa Padrón serving as his campaign treasurer. She lists her treasurer address as 800 North 10th, McAllen, Texas 78501. The campaign treasure telephone number is 956/821-8965.
Featured: Letty Reyes, Director of Business Development & Public Affairs, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Dalila Razo, Business Manager, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Nelda Ramírez, Assistant Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos; Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and Diego Reyna, Research Analyst, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. This image was taken at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Thursday, January 21, 2016, during the public affairs luncheon sponsored by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Construction and related building activities in Edinburg totaled more than $36 million for January 2016, almost five times higher than the same month in 2015, with the 9,400-seat stadium that will be home to the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros professional soccer team coming in as the most valuable project, after it was issued a building permit for work priced at $16.8 million, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The soccer stadium, which still has not been given a name, is being built on a 37-acre site, according to the city’s Code Enforcement Department, which issues all building permits. The second-most significant construction project approved for a building permit in January 2016 was a 168-unit multi-family housing complex, worth more than $9.7 million, located at 4604 South Sugar Road, next to the Edinburg Regional Medical Center/Edinburg Children’s Hospital. Located on a 9.77 acre site, this multi-family housing development, a project of Greenpoint Developers, LLC, is the latest addition to a growing and modern residential region that now includes The Villages at Sugar Road, the Bridges at Edinburg, which is an assisted living community, and the residential Summerset Estates and Summerfield Manor. Kamaldeep Gill was issued a building permit by the city in January 2016 valued at $2.1 million for a 50-room MainStay Suites, an extended stay hotel, to be located on a 10-acre site next to the Comfort Inn. Both hotels, which are part of Choice Hotels International, are immediately west of The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley. The address for both the Comfort Inn and the MainStay Suites is 4001 S. Business Highway 281 in the Comfort Subdivision. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. In general, a building permit is legal permission given by the City of Edinburg to erect, construct, renovate, maintain, or conduct any other specified activity on any building or structure, or on any installations or facilities therein. The term “building permit” includes but is not limited to building permits, electrical permits, mechanical permits, and plumbing permits. During January 2016, building permits for work valued at $36,212,106 were issued by the city, compared with $7,279,701 in January 2015. The top categories in Edinburg during January 2016 were: $19,240,000 – Commercial New Construction; $9,994,464 – Multi-Family Residences New Construction; $5,885,185 – Single-Family Residences New Construction; $935,200 – Commercial Alterations; $140,075 – Residential Alterations; and $17,000 – Non-Taxable New/Alterations (government, religious, but not including the value of construction activities at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley or its School of Medicine). Also according to the city’s Code Enforcement Department, 45 single-family residences were approved for construction in January 2016, compared with 13 single-family residences during the same month in 2015. For the month of January 2016, building permits were issued for 27 additions/remodels of single-family residences, compared with 50 in January 2015. Multi-family residences – which range from two-unit duplexes to complexes of five or more units – totaled 176 units approved for construction in January 2016, compared with 20 units in January 2015. On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, plans for the soccer stadium now under construction were first unveiled with the announcement that the United Soccer League (USL) awarded its 25th franchise to Alonzo Cantú, owner of the NBA Development League Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The club, known as RGVFC Toros, will serve as the hybrid affiliate of the Houston Dynamo. RGVFC is slated to kick off later this spring. The soccer stadium, which is modeled after the Houston Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium, is located at the intersection of East Freddy González Drive and South Raúl Longoria Road. “The USL is proud and excited to welcome RGVFC to our league,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said during last summer’s announcement. “We have great confidence in Alonzo Cantú, who has a proven track record in business and professional sports in the Rio Grande Valley. This vibrant economic market with a population of 1.3 million enjoys a long tradition in soccer. RGVFC is a first-class sports organization that will treat the passionate south Texas soccer fans to a state-of-the-art 9,400-seat soccer-specific stadium which surely will become a source of pride for the region.”
Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, fields questions in Spanish from Valley television journalists at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Thursday, January 21, 2016, during the public affairs luncheon sponsored by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
More detailed information in Spanish has been recently made available on the website of the Texas House of Representatives, a response by the House leadership to legislation championed in 2015 by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. A Spanish translation function, which is free and available to the public, has been included on the website for the Texas House of Representatives, a move that the House District 40 lawmaker said will increase the number of Hispanics who can learn more about the state legislative process. “It is both practical and beneficial to offer legislative information in both English and Spanish. As we seek to modernize our government and keep pace with the 21st century, I believe we must allow legislative information to be accessible in English and Spanish,” said Canales, who is fluent in both languages. “The success of government depends on effectively communicating with the public and offering nondiscriminatory, accurate information.” Canales gave credit to Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Ft. Worth, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Administration, which has wide-reaching jurisdiction over the administrative operations of the House of Representatives, including the official House of Representatives website (http://www.house.state.tx.us). “With a growing number of state agencies providing detailed information in Spanish on their respective websites, I appreciate Chairman Geren and the rest of the House leadership for working with me to create a bilingual presence on the Internet for the Texas House of Representatives,” said Canales. The Spanish-language component now in place does not include all documents in the House and House member’s websites because that would involve millions of words, since each state representative files up to 100 or more pieces of legislation each session. However, what is in place represents a significant move forward in democracy, he said. “We now have the most crucial information available in Spanish, such as how a bill becomes law, a glossary of every action that can be taken during the legislative process, biographies of each state representative, addresses and phone numbers, and so on,” Canales said. With this action, the House of Representatives is helping break down language barriers, the lawmaker said. “English is the most used language in Texas, but we do not want to disenfranchise those who are more fluent in Spanish,” Canales said. “According to a 2011 Census survey, almost 30 percent of Texans speak Spanish. Of that figure, more than 42 percent of those Texans speak English less than very well.” Providing more Spanish-language content on the House of Representatives websites also will help generate more commerce with non-English nations which do business with Texas. “Texas bordering Mexico also makes it crucial that our largest trading partner have access to our Legislature and the information we have,” Canales added. According to http://www.TexasWideOpenForBusiness.com, which is a maintained by the Texas Economic Development Corporation – an arm of the Office of the Governor – Mexico in 2014 was ranked number one with $102.6 billion in Texas exports. Mexico also held the top spot as country of origin for Texas imports, accounting for more than $90.1 billion, or 29 percent, of Texas imports in 2014.