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City Council unanimously appoints seven members, including former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, to the governing board of newly-created Edinburg Economic Development Department - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Featured: Former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, who currently serves as Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, speaks during the UTRGV Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology (HESTEC) Latina Day on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at the Health & Physical Education II Building in Edinburg.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

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City Council unanimously appoints seven members, including former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, to Board of Directors of newly-created Edinburg Economic Development Department

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

A former state representative – and three previous members of the Board of Directors of the now-dissolved Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (Edinburg EDC) –  along with three other prominent area leaders on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, were unanimously appointed by the Edinburg City Council to the Board of Directors of the newly-created Edinburg Economic Development Department. 

The Edinburg Economic Development Department takes over the duties of the Edinburg EDC, which since its creation by city voters in the early 1990s, was a Type A nonprofit organization, which according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, “is typically created to fund industrial development projects such as business infrastructure, manufacturing and research, and development. Type A EDCs can also fund military base realignment, job training classes, and public transportation.” More details »

The Edinburg EDC every year received millions of dollars from the city’s one-half cent sales tax for a wide range of economic development programs. Its current annual budget, which covers October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020, was $5.9 million.

In a related action, the city council on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, also set the number of members of the Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Department to seven members. 

By comparison, the Board of Directors for the Edinburg EDC had five members who also were appointed by the majority of the Edinburg City Council, which includes the mayor.

The new Edinburg Economic Development Department, along with the seven members of its board of directors, are empowered to promote and develop commercial, industrial, and manufacturing enterprise, and to promote and encourage employment, according to the city agenda packet, which was released to the public online early Friday evening, May 29, 2020.

Former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, was among 31 renowned area residents who had applied for one of those seven new and powerful board of director’s volunteer posts to help lead the Edinburg Economic Development Department.

Initially, when the city council agenda packet was made public on the Internet by the city government, there were 24 individuals who had submitted their candidacy for the seven slots. On Monday afternoon, June 2, 2020, an updated list was provided, which increased the number of applicants to 31.

Although Gonzáles and the other six appointees were announced on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, they must still pass a background check, coordinated by the city manager’s office, which is required of all individuals seeking to serve on city boards and related advisory committees.

The seven new members of the Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Department – as was required of all 31 candidates – provided key biographical information on their respective applications,

The application asked for each candidate’s full name, home address, email address, name of employer, and employer’s address. 

That information for the seven new board directors are, in alphabetical order, follows:

• Daniel Antonio Díaz
3225 Dutchess Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
South Texas Health Systems, McAllen

• Roland Gómez
3816 Anaya Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
City of Pharr

• Verónica Gonzáles
1201 W. University Drive
[email protected]
Vice President of Governmental and Community Relations
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

• Hiren Govind
2708 South Business Highway 281
[email protected]
Qube Hotel Group
502 West Trenton Road, Edinburg

• Sabrina Walker Hernández
3472 Los Lagos Drive, Edinburg
[email protected]
Supporting World Hope
P.O. Box 3122, Edinburg

• Raúl Reséndez
151o S. Sugar Road, Edinburg
[email protected]
Raul Reséndez State Farm Insurance
1510 S Sugar Rd., Suite #1, Edinburg

 • Aaron (Ronny) Rivera
2512 Churchill Avenue, Edinburg
[email protected]
Rivera Funeral Home
1901 Pecan Boulevard, McAllen

Díaz, Gómez, and Govind are recent members of the Board of Directors, Edinburg EDC.

Gonzáles, an attorney, represented House District 41 from January 2005 to June 29, 2012. She resigned her seat to become Vice President for University Advancement at the University of Texas-Pan American, which in 2013 became The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

When she vacated her seat from the Texas Legislature, she was the two-term Chair of the House Committee on Border and Intergovernmental Affairs, which developed proposals to improve security while maintaining economic development along Texas’ border with Mexico. That legislative panel also identified health disparities in counties along Texas’ border with Mexico and proposed strategies to expand preventive medical care. 

During the public forum segment at the beginning of the Edinburg City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, she praised all the candidates, and explained how she would be able to help generate economic growth for Edinburg:

“Good evening, Mary and City Councilmembers. My name is Verónica Gonzáles. I am a resident of the City of Edinburg, and I also serve as Vice President of Governmental and Community Relations at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Go Vaqueros.

“I was very pleased to see that the (Edinburg Economic Development Department) board was expanding to include a position for education representative because education and economic development are very strongly tied to one another. I truly believe when the education community succeeds, so does our community at large. Our greatest economic development tool is our skilled labor and educated human capital.

“I stand before you tonight to express my interest in serving on this (Edinburg Economic Development Department) board. I recognize there are many, many wonderful and qualified applicants, and it won’t be an easy decision for you tonight to limit it to the number that you have selected. I simply wanted to say that I believe that I am well-qualified for this position and that if you entrust me with this appointment, I will do my best to be a strong and collaborative voice for education, and look forward to contributing ideas to strengthening and growing our city’s economic position. Thank you, and good evening.”

In her application for the Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Department, she provided the following additional background and credentials:

“Verónica Gonzáles is a recognized leader in the public and private sectors, having more than 20 years of experience in negotiating and advocating to obtain results – as an attorney, mediator, legislator, fundraiser and now working in government and community relations for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She practiced law in the Rio Grande Valley. 

“During those years, she was recognized as a Super Lawyer four times in the Texas Super Lawyers and was named ‘30 Extraordinary Women in Law’ by Texas Lawyer. In 2004, she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, where she served four terms, two of which she was the Chair of the House Committee on Border and Intergovernmental Affairs. She is the first – and so far –  the only woman elected to represent House District 41 in the Texas House of Representatives. To this day, she remains the only female elected as a state representative from the Rio Grande Valley.

“Throughout her legislative career, she was named to several national committees and received numerous honors such as the “Legislative Champion Award” from the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, the “Patient Advocacy Award” from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the “Voice of the People Award” from the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, and was named one of eight “Ultimate Latinas” in the nation by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, recognizing her legislative achievements that benefit the business community.

“She was also selected as only one of 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans national to serve in the Aspen-Rodel Leadership Program. 

“At UTRGV, she oversees local state and federal governmental relations, community engagement, and economic development programs. She was the first in her family to go to college and credits education for her success and the money opportunities she has received. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors from Southwest Texas State University and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She serves on numerous boards throughout the Rio Grande Valley.”

The full list of the applications for membership on the Board of Directors for the city’s newly-formed Edinburg Economic Development Department attracted a Who’s Who in business, public policy, government, marketing, banking, real estate, law, and other fields.

That list follows, in the order provided in the updated Edinburg City Council agenda packet that went online on Monday, June 1, 2020. The applicants are identified by their name, home address in Edinburg, email address, employer, and employer’s address.

1. Roberto Montelongo
7000 Queens Drive, Edinburg
[email protected]
Koch Specialty Plant Services
12221 East Sam Houston Pkway N, Houston

2. Norma Ramírez
3904 View Point Drive, Edinburg
[email protected]
Sunny Produce, LLC
6500 South 23rd Street, Ste. 10, McAllen

3. Richard Mark García
909 N. McColl, Edinburg
[email protected]
Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1
902 Doolittle, Edinburg

4. Daniel Antonio Díaz
3225 Dutchess Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
South Texas Health Systems, McAllen

5. Hiren Govind, Edinburg
2708 South Business Highway 281
[email protected]
Qube Hotel Group
502 West Trenton Road

6. John Jett, MBA, CHFC
4739 S. Jackson Road, Edinburg
[email protected]
Jett Financial Group, LLC,
4739 Jackson Road, Edinburg 

7. Ponciano N. Longoria, P.E., CFM
3804 Anaya Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
TEDSI Infrastructure Group, Inc.
1201 E. Interstate 2, Mission

8. Moisés Segovia
2207 Jewel Cir, Edinburg
[email protected]
Life Star EMS
5219 S. McColl Road, Edinburg

9. Aaron (Ronny) Rivera
2512 Churchill Avenue, Edinburg
[email protected]
Rivera Funeral Home,
1901 Pecan Boulevard, McAllen

10. Daniel Treviño
1708 Damasco Avenue, Edinburg
[email protected]
Keystone Professional Services
14220 N. Rooth Road, Edinburg
HydroPro Solutions
907 Rockmoor, Georgetown

11. Jeffrey Alvarado, DDS
2823 Fuente De Paz, Edinburg
[email protected]
The Lakes Family Dental, PLLC
3103 Center Point, Edinburg

12. Agustín Hernández, Jr.
1610 Alcañiz Drive, Edinburg
[email protected]
Hernández Law Group
213 W Interstate 2, Suite A, Pharr

13. Michael Anthony Kent
419 N. Loto Lane, Apt. 4, Edinburg
[email protected]
F&T Valley Motor Sports, LLC
1007 E. I-2, Pharr

14. Fern McClaugherty
1801 N. McColl Road, Edinburg
[email protected]
Pinky’s Upholstery, 1801 N. McColl Road, Edinburg

15. Lee Castro
4610 South Jackson Road, Edinburg
[email protected]
Legacy Chapels, 4610 South Jackson Road, Edinburg

16. Dawn Elsik
1607 N. Sugar Road, Edinburg
[email protected]
Keller Real Estate Investments, McAllen

17. Raúl Reséndiz
151o S. Sugar Road, Edinburg
Raul Reséndez State Farm Insurance
1510 S Sugar Rd., Suite #1, Edinburg

18. Michael J. Williamson
1501 Jonquil Avenue, McAllen
[email protected]
Texas National Bank
4908 South Jackson Road, Edinburg 78539

19. Dora Zamora-Flores
1806 Woods Drive, Edinburg
[email protected]
GOAL Pediatric Health Weight Program

20. Dr. Fernando Chapa
2608 Trisha Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
South Texas College
3201 W. Pecan, McAllen

21. Verónica Gonzáles
1201 W. University Drive, Edinburg
[email protected]
Vice President of Governmental and Community Relations
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

22. Cesar E. Castro
2104 Arlina Drive, Edinburg
[email protected]
Region One Education Center, Edinburg

23. Valeria Chong
215 Rebecca Dr., Edinburg
[email protected]
South Texas Literacy Coalition
2526 W. Freddy González, Edinburg

24. Lydia Levant
4309 Mile 8 1/2 Road, Edinburg
[email protected]
DGM Furniture Sales
302 S. Jackson Road, Edinburg

25. Dalia Buss
1002 South 15th Avenue, Edinburg
[email protected]
Buss Mechanical Service, LLC

26. Frank Lara
1101 W. Samano Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
Social Media Manager Company

27. Savannah González
107 E. Samano Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
Law Office of Savannah González
107 E. Samano Street, Edinburg

28. Roland Gómez
3816 Anaya Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
City of Pharr

29. Sabrina Walker Hernández
3472 Los Lagos Drive, Edinburg
[email protected]
Supporting World Hope
P.O. Box 3122

30. Edna Peña
1808 Ann Street, Edinburg
[email protected]
Former Principal–ECISD; Small Business Owner, Real Estate and Insurance agent

31. Josué “Josh” Vázquez
619 Edgewood Avenue, Edinburg
[email protected]
Workforce Solutions
Lower Rio Work Force Board
3102 W. Business 83, McAllen

Also according to the city council agenda packet:

The City Council shall appoint each Director based on experience, accomplishments, and educational background. All appointed members of the Board shall be residents of the City of Edinburg or a majority owner or executive management of a business or organization with the majority of its operations within the City of Edinburg.

Persons selected shall be serving or have served in a management of otherwise professional capacity within the following categories:

Private Sector: 

Four (4) persons representing private sector businesses among the following industries: manufacturing, trade, construction, retail, automotive, food services, lodging, healthcare, financial services, sports, entertainment, transportation, storage, telecommunications, utilities, media, and professional services.

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