(The above photo shows Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell at his re-election announcement event. Photo: Ron Whitlock/Ron Whitlock Reports)
HARLINGEN, RGV – Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell has urged cities across the Rio Grande Valley to support the legislative agenda of UTRGV and its four-year school of medicine.
Boswell made the plea when asked by reporter Ron Whitlock what Harlingen’s legislative agenda is. The 86th regular legislative session starts in Austin next month.
“As Harlingen has had for at least the last 12 years and the last six or seven sessions, our top agenda item is supporting the growth of the School of Medicine and all of the University of Texas RGV,” Boswell said.
“This is a regional project and I think all of our cities need to work together to support that as a top priority.”
Asked about other top legislative agenda items for Harlingen, Boswell said:
“In addition to that (the School of Medicine) we have TSTC, which we want to make sure remains one of the crown jewels of Harlingen. We want to see it well-funded. Also, our port, that it has the support it needs to continue to grow and develop. And we want to support our school district and their agenda as well.”
Boswell spoke about the upcoming legislative session in an interview Whitlock conducted at the Smoke Restaurant in Harlingen. Boswell was there to announce his intention to run for re-election as mayor in the city commission elections next May. He said he will seek a fifth term of office.
“It was once said mayors need to be dreamers. Part of the job is to have that vision and to look ahead and see where our city can go. The city of Harlingen is entitled to have high expectations. I really want to keep dreaming,” Boswell told Whitlock.
Boswell listed some of the successes Harlingen has achieved during his tenure as mayor.
“We have had some phenomenal success these past few years. Everything from the School of Medicine, 75 acres right here in the heart of our medical district; 35 acres of these having just been accepted by the University of Texas System to build an Institute of Neurosciences. Who would have dreamed we would have been able to have that kind of research facility right here in Harlingen?” Boswell asked.
“Everything that is going on at our airport with two new airlines announcing commercial service. The almost $20 million of investment that the FAA is putting into our airport, that is the second highest amount of grant money for any airport in the state of Texas, second only to DFW.
“Who would have dreamed that we can take a 50-year-old eyesore in the middle of our downtown and finally turn into something vibrant, an asset for our downtown with a $5 million investment?
The list of achievements goes on and on, Boswell said.
Asked if the quality of life for Harlingen residents has improved in recent years, Boswell told Whitlock:
“I think it is better than it has ever been. I think we see that through the growth you see as you drive around the city. You see new construction or projects that have just been completed. It is a place where people want to come and invest. We have seen the strongest retail sales tax growth of nearly community in the Valley with almost 24 months of successive growth. This is a great moment for our city.”
Asked what he said to those who argue that it is time for a change of leadership in Harlingen, Boswell said:
“If voters think I am doing a good job and they like what they see, they like the progress they are seeing, then they can keep me here for another three years. What we try to do every single day is have high expectations for ourselves. That is certainly what I have. I have high expectations for the staff, our city commission has high expectations for every one of our departments and we keep pushing to make these dreams a reality.
“Who would have dreamed that we would have a medical school? Who would have dreamed that we would have an Institute of Neurosciences? Or that we would have all this growth and excitement out at the airport? Every single day we push to achieve the high expectations for the city and that the people of the city have for us.”
Asked if he would like to tell the residents of Harlingen anything else, Boswell said: “I hope people come out and vote in May, and that they vote in favor of continuing the success we have had in our city. We encourage everybody to come out and do that.”
Boswell is 35 year resident of Harlingen and was born and raised in the Valley. After graduating from San Benito High School, he obtained his Finance degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his law degree from Southern Methodist University.
Boswell is partner in Curtis and Boswell, L.L.P. in Harlingen and is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a past President of the Cameron County Bar Association, Past President of the Rio Grande Council Boy Scouts of America, Past President of the Lower Rio Grande Development Council and past Chairman of the Harlingen Industrial Foundation.
Boswell has served on numerous Boards and committees and served 3 terms on the Harlingen City Commission before becoming Mayor in 2007. He is married to Anita Boswell and they have three children Megan, Thomas and Carrie.
In a news release announcing his decision to seek a fifth term as mayor, Boswell said his administration has helped with the creation of nearly 3,500 new jobs, reduced the city’s unemployment rate from 11 percent to 5.5 percent, and expanded the retail and restaurant sector.
Indeed, he said 500,000 square feet of shopping and eating establishments has been added, citing Bass Pro Shops and Sam’s, with nearly $200 million in new capital investment by businesses locating and expanding in Harlingen.
Boswell also touted his record on public safety. He said there has been a five-year downward trend in the crime rate, with violent and property crimes dropping in half.
“Public safety has been a number one issue for me and I know how important that is to our community. I’ve also made it a priority to target run-down buildings and structures which have been havens for gang activity, drugs and graffiti,” Boswell said in his news release.
Boswell said he sees more great things on the horizon for Harlingen. “We’ve really reached a tipping point where we’re going to continue see a lot more positive growth, new retail and more commercial expansion,” he said.
The news release also listed Boswell’s priorities for a new term, should the voters approve.
“Strengthening our partnership with UT-RGV and the development of the Institute of Neurosciences, continuing our emphasis on public safety, increasing manufacturing jobs in our industrial parks, attracting more retail and continued attention to Downtown and beautification of the City are all the ingredients to continued momentum for growth and prosperity. I love my City and I love serving the citizens of Harlingen. I’m asking for their vote so that together we can continue the progress our great city.”
As he has in the past, Boswell could draw opponents in the mayoral race. One of those who says he will run is inventor, publisher and veteran Silvestre ‘Silver’ Treviño.
Treviño worked for the federal government for 35 years, including four years in the Marine Corps. He was an adjudications officer for the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship & Immigration Services.
Treviño invented a golf accessory called Ready Tee and is publisher of a number of magazines, including Voters Voice RGV magazine. He is a former baseball coach and also teachers guitar and chess.
Asked why he is running for mayor, Treviño said:
“I believe I can bring a lot of jobs to Harlingen, between 1,500 and 3,000 in different areas. I want to give small businesses a better opportunity to succeed. We also have to help veterans with housing.
“There was a story in Texas Monthly that said Harlingen has a 35 percent poverty rate. We need to fix that. We need a better balance between the rich and the middle class and help the poor.
“I have been very involved in the community. People know me. I commit to as much community service as I can.”
Treviño reiterated that his top campaign issue will be jobs.
“Harlingen has slipped behind other parts of the Valley, like McAllen and Brownsville. We have to help small businesses. We need good paying jobs. People cannot survive on $8 or $9 an hour,” he said.