McALLEN, RGV – Big changes are in store for the City of McAllen’s TV cable network if businessman Othal Brand, Jr., is elected mayor.
Brand says MCN carries too many “puff pieces” about the city, the mayor and city commissioners for his liking. He said he wants to open the network up to local community groups like the Sierra Club.
“I have not really mentioned this on the campaign trail but something has to be done about McAllen Cable Network. The channel belongs to the people, to the taxpayers. But, it is being used for public relations,” Brand said.
“If I am elected mayor there will be big changes. We will have accountability, transparency and open government, and that includes our TV channel. I don’t want the cameras following me around. I will not go on the channel. Just leave me alone to do my job.”
Brand says there must be more public relations staff running the City’s cable channel than there are news reporters at Channels 4 or 5. “McAllen Cable Network puts out one-sided information. That’s why nobody watches it. I plan to do something about that.”
Asked if he could carry out his promise to “shake things up” when he has to work with six city commissioners, Brand ran through some of the commissioners that might vote with him on key issues.
“John Ingram has the same views as me on many things. Omar Quintanilla will provide fresh blood, he is not another cookie cutter commissioner. That would mean I would have to persuade one of the other four to vote with me. One in four, I’ll take those chances all day long.”
Asked what other promises he was making, Brand said that, if elected mayor, he would not have a Christmas Parade or a State of the City address. “Too grandiose, too much showmanship,” he said.
Brand said he was also “wants to take a closer look” at how McAllen can help the neighboring city of Hidalgo. He noted that thousands of Mexican shoppers cross the Hidalgo International Bridge but spend hardly any money in the city. Instead, the jump on a bus and head to McAllen. He said he would like to see a hike and bike trail extend from McAllen all the way south to historic, downtown, Hidalgo, utilizing Hidalgo County Water Improvement District No. 3 land and waterways.
“If the City of Hidalgo is interested in partnering on this, it could happen. We need to find a way of getting a hike and bile trail around our airport,” Brand said.
The Rio Grande Guardian caught up with Brand on Election Day as he paid a visit to the Palmview Community Center, on Jordan Avenue in south McAllen. Brand said he is counting on a lot of support from the less affluent south side of the city.
Asked how the campaign was going, Brand said: “Very well. People are telling me, we voted for Jim last time but now we are going with you. People want change. They want transparency.”
He said he was “encouraged” that of the local groups, only the firefighters had endorsed Darling. “Jim could not get the police to back him, or the realtors or Hidalgo County Democratic Party to endorse him. That is a good sign for us.”
Brand said he was particularly encouraged that Hidalgo County Democratic Party under Ric Godinez had declined to endorse Mayor Darling. “What I love about the Valley is that party politics is insignificant at the local level. We need to take party politics out of the equation. That is great for McAllen.”
Asked if he had any other message for McAllen residents, Brand said: “Get out and vote. Be involved in the process. We can have a bigger turnout than at any time since my Dad was mayor.”