ALAMO, Texas – Hidalgo County Commissioner Eddie Cantu says colonia groups can help their cause by separating their wish lists along federal, state, and county lines.

Cantu said there was a recent letter to a local paper from a colonia group that lumped all their agenda items together. He said that is not helpful.

“The colonia groups are very necessary but I sometimes think that they cloud the issue and what I mean by that is they’ll group eight issues together. And not all the eight issues are state-related or county-related. Some of them are federal, some of them are state and some of them are county,” Cantu said.

“As long as they’re talking to the right people (things are okay). (They can say) hey, county, help us with this. And what we can help them with are local dollars. Obviously we can also advocate for them to the state. But let’s make a clear path; this is what the county can help with, this is what the state can help with, and this is what the federal government can help with.”

Cantu, pictured above, made his remarks in an interview with reporters at a recent Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force meeting. It was held at a community center in south Alamo specifically to hear from colonia residents. 

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez set up the task force to address his county’s high poverty levels.

“There was a letter, I believe it was sent to The Monitor recently, and they (a colonia group) had just thrown all eight issues together. And I mean, I’d love to help but there’s only certain things I can do, right? I can’t control the immigration issue because that’s a federal issue. And so when you put them all together, it’s really difficult when you can carve them out and say this is how you can help us. We would gladly help. We do listen to them.”

Cantu said Hidalgo County Commissioners Court has made good progress in recent years in improving living conditions in colonias.

“We brought (street) lightning in the last seven years when you didn’t have lightning in the colonias before. We’re trying to bring (a) trash (collection service) to the colonias, to the rural areas. We haven’t had (a) trash (collection service) in the rural areas ever. Now, everybody has a trash can at their house,” Cantu said.

“That should be a necessity but unfortunately the way the state statutes and (Texas) Constitution are written, it is really difficult to get a trash (collection service) out into the colonias. But, we’re trying to deal with that issue.”

Cantu said the county has also introduced code enforcement. 

“We didn’t used to have code enforcement in the rural areas. But now, for instance, if your neighbor has a weedy lot or junk tires or whatever… it used to be until about five years ago that you couldn’t call the county to work on that. Now, you can call the county and we can go out there and pick up trash and fine people that are making a mess in the community. So, we’re trying to bring what the cities already have been doing for 50 years; we’re trying to bring that into the rural area of our community.”

Here is a video recording of the interview with Commission Cantu at the Prosperity Task Force event:


Editor’s Note: The above video news story is the third in a six-part series on the town hall meeting Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez and the Prosperity Task Force held in south Alamo. Part One focuses on the wrap-up remarks of colonia residents. Click to here to watch it. Part Two focuses on an interview with Judge Cortez. Click here to watch it.

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