McALLEN, RGV – Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu and his family had a lot to celebrate this New Year’s Day.
Cantu was sworn into office by his old law school roommate, state District Judge David Sanchez of Brownsville, marking the beginning of his term in office. The event took place at the Valencia Event Center in south McAllen, a facility Cantu owns.
After serving as a city commissioner in Pharr, Eddie Cantu was elected Hidalgo County Commissioner for Precinct 2 after defeating the 14-year incumbent Hector “Tito” Palacios in last March’s Democratic Party primary election. Ten months later Cantu takes office.
Cantu said that from the beginning of his campaign he wanted to be very clear on what his priorities would be if elected into office. On Thursday, prior to discussing his plans, Cantu explained how future projects would be funded.
“We’re going to get those projects funded, like I told you during the campaign, through partnerships and with somebody else’s money, in this case, the MPO’s money,” Eddie said. “Instead of using our own money, we are going to partner, and you’re going hear that term a lot in this presentation. We’re going to partner, partner, partner for four years.”
The Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is tasked with addressing the mobility goals of the communities within the urbanized area of Hidalgo County. It works with Hidalgo County, cities within the county, transit providers, and the Texas Department of Transportation to plan for the future transportation needs of this metropolitan area. Every metropolitan area with a population of 50,000 or more must have a designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
In his presentation prior to being sworn in, Cantu discussed his dedication to maintaining and expanding roads. His future road expansion projects include the East and West Eldora Project, the Sioux Road Project, the Expressway 83 and 2nd Street Project, and the Cesar Chavez Road Project. All of these projects will expand important roads in the County of Hidalgo by increasing lanes and allowing more traffic, he said. However, road expansion projects have the potential to do more than provide traffic relief. According to the new commissioner, growth in roads has the potential to create “economic development opportunities” that can benefit the county in many different ways.
The construction costs of these projects exceed $60 million, Cantu said.
Extending beyond his road projects Cantu and his team plan on tackling other issues in Hidalgo County. Cantu said he plans to improve the county’s drainage system by working directly with the Hidalgo County Drainage District on specific projects that will create floodgates, repair structures to key channels, and provide other improvements to the drainage infrastructure. In addition, Cantu voiced the importance of renovating and maintaining existing facilities, such as the San Juan Community Resource Center, the Alamo Community Resource Center and Park, the Charles E. Curtis Park, the Las Milpas Park, and the Lopezville Park.
“It’s exciting. There are a lot of things that haven’t been done before that we are planning on doing,” Cantu said. “The fact that it has never been done doesn’t matter to myself and my team. We’re going to find a way to get it done.”
Cantu’s presentation ended with optimistic remarks emphasizing teamwork. One of his top supporters echoed those comments.
“We can bring South Texas together as a region,” said Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez, another roommate of Cantu’s at UT Law School in Austin and brother of the state district judge that administered Cantu’s oath.
“Working together, leaders of the counties around South Texas plan on bringing in money to meet the needs of the growing area. I think we’re going to have a lot of great things in store for the future,” said Dan Sanchez told the Rio Grande Guardian.
“South Texas is about to explode. And with the friendship and leadership of Eddie Cantu and the rest of the folks here in Hidalgo County, I think great things are going to happen.”