EDINBURG, Texas – Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina has filed the paperwork to run for re-election.
The election takes place in November.
Interviewed by the Rio Grande Guardian soon after he filed his paperwork, Molina said: “I am running for re-election because Edinburg is the fastest growing city in the RGV. I think we have put together the complete team to run the city over the past four years. The city is progressing tremendously. I have been a part of that progress as the mayor. I want to continue doing that for another four years,” Molina said.
Molina said there are still some important projects “on the table” that need to be addressed. He put drainage at the top of the list.
“We have drainage issues that we still are tackling. We have tackled a bunch but there is still a bunch more to do. Also, lighting in the area. We have two parks that are pending. We have a downtown revitalization plan with an amphitheater and a parking garage, to alleviate some of the traffic at the courthouse. We have a Sam Houston renovation project, to make it a cultural arts-type and a convention center. So, we have so much on the table.”
As mayor, Molina introduced a ruling that an Edinburg elected official holding down the post he has can only run for two four-year terms. That means if successful in his re-election campaign, he will only have four more years to affect the change he wants to see in his city. He said that would be enough.
“Right now I have had overwhelming support from people wanting me to run again. I am happy to say people have reached out to me and they have encouraged me, ‘mayor, we need you for another four more years, we like what we are seeing with the city.’ Four more years and I think we can tackle some of these big issues.”
Asked what his major accomplishments have been as mayor, Molina said referenced drainage, making city parks more accessible, and helping small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am proud of tackling drainage issues. I am proud. As for the parks, one of the complaints was we did not have full accessibility for kids. We have upgraded all of our parks. And, we have helped small business with incentives during the pandemic. We are going to do it again. We have actually gone out there and accomplished so much in a short period of time. And, wow, it is four years.”
Molina acknowledged that any mayor of Edinburg is blessed to start with some incredible built in advantages, such as being the county seat and home to UT-Rio Grande Valley.
Talking about the healthcare arena he said: “We have a great relationship with UTRGV. We are the hub of the medical field because we are home to the medial school. We have added a tower over at South Texas Health System, which is going to employ another 200 to 300 people. Right now we are closing in our new children’s hospital at DHR with Driscoll. There we are going to employ another 300 to 400 people. So, all of these things we have accomplished.”
Asked what his platform will be in a second term, Molina said:
“My main platform is the downtown revitalization. When you cover the downtown area that is one of the things we need improvement on. You come around the courthouse, we get a lot of complaints about the parking, we are working on that. We get a lot of complaints about the drainage, we are working on that.”
Another platform issue is making Edinburg a destination city.
“People want to see a nightlife here where they can bring their families and their pets, which is why we are working on the amphitheater. We are going to renovate the Sam Houston Building, so you could have festivals from this end (Edinburg City Hall) all the way to the courthouse. We are trying to make it a hub, a center where people can have that nightlife with their families.”
Asked what the major complaints are from Edinburg residents, Molina said:
“Obviously the drainage, they want it to be fixed overnight. These are problems that have plagued the city for decades. At the same time, we are not going to fix them in four years. Even in the next four years we will not be able to tackle all the drainage issues. So, that will be left up to the next mayor. Even then they will be tackling these issues. So, probably No. 1 that we know we need to tackle is drainage.”
The second big issue to tackle, Molina said, is the city’s nightlife.
“No. 2 is the nightlife. But it is a different nightlife. We don’t get a big demand for clubs or things like that. We get a big demand for things like bowling alleys. Family entertainment. It is funny because I tell people all the time, people want to live in Edinburg but they want to party in McAllen. It is just the culture, the way it is. People that work in the city of McAllen live in Edinburg. It is just weird. They see this as more of a residential suburb of McAllen. They see that (McAllen) as more of the nightlife for younger people. Which is weird because this is also a college town.”
Molina was also asked about his plans to ensure Edinburg is “fully wired.” In other words, that all residents have access to affordable broadband at the highest speeds possible.
“Absolutely.” Molina said, when asked if broadband accessibility was a top issue. “I have spoken to the city manager on this topic. It is something that we are already working on. But the technology is so rapidly changing. You go to 4G and there is a 5G. You go to 5G and now they are talking about a 6G. So, one of the things that we recently did was put in broadband internet thanks to a grant we just received. We are starting off with our city buildings and our city parks. So, you can literally go to these facilities and use the broadband. It just got approved recently and we are working on that.”
Molina said to deliver a sweeping broadband infrastructure investment, Edinburg is going to have to collaborate with neighboring cities.
“To do it the right way we are going to have to do something collaboratively with the other cities so that it is uniform. It is not going to work if we all do separate things. So, we are going to have to work together on a regional approach to fix the issue. So that we can get up to the par on some of the bigger cities up north.”
Asked if he had any wrap-up remarks, Molina said: “I just want to encourage the voters to come out and vote this November. The voter turnout in the Rio Grande Valley is anywhere from seven to ten percent. It is just not a good voter turnout. I would just encourage people, if you want to get the funding that we deserve from Austin and from Washington, we need to have a loud voice. The powers that be in Austin and Washington look at the amount of people that vote in a certain area. We have to make sure we are heard, so we have to vote.”
Editor’s Note: A paid summer internship program administered by Pharr Economic Development Corporation saw two students from Vanguard Academy undertake three weeks of marketing work at the Rio Grande Guardian. One of the assignments Melanie Mejia and Freddy Sandoval had to complete was interviewing a local mayor. The two students interviewed Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina about his first term in office and why he will be seeking another four years in the November election.
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