EDINBURG, RGV – In a recent editorial, the Advance News Journal said the City of Donna deserves first place for a new award honoring “the dirtiest politics ever.”
Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Gus Garcia might beg to differ. Garcia has sent a grievance complaint to the City of Edinburg’s human resources department over the conduct of Edinburg council member and mayoral candidate Richard Molina and some of his campaign workers.
“This attack on my character and reputation have caused me great distress, and as a result I am no longer able to sleep,” the letter states. Garcia also says in the letter that the Molina camp has accused him of stealing, collusion, and back-door dealing.
Reached by phone, Molina said he was working at a polling location and would call back. When he does the Rio Grande Guardian will post his reaction to Garcia’s claims.
Editor’s Note: A link to Garcia’s 1,736-word letter to the City of Edinburg’s HR department is at the end of this story.
Interviewed by phone, Garcia said he has not and will not endorse any candidate for mayor. He also said he did not want to say much more than was in the letter. “It speaks for itself,” he said. Garcia said the grievance complaint was sent to HR, his board of directors and certain “need to know” people. Soon afterwards the letter mysteriously appeared on Facebook.
“It is a pending investigation at this point so there is not a lot I can talk about,” Garcia said.
In his interview, Garcia said it has been difficult to do his job because of constant attacks and character assassination by the Molina camp. He also said potential developers are holding back from making investment decisions due to turmoil in a city that once prided itself on stability and continuity.
“Having a negative election campaign or disparaging election campaign can hurt our work, it can undermine our efforts to bring in business,” Garcia said. “Developers want stability, they want to know when they come to a community that there is stability in that community. Our credit rating is judged in part by stability. So, whenever there is negativity or an appearance of instability, it is concerning. We need to promote a stable and thriving community.”
Asked to explain how a city’s credit rating can be affected by a dirty election campaign, Garcia said: “It is not just a question of whether we are solvent or that we have sufficient reserves, more than are required, the credit rating is also affected by projections of what might happen in the next ten years. Is their qualified leadership? Is there stability? Will decisions be made from a professional standpoint? Are you maintaining a level of professionalism, so you have a stable government and a stable economy? Will you make one decision today and then retract it tomorrow? All of those things are important when it comes to the rating of a city and that in turn affects your bond rating, it affects how much you can borrow money for. That impacts how many projects you can take on. For example, if you want to do a $10 million bond, you might pay a million dollars a year on a low interest loan, or you might pay $1.5 million a year on a high interest loan. It affects the city in more ways than one.”
Asked if there are specific examples of developers choosing not to invest in Edinburg due to things that have happened in the current campaign, Garcia said:
“There are investors that are on hold on whether or not they want to come into the community, because of what is happening right now. Millions of dollars are at stake. What can I say? I am looking forward to the future. I am looking for the election to be over, so we can get back on track and move forward, whatever leadership is there.”
Asked if he could work with Molina, should the current city councilman win his mayoral race against incumbent Richard Garcia (no relation), EDC chief Garcia said: “That is something we are going to have to do as a community. We will have to sit down with the leadership and say, let’s move forward. We are all prepared to work with whomever is at the helm of our city, whichever candidate. We will do everything we can to work in a positive way. I think all the candidates have the best intentions. They all want to move forward in a positive way.”
Asked if potential developers would pull out of investing in Edinburg if a certain candidate wins control of the city council, Garcia said: “I don’t think that is based on the candidate. They just want to know that things are going to be stable. I think we will be able to recoup and bring them back. Edinburg is a great place to live and invest. We need to get this election over with, to move forward and I think we will be fine. It is a great city. There is great opportunity here.”
Garcia’s comments in his interview contrast somewhat to the tone of the letter he sent to Edinburg’s Human Resource department. Asked why has not contacted law enforcement or indeed taken legal action, Garcia said: “I thought what I did was going to the right sources. I am going to leave it like that and let the city handle it.” Asked if Molina’s campaign workers have visited the EDC offices and harassed staff, Garcia said: “I think the letter speaks for itself.”
Garcia said he was “disappointed” his letter was posted on Facebook.
“It just shows you how Facebook is being used these days. I was a little bit taken aback when I learned the letter had been placed on social media. Social media can be used for so many good things. Unfortunately, people are taking advantage of the power of social media, using it for things that are hurtful to people. They do not realize people have families, people have careers. It is unfortunate when social media is used to bully or disparage a person’s reputation or character. It has real consequences on their lives, long-term. That stuff is out there forever. Basically, my letter was a call for help. It has gotten out there and I am not happy about it.”
Click here to read the letter Gus Garcia sent to the City of Edinburg’s HR department.