EDINBURG, RGV – Usually, mayors giving speeches at state of the city addresses stick rigidly to how a municipality has been doing and what is on the horizon.
Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia deviated from this approach on Thursday. Yes, he said, Edinburg, the fastest growing city in the Rio Grande Valley, is doing “fantastic” and is becoming a destination city for entertainment and leisure.
But, he also focused on politics and gave his personal take on some of the divisive rhetoric being used in the U.S. presidential election. He did not mention Donald Trump by name but some people may deduce that this is who Garcia was talking about.
Here are Garcia’s closing remarks:
Here at the City of Edinburg, we work hard to reach and accomplish our goals. I like to think that we target the needs of our citizens regardless of their color, religion, income or social strata.
This is a presidential year and I would hope that we can expect the same from those that would lead us at the National level, be it in Congress or the White House.
Before I close I want to share some personal thoughts regarding that theme. Please be assured that my thoughts are not intended to favor any political party or candidate, instead my words are food for thought and a reminder that there is no substitute for hard work to accomplish our goals. Some of my words are my own and some are borrowed. I try to learn from others, especially from those who say it better.
As I said earlier, I am a history buff and I study history because I like a great story… because it’s interesting… because it’s relevant.
The well-known saying is that “if you don’t study history you are destined to repeat it.” Well, most of us don’t, so life events, human events, pretty much mirror themselves every 50 to 100 years.
To me history gives me an explanation as to why things in my world are happening as they are. I’m going to relate to you a little history that I feel relates to today. My apologies if anyone is offended by this story but sometimes history is not kind. And sometimes the truth hurts.
Many years ago, when I was a child, a former President was involved in a Presidential Campaign and in strategy sessions regarding the vote in the South. Be it truth or rumor, the allegedly told his campaign strategists: “Tell the lowest White that he is better than the highest Black and he’ll follow you blindly – you can pick his pocket, you can rob him blind and he will thank you for it.”
An ugly racist thing to hear, and in deference to this former President, it was during his watch that integration finally became a reality, that segregation became illegal, and we all thought diversity and equality would be the new face of our Nation. Today, as I look out into the audience I see varying shades of skin, I see diversity in culture, in religion, in customs, in ideas and I embrace it. So why is this relevant today?
Because ethnicity and diversity are once again at the very core of a Presidential election. But in my evaluation this all goes beyond the color of your skin, or your religious preference… at least for political purposes.
Today, as I watch the news mainstream within social media, I fear that a large segment of our society is ill. That illness is fear. That fear is cancerous. That fear, like cancer, is spreading rapidly, within our citizenship and our governmental bodies. That fear causes men to belittle or denigrate others who were born differently or with a different color or with a different gender or religion.
It is hurting you, it is hurting and killing your children, it is damaging families. It hurls shrapnel in many directions – sometimes fatally and bringing an end to the lives of those people who are unfortunate enough to be in its blast radius.
Today’s backward politics nurture, protect and feed that fear and are hurting millions of us every day; calling out to lottery of genetics or fortune of birth and lending a blind eye to earned merit.
The fear of country of origin… the reality is that 63 percent of the mass shootings in the United States have been committed by men who are home grown.
History tells us that when our leadership feeds on fears and allows violence to raise its ugly head in an attempt to maintain social or political control, we are in trouble.
This is an important time in our country. A very, very important time. The period in our country will be highlighted in history books for generations to come. Today, I think most of us still believe that education and hard work and not the color of your skin, or your choice of religion, or country of origin, are the formula for success.
I still believe in you, in us. In the America that our forefathers left their homeland for.
We have a path, a map and a destination. Equality and compassion will surely lead us all to success.
God Bless you and yours and for this one of a kind democracy we so proudly call ‘The United States of America.’
Thank you for coming!
On a related theme, Mayor Garcia gave a shout out to McAllen Mayor Jim Darling for his leadership during the surge in undocumented immigrants that came into South Texas a couple of years ago.
“In a time of crisis, with the immigration influx, he stood up to the plate and did what had to be done, what was humane. I want to commend him for not building walls but for building bridges.” Mayor Garcia asked Mayor Darling to stand and be recognized.
In a glossy, 30-page brochure about how things are going in Edinburg that was given out at the State of the City address, Mayor Garcia said Edinburg is fast becoming a destination city.
“We have something for everyone. There’s the upcoming Bert Ogden Arena, a new 8,500-seat facility (that will be) home to the RGV Vipers, and a soccer stadium for the region’s newest franchise, the RGV Toros,” Garcia wrote.
“To the promise of a bright and healthy future that lies within the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley medical school structures you now see changing the landscape of our beloved home.
“Meanwhile, the City Council and City of Edinburg continue to strive to provide the highest quality service worthy of a dynamic and growing county seat of some 89,000 residents. We’ve added more mobile and online services for the convenience of the public and continue to secure more police and fire personnel to protect life and property.”