HARLINGEN, Texas – As first reported in the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, a group of mayors from South Texas met in Harlingen on Tuesday to form the South Texas Alliance of Cities.
They signed a compact that said in part: “With great combined effect, the South Texas region – through the aligned efforts of its mayors – can direct unified efforts in advocacy, policy and economic development toward mutual goals that are important for the future of our communities.”
The compact was signed by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Brownsville Mayor John Cowen, Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza, Harlingen Mayor Norma Sepulveda, Mission Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza, and McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos.
Weslaco Mayor David Suarez could not attend and he was replaced by Weslaco City Commissioner Israel Gonzalez. Former Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez was also present.
The meeting was held at the corporate office of Texas Regional Bank.
Here is a copy of the compact:
A Compact of Mayors for a South Texas Alliance of Cities
The undersigned mayors, assembled inn the City of Harlingen, on May 23, 20223, to establish an Alliance of South Texas Cities;
Motivated by the mutual economic, civic, and cultural interests of our communities in the future of our state and nation;
Acknowledging the deep, generational ties that South Texas residents have shared throughout our collective history;
Resolved that by leveraging its combined economic and political strength through strategic cooperation of mayors in such an Alliance of South Texas cities,
We declare that:
- According to latest Census data, the region of South Texas – from San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley – is home to over five million people, and it remains one of the fastest growing areas of the United States.
- With established and emerging anchors of the state and national economies, the South Texas region comprises strategic advantages in logistics, real estate and utilities, and workforce generally and across many target sectors, including energy, information technology, advanced manufacturing, agriculture and space. According to the Texas Economic Development Corporation, employment in the region is over two million, with gross domestic products of over $200 billion annually.
- Over the past decade, the South Texas population grew by nearly 20%, while productivity increased by over 40%, according to the Texas Economic Development Corporation. Similarly, exports from the region more than doubled during that time.
- The cultural heritage of South Texas is inseparable from its challenged history as a land cultivated and fought for by people throughout the world, from indigenous Mexicans and Americans to Spanish colonists and migrants from Europe and Asia. Today, it is a community of people connected largely by shared generational Latino heritage, predominantly Mexican American. This is experienced in nearly every aspect of life in South Texas communities, including commerce, and it is the foundation of the region’s irreplicable identity.
- The challenges faced by the communities of our region are not faced alone, and they have implications for the future prosperity of all nations in North, Central and South America. They range from increasing migration across the southern border directly into South Texas, long overdue infrastructure investments to modernize and accommodate projected growth (including housing, transportation, and utilities), revitalizing and empowering communities where poverty has been entrenched for generations, educating and re-skilling a multilingual workforce of the future, mitigating the effects of climate change.
- With great combined effect, the South Texas region – through the aligned efforts of its mayors – can direct unified efforts in advocacy, policy and economic development toward mutual goals that are important for the future of our communities. These goals will be articulated in future meetings of the Alliance.
- On March 20, 2023, an exploratory meeting was held in Weslaco, Texas to discuss the formation of an alliance of South Texas mayors. In attendance were Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio; David Suarez, Mayor of Weslaco; Trey Mendez, Mayor of Brownsville; Norma Sepulveda Mayor of Harlingen; Ramiro Garza Mayor of Edinburg; Norie Gonzales Garza, Mayor of Mission; Javier Villalobos, Mayor of McAllen.
- By establishing this Compact, the undersigned mayors form an Alliance of South Texas Cities and commit to further cooperation to identify, develop and support partnerships among the communities we represent in order to advance the mutual interests of our region. We commit to convening an Alliance regularly – at least once annually – with an initial meeting to establish guidelines for governance and membership.
Harlingen, Texas, May 23 2023.
John Cowen, mayor, City of Brownsville, TX
Norma Sepulveda, mayor, City of Harlingen, TX
Norie Gonzalez Garza, mayor, City of Mission, TX
David Suarez, mayor, City of Weslaco, TX
Ramiro Garza, Jr., mayor City of Edinburg, TX
Javier Villalobos, mayor, City of McAllen, TX
Ron Nirenberg, mayor of San Antonio, TX
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