PHARR, RGV – Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez has dismissed claims that he tried to poach one of the City of McAllen’s three city managers to become manager of his city.
Hernandez said new city manager Alex Meade was always his first choice.
“Alex is a crown jewel, we had been chasing him for a while,” Hernandez told the Rio Grande Guardian and RGV Public Radio 88 FM.
The McAllen Monitor reported that Pharr had made contacts with McAllen’s three assistant city managers but they rebuffed their neighboring city. The three assistant city managers are Jeff Johnston, Michelle Rivera, and Joe Vera.
“They were not interested,” McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez told the Monitor. “And that says a lot about our community.”
Hernandez said he never tried to poach McAllen staff.
“For the record, and to clear it up, I met with our neighbor, (Mayor) Jim Darling at the City of McAllen and we discussed the many successes of the Rio Grande Valley, including the change in leadership at the City of Pharr’s city manager level. As I made it clear to him, there is no way that the City of Pharr leadership would disrespect the City of McAllen or its leadership by circumventing the mayor or its commission by trying to pull talent away from the great city of McAllen,” Hernandez said.
“I would never do such a thing and, in fact, it never occurred. I never reached out to them (McAllen’s assistant city managers) and for the record would never have disrespected my good friend, the great mayor of McAllen, Jim Darling and the entire commission.”
Hernandez pointed out that Pharr City Commission asked him to handle the recruitment of a new city manager as well as all necessary negotiations. He said he has nothing but respect for the leadership of McAllen.
“I would have the integrity, the honesty to go speak with them directly. If I really wanted to do that I would have done that directly, not in a mischievous way. It was said in The Monitor and it was an inappropriate and inaccurate statement. Alex Meade was always our first choice, from day one.”
Meade previously served as chief executive officer of Mission Economic Development Corporation. Asked about Meade’s attributes, Hernandez said:
“It has been no secret that the minute our city manager Juan Guerra, who was an excellent city manager, left, we knew we needed someone with equal caliber or better. That is exactly why we chose Mr. Alex Meade. He was our No. 1 choice, the one we were chasing. I was charged by the commission to enter into a contract for a city manager. We are excited he took us into consideration and accepted. It says a lot about his character that he knows the city is up and moving.”
Guerra is now city manager of Edinburg. Hernandez said of Guerra: “He did a great job for the City of Pharr. We were indebted to him and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Hernandez made his comments the day after Meade conducted his first Pharr city commission meeting as city manager. He spoke at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new downtown park that is to be built adjacent to Pharr city hall. Meade was at the groundbreaking ceremony, along with city commissioners and chamber of commerce staff.
“Our goal is to get people out and about, to get them to visit our local shops. It provides easy access to our downtown city hall and gives citizens the ability to come and talk to city leaders at city hall,” Hernandez said of the downtown park project.
“The park is going to be highlighted with a lot of water features, a lot of green space. On the south side of the building we will have some food, with a food truck parking area. There will be an outdoor amphitheater with electronic lighting that will be festive in nature.”
As foot traffic grows, Hernandez said, the city will host festivities in the park, both at midday and in the evening.
“I think it will be a huge asset for the downtown traders. They will get more foot traffic,” Hernandez added.