PHARR, Texas – Former Pharr mayor and current city commissioner Ricardo Medina says this is a great time be living his city.
Medina said hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into major infrastructure projects that will benefit Pharr residents without taxes being raised. He paid tribute to the vision of Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez and his fellow commissioners.
“Since the mayor got elected back in 2015 the growth that we have had in the city of Pharr has been incredible. We have never had this kind of growth before. It is all because of the mayor’s efforts,” Medina said.
Medina recalled a conversation he had with Hernandez before he ran for mayor in 2015.
“I remember thinking, why is he running for mayor when he has had such a successful business. He makes a lot of money as a doctor and a surgeon. He responded, well, if I am going to complain about what is going on I might as well do something about it.”
Medina said Hernandez puts more time in to Pharr events than he does, and he is retired.
“To tell you the truth, even though I am retired he makes more time to go to things than I do. I have been very impressed with him. The time he has invested. And it is all for the benefit of the City of Pharr.”
Not everyone agrees with Medina. During the recent city commission elections there was spirited debate between candidates on different slates. The incumbents all won, but their opponents ran them hard. Medina was not on the ballot.
“Unfortunately, some of our residents listen to all the false advertisements that go on and they believe it is true. All these things that are said, it is not true. Sometimes people believe it and they go vote based on what they hear. They don’t take the time to figure out if it is true or not. That is unfortunate,” Medina said.
“Every time there is an election they feel that they need to do something to win. They start lying about things and making things up.”
Medina said on the whole the voters of Pharr responded well to the election campaign run by the incumbents on the ballot.
“People have responded very positively to our campaign and I think it is because of the accomplishments we have done. The mayor has been a big part of that. Millions and millions of dollars of new investments in the City of Pharr.”
Asked for examples of those major investments, Medina rattled off a lot of projects.
“Let’s start with the $63 million in infrastructure for drainage just in Las Milpas, south Pharr. That is a lot of money,” Medina said.
“I keep telling people, look at all the things we are doing, the interchange, $350 million. We are going to do an expressway coming from our bridge all the way to Edinburg. It is going to be a $250 million project. And we are going to start this project this year.”
Medina continued to list the new investments.
“All those millions of dollars we invested in city hall, millions of dollars, the Pepe Salinas Center, millions of dollars. That building we are doing on Sioux Road, millions of dollars. We have not raised the taxes for the people. Nothing comes free but it is because of the efforts of the mayor and the city commission. It is a great thing to be living in the city of Pharr right now.”
Medina then spoke about Pharr’s crown jewel, the international bridge it shares with Reynosa.
He pointed out that the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge is the only full-service commercial port of entry in the area. He said it continues to be an economic engine for the region, as one of the busiest ports of entry in the state and nation.
Currently, the bridge ranks third in the nation for trade with Mexico, the seventh-largest, fastest-growing land port of entry nationally, the number one crosser of produce, and the top exporter of automotive, technology, and petroleum gas. The Pharr-Reynosa Bridge now crosses 65 percent of the nation’s produce imported from Mexico and has reported over $36 billion in annual trade.
“We are going to be expanding the bridge. We make $14 million a year in revenues from the bridge for the citizens of Pharr. We are going to be expanding it, investing in it, with a new span. Again, millions and millions of dollars in the bridge. It benefits the City of Pharr because all of those things constitute revenue for us.”
Having a continuous stream of revenue from the bridge provides flexibility for the city commission, Medina explained.
“We don’t have to raise taxes and we can afford to pay our employees. The better you pay your employee, the better employee you get. We are very competitive with salaries because we can afford it and we want quality people to work for our citizens.”
Medina predicted the Pharr City Commission’s decision to purchase Hidalgo County EMS ambulances and equipment for $1 million will prove a wise investment.
“The ambulance deal was a steal. If you look at the debt and what the ambulance company is worth, we got a steal on that thing. Think about it, 98 ambulances. We can help provide service to neighboring communities and provide better care to the people. We are not in it to make money. We are in it to provide a quality service for the residents in the neighboring communities.”
Medina said he is proud to serve on a city commission that has vision. In fact, he said, politicians should not run for office if they do not have it.
“Right now we have a mayor and a commission that has a vision. That is what you need. If you do not have a vision you are not going to get anywhere. It is great to be a politician that wins elections, but what is your vision? What are you going to do when you get there?”
Medina finished his exclusive interview by talking about the City of Pharr’s latest innovative venture, providing one gigabyte broadband to every resident and business in the city. Medina said this is an example of Mayor Hernandez listening to his colleagues.
“The mayor listens to the commission. Investing in high-speed Internet came out of one of our meetings. We went to Nashville, Tennessee. That city had high-speed Internet throughout the city. They were able to attract businesses that needed high-speed Internet. We came back and said, mayor, if we do high-speed Internet, we are going to be able to get all these businesses that require that. Well, back then he started working on it and now we have accomplishment it. We are going to invest $40 million in laying the fiber-optic cables. It will be the best service available in the whole of Texas, providing faster connectivity than anywhere else. That is going to be a great thing. And it is all because people have a vision.”
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