EDINBURG, Texas – Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina says there is aestablishment that controls the city and it does not want working people to have any say.
At his campaign kickoff event, Molina said that establishment comprises more than one family. He said it is trying to derail his re-election bid in order to stop working people from having any power.
“Let me make this very clear. They want to get rid of me because they want to get rid of you. They want to get rid of your voice. That’s what they want. They want things to go back to the status quo. They want to back to the compadre system where their families and friends get all the contracts,” Molina said, at a campaign kickoff event at Monster Car Wash on University Drive.
“I am telling you, there has been an establishment that has controlled Edinburg. And I am not going to mention any names because it is not just one family. It is a couple of them working together to run a monopoly. But, I am going to tell you this. We have made the positive changes and right now they are angry. Watch them on Facebook, watch them on Twitter. They are angry. They don’t want me to run again because they don’t want you all speaking up at the polls again, like you did the last time.”
Molina has served one four-year term as mayor and under a city ordinance he helped usher in, he can only serve for one more four-year term. The self-proclaimed “People’s Mayor,” is asking voters to ignore his arrest in 2019 for voter fraud. He said it was politically motivated.
A news release issued in 2017 by the Texas attorney general’s office said Molina directed voters to change their addresses in that year’s municipal election to places where they did not live. Molina won the 2017 election by 1,240 votes, unseating longtime incumbent Mayor Richard Garcia.
Public records show Molina was indicted on 11 counts of illegal voting and one count of engaging in organized election fraud, KVEO-TV has reported.
“The court previously scheduled Molina’s jury trial for June 1, 2020, but the pandemic led a delay. There is currently no new date for the trial, according to public records,” the TV station reported.
Molina touched upon his arrest in his campaign kickoff speech.
“Over the last four years with all the distractions and all of the rhetoric they have tried to derail our success. We work extremely hard. Have you all ever thought about this? Why is the opposition trying to so hard to get me out of office? Ask yourself that question. From arrest to recall to ordinances and yet you know they don’t stop at nothing,” Molina said.
Molina said the margin of his victory in 2017 was historic, by Edinburg’s standards.
“And that was your votes,” Molina told supporters. “The opposition is about lies, they are about rhetoric, they are about distraction, and they are about division. But they haven’t stopped us from doing what we are doing. Go and look at them streets. My Mom used to tell me, God rest her soul, Ricardo, action speak louder than words. She used to say, don’t talk about it, be about it.”
Molina started his speech by warning of the perils of running for political office.
“In order for you all to be involved in the political game, if you ever want to run for office, you better get close to God. You better be very spiritual. Your spouse needs to support you, boyfriend, girlfriend, whoever that is going to be, they need to be with you. My wife has stood with me from the very beginning of this journey. I want a round of applause for Dalia.”
Molina got that round of applause.
“It touched my heart that you are here because you people have struck with me from thick and thin. You guys no exactly what I am talking about.”
Molina said enacting term limits is good for democracy.
“I wanted to put term limits in place. No more career politicians. Two four year terms, for the mayor municipal judge, all appointed positions. I am pushing the school board to do the same thing and I am pushing the other cities,” he said.
When running for mayor four years ago Molina promised greater transparency. He said he has delivered on that promise.
“Every week we got together. Coffee with the Mayor. My pet peeve was people would get elected and you would not see them until four years later. Oh, that would drive me crazy. Waiting hours to see me only to be told they could not see me. So I make it a point to give people my times” Molina said.
“I have been out every singe weekend at coffee shops, tacos, piazzas, you name it.”
Another goal was to improve economic development. Molina said he and the city council has delivered on that also.
“My goal was to spur growth in Edinburg. Are we working on drainage projects? We have record breaking drainage projects going on right now. We are not going to solve the drainage problem in two years. It is going to take some time. We are working as fast as we can,” Molina said.
“Are we working on streets? We have broken records, the city, on the most amount of money invested in streets? Are we working on developing parks? We have upgraded every park in the city. And we have added two or three brand new ones.”
As for helping small businesses and creating jobs, Molina said: “We were at the arena last week giving out $2,000 to 490 small businesses. It is unbelievable. Are we creating jobs? We did not get any noise from the media. We just closed a deal to bring Driscoll Children’s Hospital to Edinburg. Three hundred and fifty jobs. Probably stuck in the back of the local paper.”
Molina also spoke about a recent announcement by the U.S. Census Bureau: Edinburg’s population is now greater than 100,000.
“Edinburg is the fastest growing city in the RGV. It just zeroed in on over 100,000 population. It is the 5th fastest growing city in the State of Texas. It just got recognized as the 11th fastest growing city in the nation. Can you believe that?” Molina asked. The audience applauded.
After listing these achievements, Molina said there is still more to do. Which, he said, is why he wants a second term.
“We recently approved the downtown revitalization plan. We have an arts culture, an events center that I want to see finished. We have an amphitheater in the downtown area that I want to see finished. We are working on a parking garage,” Molina said, recognizing and thanking Hidalgo County Commissioner Ellie Torres for her help on the planned parking improvements.
“We have a parking garage coming to Edinburg. I see the congestion. I am there, I am on the streets. We are going to fix that problem.”
Molina acknowledged flooding around the county courthouse is a problem.
“It is horrible. But, guess what? We secured $20 million already from the state to fix the drainage from the courthouse all the way east on University until you get to run a ditch, it is going to be a 72 inch line. Right now, four inches. The size of a ruler. That is why the rain does what it does. This stuff is going to happen.”
Molina said the city council just passed a bond issue for an additional $20 million for drainage improvements.
“We are going to be working on the west side, the east side, the south side, the entire area. We are going to have detention ponds in all these places.”
Molina closed his speech by saying he is focused on making Edinburg a destination city.
“We are focused on the community needs. And we are focused on quality of life and bringing strong businesses. We are doing this all with fiscal responsibility without raising taxes,” Molina said.
“I want Edinburg to be a place where you can start a career, launch your business, start a family, educate your children, and live your best lives. This is the Edinburg we are creating together.”
He added: “I need your help to keep this city going in the right direction. Give me four years and after that we are going to start looking for new leadership so that we can pass the torch on, too.”
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