MISSION, RGV – Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas has been presented with a plaque and a sombrero for helping to stop a healthcare district from being formed in Hidalgo County.

The “awards” were presented at this week’s city council meeting by the OWLS, a taxpayer watchdog group, and Republican consultant Hollis Rutledge, a resident of Mission.

Fern McClaugherty, one of the leaders of the OWLS, explained why the presentations were made.

“We chose a sombrero because in one of our papers they were making fun of Precinct 2 Commissioner Eddie Cantu, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, and they went after the mayor of Mission, Beto Salinas. They called them the Three Amigos and tried really hard to make it an insult,” McClaugherty said.

“But, instead of it being viewed as an insult, all of the people that were fighting the hospital district said, you know what, they are our Three Amigos and Thank God for them. So, I and the OWLS had a sombrero made and a plaque that talks about the number 111,822, which is the number of people that voted “no” to the hospital district.”

A referendum to introduce a healthcare district in Hidalgo County was held last November. The district would have been able to raise taxes, with funds going towards the upkeep of UT-Rio Grande Valley’s School of Medicine and to pay the healthcare costs of the indigent in the county. It was easily defeated.

A political action committee supporting the healthcare district took out an ad in a local newspaper that depicted Salinas, Cantu and Trump as the Three Amigos. They were depicted wearing a sombrero.

“We presented the plaque and the sombrero to Mayor Salinas because we wanted him to know how much we thought about him. He was the only politician that stood up and had the guts to stand with the taxpayers of Hidalgo County, twice, and say ‘no’ to the hospital district,” McClaugherty said. “He went up against a great deal of money. We were proud to stand with Hollis Rutledge and the Republicans.”

McClaugherty said the OWLS will present Commissioner Cantu with his “award” at a later date. “Eddie Cantu went on the radio, 710, and fought the hospital district. We have got an award for him also. They do not know how much we appreciate them, for taking so much grieve in their cities and in the county.”

Asked what would happen if a third attempt was made to introduce a healthcare district in Hidalgo County, McClaugherty said: “I keep telling the elected officials, those 111,822 voters, which is 72 percent of the voters, will vote them out of office. We will educate the public on who is bringing it back.”

McClaugherty is a candidate for Edinburg City Council, Place 1, in the November elections. Asked why she is running, McClaugherty said: “That is easy – lower taxes. They (Edinburg City Council) have two and a half percent more money than they had last year. They could lower the tax rate two or three cents to help the taxpayers. Mission has lowered its taxes two or three times, Edinburg just cannot figure out how to do that.”