McALLEN, Texas – McAllen Mayor Jim Darling recently held his final State of the City Address.

After 43 years in government, including three four-year terms as mayor, Darling will step down as soon as the result of the runoff election for mayor is known. The runoff is between outgoing city commissioners Veronica Vela Whitacre and Javier Villalobos.

In his speech, Darling noted how the past year had brought challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic and the sever winter freeze. He thanked all the first responders for their efforts.

Darling also noted some of the city’s achievements, such as introducing citywide wifi, expanding Bicentennial Boulevard, improving parks, the focus on drainage and boosting trade through the refurbishment of Anzalduas International Bridge. 

The mayor had entered the McAllen Convention Center with a dance routine. He concluded it with these remarks: “I have tried in my many years to work with everyone, everyone of every race, nationality, creed, political persuasion, everyone who could help our great city. I have also tried to always return the favor when I could. God Bless You and God Bless McAllen. Bye. “

Asked by the Rio Grande Guardian what the key things were that he wanted to get across, Darling said:

“I wanted to be funny. I wanted to be entertaining. I wanted to be informative. I think we did most of that. I wanted to do two things. I am leaving so I wanted to leave a message for the people that are taking my place. And, number two, it has been a tough year. I wanted to thank a lot of people for getting it done. We accomplished most of that. I want everybody to walk our of here feeling good about their city and proud of it.”

In his interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, Darling spoke about his efforts to get the Rio Grande Valley’s levees repaired before the start of hurricane season on June 1. The levees have been compromised in south Mission and McAllen due to the Trump Admininistration’s decision to build a border wall on top of the levees. This work was not certified by the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). It was also not completed. When President Biden took office he stopped any further construction of the border wall.

“I do not want to take credit but I have been yakking about that for almost six weeks and now people are doing something about it. I talked to IBWC and the border wall project was not certified. I have talked to DHS, everybody is talking to them. You have just go to do something,” Darling said.

“People do not understand. It is not the rain here that matters, it is the rain in Mexico and the watershed. When they start releasing that water it comes and it is powerful.”

Darling said recent events have convinced him that the powers that be in Washington, D.C. do not know much about life on the U.S.-Mexico border,

“I am firmly convinced that Washington has no idea what is happening on the asylum issue down here, certainly the border levee/wall issue. It is amazing to me how disconnected Washington is from us. I would like the governor to be on their butt too about the levee system.”

Darling added: “I am not blaming this on the Biden administration. What I am saying is, they lost a lot of the construction workers. Those problems with the levee were caused by the Trump Administration doing it. I do not think the hurricane protocols have been certified by IBWC, putting some dirt down and a tarp over it (will not lead to certification).”

Darling said that while he is retiring as mayor of McAllen he will continue to serve on various boards.

“I will still be on the Region M Water Planning Group and the Regional Water Authority. We have about four or five groups I will still be on because I was not appointed to these by the city.”

Asked if his last state of the city was a bittersweet moment, Darling said: “Absolutely. Forty-three years, it is a hard thing to do. I have ambivalent feelings. It has not sunk in that I am leaving yet. It will be sad. I will miss a lot of people. You will never get to interview me anymore.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows McAllen Mayor Jim Darling giving his final State of the City address at the McAllen Convention Center on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Texas Border Business)

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