This week we all welcomed our new mayor, Javier Villalobos, as he assumed the mantle of responsibility for our city. While the race for the mayorship has ended, unlike other races, now the work begins.

When you run a marathon, at the beginning you are focused on the starting line. Then, when the pistol rings out, your focus changes to your goal, the finish line. As soon as you cross it, you forget about it. Maybe you receive a medal for your accomplishment, but you immediately begin to think of the next challenge. You don’t remember the starting line.

In our mayoral race, Mr. Villalobos does not have the luxury of forgetting about the starting line. It is because of his conduct at the beginning, and throughout the race, that he finished in first place. He showed himself to be a humble man. He showed himself to be a man of all the people, all the citizens of McAllen. He intentionally rejected being labeled as a Republican or a Democrat. He identified himself only as a proud citizen of McAllen.

That is why it should be so easy for everyone to join me in welcoming him as our new mayor. We all hope that, under his leadership, our city will grow and prosper. We all need to help him to achieve a better future for our young and our elderly alike, as we strive to improve the living conditions of everyone.

I say “we” because no one person, not even the mayor, can achieve all that needs to be achieved by themselves. This takes a team. That does not mean that we cannot be critical when we disagree with him. We can and we should. But it also means that we must vocally support him when he is doing well, as I trust will be the case.

We face many challenges. We have to convince the younger generation to remain, we have to end the brain drain, we must build our economy, we must defeat poverty and disease, we must secure our border, and must ensure the public health. We can only do that as a team.

We have the tools to meet those challenges. McAllen is blessed in that we have little crime and have become a center for international trade. Our future can be bright.

This is the beginning of a new era. As I said when I endorsed Mr. Villalobos, he “exhibited a willingness to incorporate into his platform the important issues one which we ran our campaign. These are vital for improving the quality of life and living conditions of our citizens. He agrees that, together, we will do everything possible to reduce unemployment, create new jobs, and improve health care and the education available to our citizens. I will do everything in my power to support Mr. Villalobos in our common goal of achieving these vital objectives.” I meant it then, and I believe it today.

Mayor Villalobos is focused. I am focused. As a humanitarian and a healthcare professional I look forward to seeing him creating an emergency disaster management system so that we will be prepared for natural and man-made humanitarian crises. I also am committed to helping him to be fiscally conservative so that we will be able to optimize our limited budget to help improve the living conditions of all our citizens.

That said, we must invest in public health. We need free clinics for the uninsured, the underinsured and for those who, even though they have insurance, cannot afford anything but emergency care.

As a team, we will help Mayor Villalobos create a lasting legacy of a McAllen that is senior friendly, healthy, with a young vibrant population and a strong growing economy. We wish you the best of luck on your new journey as the mayor of our great city of McAllen. 

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Dr. Shahid Rashid, MD, a former McAllen mayoral candidate. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author. Dr. Rashid can be reached by email via: [email protected]

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