BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Cameron County Administrator Pete Sepulveda, Jr., was sworn in as Cameron County Judge on Wednesday at the county courthouse.

Numerous dignitaries were present to witness the ceremony, including U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela and state Rep. Eddie Lucio, Jr.

New Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda, Jr., gave remarks at the county courthouse.
New Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda, Jr., gave remarks at the county courthouse.

Sepulveda was born in Rio Grande City and comes from a migrant family. He paid tribute to his parents for “raising us and showing us what working hard and earning an honest living was all about.” He said he would not be providing public service to the community without the “patience, understanding, and support” of his wife Myrna and his three daughters Vivien, Rebekkah and Yaretzi.

In his remarks, Sepulveda spoke about the need for the establishment of a regional agenda for the four-county Rio Grande Valley.
“My goals will be to promote regional cooperation, improve our infrastructure development, continue with higher education advancement, make certain we have a strong health care system for all, and always represent and work to preserve our Veterans rights,” Sepulveda said, noting that Cameron County is part of one of the fastest growing regions in the country.

“With growth comes proper planning and infrastructure development. Infrastructure has and will continue to be my priority but there are many other areas where we need to stay engaged and at the forefront. I plan to work with our counterparts in the four-county region to capitalize on our strengths and continue preparing for the future. It is important that we have a seat at the table when funding decisions are being made in Austin and D.C.”

Sepulveda also referenced the SpaceX project, which will see commercial rockets launched from Boca Chica beach. “The economic landscape of the region is about to be transformed dramatically and we need to be ready for what’s to come. SpaceX alone is an economic game changer,” Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda also referenced the Port of Brownsville, which he described as the “economic engine that fuels our local economy.” He said the Port is the catalyst that drives Cameron County’s sustainability. “As I have worked to partner with you in the past, know that I will continue to work to assist in any way I can so that we continue on a path to prosperity. There are some major projects on the horizon and the county wants to partner together to support any efforts you have to continue to attract investments that create good paying jobs.”

The jewel of the region, Sepulveda said, is South Padre Island. He pledged to work with mayors and other elected officials in the Laguna Madre area to “finalize plans for a new 2nd access, continue to promote tourism, create a strategic plan for our parks and work with area officials to promote economic development.”

With regard to the region’s international bridges, Sepulveda repeated a line that Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority Chairman David Allex likes to say: our bridges are a street with water running underneath that we depend on daily.

“The number of people and the amount of goods and services moving everyday through them is vitally important to us,” Sepulveda said. “Soon we will open the West Rail which will give us another added advantage in the race to get goods to market. I will continue to work with federal, state, and local officials on both sides of the border, in a binational fashion so that we update our system with the latest technology and upgrade our port of entry facilities to realize a much safer and more efficient movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic at our bridges.”

Sepulveda acknowledged that Los Indios Bridge has been under-utilized. He said this is going to change, pointing out that a consortium has been developed by the County, the City of Harlingen and the City of San Benito to market the region so that the Mexican produce industry utilizes Los Indios. “In the last legislative session we worked to secure an overweight corridor from the Port of Entry at Los Indios to the Port of Brownsville so that truckers and logistics companies have multiple options when moving their product,” Sepulveda said. “This bridge has been highly underutilized but we are beginning to see signs of vast improvements and potential for this area of the county.”

Sepulveda also pledged his support to improving living conditions in the region’s colonias, support for a Veteran’s Hospital and support for the Brownsville Weir Project.

Here are the prepared remarks by Pete Sepulveda, Jr., as he was sworn into office as Cameron County Judge at the Cameron County Courthouse on Wednesday, March 11, 2015:

Thank you all very much for being here.  It is truly an honor to be standing here before you today.

As I said last week great things are happening in Cameron County. It is a great time to be living in this county and region as the eyes of Texas and soon the world will be upon us.

To the Members of the Commissioners Court thank you for your trust and confidence to lead this county.  

And I also want to extend my gratitude to now Secretary Cascos. I am humbled to succeed him as the 9th County Judge of Cameron County.

Thank you Congressman Vela and Representative Lucio for taking time from your busy schedules to be here with us. We have always had a great working relationship and I look forward to continuing to work with you on behalf of Cameron County in my new capacity.   

On many occasions I have walked the halls of Congress and the state Capitol to ensure our priorities are being heard loud and clear and I plan to continue working in this fashion with you and our other federal and state officials.  

I also want to thank the Mayors and other local officials that are here today. Aside from a new title nothing changes. As I have in the past, I pledge to work with each and every one of you to accomplish our mutual goals because as we know that in this day and age – no man is an island.   

As some of you know I am originally from Rio Grande City. The son of a migrant family I pay tribute today to my parents for raising us and showing us what working hard and earning an honest living was all about.

Here with me today are : Acknowledge other family members in attendance: brothers , sisters

But I want to share this day, above all else, with my wife Myrna and my three daughters Vivien, Rebekkah and Yaretzi.

I would not be standing here today without your patience, understanding, and support.

My daughters have lived here all their lives. It gives me no greater pleasure than to see them grow up here, get a higher education here – or at Texas A&M – and someday contribute positively to this region. I want them to fulfill their dreams and be successful at whatever their hearts desire.

So it is with them in mind that I take on this role officially today.

My goals will be to promote regional cooperation, improve our infrastructure development, continue with higher education advancement, make certain we have a strong health care system for all, and always represent and work to preserve our Veterans rights.

Cameron County is one of the fastest growing regions of the state. And with growth comes proper planning and infrastructure development. Infrastructure has and will continue to be my priority but there are many other areas where we need to stay engaged and at the forefront. I plan to work with our counterparts in the four-county region to capitalize on our strengths and continue preparing for the future. It is important that we have a seat at the table when funding decisions are being made in Austin and D.C.

Today we are one of three areas in the country with five modes of transportation (roads, air, water, rail, and pipeline) and soon we will add a sixth (space travel). The economic landscape of the region is about to be transformed dramatically and we need to be ready for what’s to come. SpaceX alone is an economic game changer. And there are many other areas that we need to continue to address.  

Right down the road from here is the economic engine that fuels our local economy. The Port of Brownsville – the Port of our region – is the catalyst that drives our sustainability. As I have worked to partner with you in the past, know that I will continue to work to assist in any way I can so that we continue on a path to prosperity. There are some major projects on the horizon and the county wants to partner together to support any efforts you have to continue to attract investments that create good paying jobs.

The jewel of the region is, of course, South Padre Island. I will work with Mayor Patel, Mayor Vega and Mayor Houston and others in the Laguna Madre area to finalize plans for a new 2nd access, continue to promote tourism, create a strategic plan for our parks and work with area officials to promote economic development.

On April 1998, I came to work for the county as the Director of International Bridge System and my first responsibility was to open the Veterans Bridge at Los Tomates. The goal was to move all the commercial truck traffic away from downtown Brownsville and away from the two downtown bridges – Gateway and B&M. The plan was to route all commercial traffic to the new bridge with the goal of reducing congestion and improving mobility because truck traffic had a chokehold on our downtown streets and merchants. With that complete and the recent addition of a second span at the Veterans Bridge also in operation our next project is to reroute truck traffic completely away from International Boulevard, one of the busiest corridors in the city, and onto the new East Loop to the Port of Brownsville.

I mention this because our bridges are so important. They are the lifeline to so many things that happen on a daily basis between our communities. As my Chairman (David Allex) likes to say, it is a street with water that we all depend on daily. The number of people and the amount of goods and services moving everyday through them is vitally important to us. And soon we will open the West Rail which will give us another added advantage in the race to get goods to market. I will continue to work with federal, state, and local officials on both sides of the border, in a binational fashion so that we update our system with the latest technology and upgrade our port of entry facilities to realize a much safer and more efficient movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic at our bridges.

A Nuestros Amigos de Matamoros, Ciudad Victoria y la Ciudad de Mexico, gracias por acompanarnos esta manana. Nuestra postura en el condado seguira siendo de trabajar unidos con ustedes para lograr nuestros proyectos binacionales. Si analizan la frontera sur oeste de Brownsville a San Diego, veran que la mayoria de los proyectos binacionales que se logran son en la frontera entre el Condado de Cameron y Matamoros. Eso se debe a la unidad y cooperacion que tenemos con nuestros vecinos de Mexico. Seguiremos trabajando unidos con Ustedes. Una vez mas, gracias por acompanarme en esta manana.  

At the Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios we’ve developed a consortium so that together with our partners, the City of Harlingen and the City of San Benito, we can begin to market our region to attract the key Mexican produce industry that is likely to export its product through the highly anticipated new trade route that is the Matamoros to Mazatlan highway. In the last legislative session we worked to secure an overweight corridor from the Port of Entry at Los Indios to the Port of Brownsville so that truckers and logistics companies have multiple options when moving their product. This bridge has been highly underutilized but we are beginning to see signs of vast improvements and potential for this area of the county.  

There are several things that Fortune 500 companies look at before moving to a community. They of course want good roads, good schools, good hospitals, and nice parks for their families but before that they want to have an abundant and dependable power and water supply to support their operations. Representative Lucio, you have spearheaded efforts to address our pressing water needs across the region and the state. Count on me to help assist in the efforts to look at the various options available to create a sustainable water supply in the region. A project that I also want to push for is the Brownsville Weir project. I believe that with our partners on both sides of the border we can revive this critical project. Working with the PUB, I will work on this and other projects they have on the table to continue to develop the overall infrastructure so that we can improve the availability of these precious resources which will keep us economically viable for many years to come.
 
But as we continue to work on roads, drainage, water quality, and other necessary upgrades we continue to be mindful of the work of many to eliminate the proliferation of colonias and sub-standard living conditions in South Texas.  I know that in Cameron County we are doing our part. Late last year, Congressman Vela and Housing Secretary Julian Castro had an opportunity to tour Cameron Park to see firsthand the improvements that are being made there. Lots of money has been invested for road, sidewalks and proper drainage and we still are not yet finished. And in other smaller communities and colonias we are working to provide lighting so that children will be safe when playing outside and many families can have some peace of mind. All of the Commissioners understand the importance of improving our rural communities and that will also be my priority moving forward.

In addition to these priorities I pledge to work with my fellow Commissioners to make sure we stay on strong financial footing while addressing our pressing county needs. Working with my colleagues from the dais I will seek to strike a balance between spending priorities and keeping a healthy fund balance.    

And most importantly, to our heroes, our Veterans. South Texans have answered the call in large numbers for every conflict known to this great country of ours. Know that Cameron County will continue to push for a hospital and for services that many other veterans throughout the country enjoy. We are committed to fighting for you just as you have fought for us.     

I want to thank staff at the bridge system, many have been with me since the day I started work here, department heads that have been working with me since I became County Administrator in 2007, others like Arnold Flores that joined us later, my immediate staff that has to put up with me on a daily basis and David Garcia who has been my assistant for the last 11 years. Thank You all.

The future of this great county is bright. The dreams of many are in our hands. I’m ready to do my small part starting today.  I thank you for being here today.

May God Bless you and may God Bless Cameron County.