HARLINGEN, TEXAS – Valley Baptist Health System CEO Manny Vela said he was brought up with the mantra that one always gave credit where credit was due.

And because of that he said he wanted to give credit to the leadership of Cameron County during the COVID-19 pandemic because, led by County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., it had made an “incredible effort.”

Vela said the public-private partnership the county created in response to the pandemic was the “best in Texas.” He said that partnership has saved “countless lives.”

Vela asked the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce if it would co-host a Leadership Appreciation event with Valley Baptist. He said the Chamber jumped right on board. The result was a mixer held at the Chamber on Monday, Feb. 28.


This podcast features the remarks of Manny Vela and Judge Treviño from the Leadership Appreciation event:

Vela’s remarks

Here are Manny Vela’s remarks:

“I was asked just a minute ago in one of the interviews, why I was doing this. And it was a real simple answer. I wanted to make sure that our communities recognized the hard work, the dedication and the commitment of every single member of our county team as it relates not only to this issue but to all issues surrounding the county on a daily basis.

“Fortunately, I think we are serving that purpose tonight.

“I think it is fair to say that the last 22 months have been extremely difficult for everybody. Right? And for some, worse than that. We know we have seen a lot of tragedy and for those folks our hearts and our thoughts and our prayers remain.

“But we have also seen a lot of triumph, if you think about it. And that is the main reason we are here this afternoon. To recognize, honor and pay tribute to the leadership and efforts exhibited by our county judge, Eddie Trevino, our county commissioners, Sofia Benavidez, David Garza, Gus Ruiz, and Joey Lopez, as well as the leadership of our health and emergency management departments, spearheaded by Dr. James Castillo, Esmeralda Guajardo, Tom Hutchin, Juan Marintez, and Rolly Casas. 

“Over these past two years these leaders have helped us develop the strongest public-private partnership in the entire state of Texas. What they have been the catalyst for is getting competitors, including our municipalities and school districts, who sort of had that Friday Night mentality, getting us all at the table at the same time to make sure we were not only collaborating but we that we shared our resources available to help you and your families and everybody else in our communities.

“The county spearheaded dozens and dozens and dozens of calls, it might even be over the hundred mark, easy, and the stakeholders were always there consistently, listening, getting input, giving input, getting insight, giving insight, all in an effort to establish best practices that have served us incredibly well over the last 22 months. 

“I can tell you without any hesitation whatsoever that countless lives have been saved in Cameron County because of our public-private partnership. And I can also tell you without any hesitation we would not have been successful without the leadership exhibited by Judge Trevino and the other folks that I have just previously mentioned.”


Ron Whitlock, of Ron Whitlock Reports, interviewed Manny Vela at the Leadership Appreciation event. Here is the interview:

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