MCALLEN, Texas – In a short video interview, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez has given an update on his Prosperity Task Force and explained his top agenda item for the upcoming legislative session.

The task force has been set up to address the high level of poverty in the county.

Cortez gave the interview soon after being sworn into office for his second four-year term.

Here is the interview:


And here is an edited version of Judge Cortez’s remarks from the podium after being sworn into office by his good friend, state Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen:

Guest column

First, I want to thank all of you for being here for this special day for me and my family. 

We’ve been through a lot in the last four years. Who would ever have known that we would go through a pandemic, the hard freeze, a hurricane and the flooding? But here we are, and we’re looking at a really good future. 

People ask me, well, what have you accomplished? Well, we’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve accomplished a lot in difficult times. And a lot of that success is attributable to all of you because we are a community of communities. We are a community of 22 cities. We have 17 school districts. So, if any area needs to learn to work together, it’s our area. Because if we don’t we don’t do that, good things won’t happen. But we learn that when we work together good things happen. 

Who would ever have thought that when we first started administering the testing for COVID, everybody wanted a test and people would get in line. Some didn’t get tested, some did. There was a lot of anxiety, sometimes anger and fear. Same thing with the vaccinations. But, at the end, every precinct that you would go to, you would just marvel at the efficiency of every precinct. How they got together to accomplish these things. 

Our drainage district. I mean, what can what can I tell you? My opponent said, you know, hire me and I’ll fix drainage right away. Well, okay. It takes money and time but our drainage district people and personnel through the help of you the citizens, you gave us the money to be able to start fixing our drainage problems. 

But going forward, what do I see as the opportunities and the most important thing that we need? Going forward, our future is going to depend on what we do for each other. We are living in very difficult times, technology, robotics are going to be changing the jobs of tomorrow. We had better learn to really be good at predicting the future. So there’s a lot of economic development things that people talk about. But the best economic development tool that we have is to invest in ourselves. If we invest in ourselves we’ll be able to take advantage of something that we have here. Do you know that we graduate more high school students every year than what 15 other states graduate? That’s important when the whole of the United States is looking for a labor force. So, if we want to create opportunity for our people, we’re going to have to match our resources to what’s missing, and we’re missing the types of jobs that we need to be able to bring our people to the good jobs. 

You all know I’m an accountant. Well, we have 500,000 – I’m giving you raw numbers. Five hundred thousand people are working in Hidalgo County. Out of the 500,000 that are working in Hidalgo County, 380,000 of them are earning above poverty. That’s the good news. The bad news is out of 120,000, they are working but they’re earning below (the) poverty (level). So what do we need to do to help? We need to attract outside investments to be able to bring the type of jobs that we need here so that as we balance the creation of human capital we match it with a job. That’s what I pledge to yo, that I want to try to do the best I can in the next four years to provide leadership for that. 

So, thank you for giving me four more years of opportunity. Thank you all for being here. And now we’ll get to work. Thank you.

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