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Future of Palmview at stake in upcoming election

20140411 Palmview-Leadership-CandidatesPALMVIEW–It’s four against four in the fight for the future of their city as the May election looms and two informal political parties take shape.

Palmview Leadership is a group of businessman who believe they can get the city’s finances under control while improving the city. None have run for office before.

“The city should be running like business,” said Joe Chapa, the slate’s mayoral candidate. “It takes businessmen to run a business. The other four individuals running for office are not businessman. We are businessmen. You cannot earn $10 and spend $20.”

Meanwhile, Palmview Proud includes two men who’ve already served on the city’s board of aldermen as well as two others who grew up in the area and have helped out in previous elections. They plan to focus on the Boys and Girls Club, infrastructure, public safety and economic development.

“It’s important to have a commission that can be cohesive and work together, have the same vision, the same common denominator,” said Jerry Perez, the slate’s mayoral candidate.

Candidates for Palmview Leadership are Chapa, Mario Garza in Place 1, Alejandro Cantu in Place 2 and Albino Villarreal in Place 4.

20140411 Palmview-ProudPalmview Proud candidates are Perez, Arlando Nacianceno in Place 1, Jose “Hoss” Hernandez in Place 2 and Ricky Villarreal in Place 4. Perez resigned his seat of 18 years as the Place 1 alderman to run for mayor, and this is Villarreal’s first bid for re-election to keep his seat.

The Palmview races are turning into some of the most heated contests in the area ahead of the May city and school board Election Day. Both sides have had shots fired at them, including accusations of drug abuse and allegations of criminal activity by city staff, several of whom are supporting the Palmview Proud slate.

Both sides said they’re trying to run a positive campaign.

Palmview Leadership candidates pointed to missing signs around the city, while Palmview Proud candidates said they’re signs have been defaced.

Palmview Proud candidates, all of whom work for the La Joya Independent School District, said they have the vision and experience to bring progress for the city, but Palmview Leadership candidates said their opponents are an attempt by the school district to run the city and represent business as usual.

United by Crime Stoppers

Chapa, Cantu and Villarreal all served on the Palmview Crime Stoppers board until they were unceremoniously kicked out and a new board was created. Since then, they’ve seen a decline in services to the city, and they banded together to take action.

“We’re trying to put back the community like it was,” Chapa said. “We used to hand out $15,000 scholarships for the three schools. We don’t have the Palmview Springfest anymore. The community is not helped out at all.”

But Perez and Villarreal, who’ve lived in Palmview much of their lives, pointed to numerous accomplishments over their terms.

Perez said his generation started with expanding the Boys and Girls Club, and then moved on to city hall and services. He’s a big advocate of the police and fire departments, he said, both of which are well equipped.

Villarreal said within months of taking office, the board began working toward more accountability for city employees, ensuring hours are properly documented and eliminating cash from procedures.

All agree economic development is key to moving the city forward. Perez said he plans to target specific businesses to find out what they need to set up shop in Palmview.

“We need more progress,” Nacianceno said. “With the sewer coming along, we can put Palmview back on the map.”

A community divided

Villarreal said there have been three main people in the area that know about politics: Sergio Muñoz Sr., Kino Flores and Billy Leo. Lately, he said Muñoz or Flores backs slates in Palmview.

Palmview Proud already claims the support of Muñoz and residents have alleged that Palmview Leadership is being backed by Flores.

But that’s not the case, Chapa said.

“Kino Flores, if he were supporting us, we wouldn’t have to do fundraisers,” Chapa said.

Cantu added that the money for their campaign is coming out of their pockets. He added that the reason there’s so much negativity within the school district is because the community is divided between these informal parties.

“That’s what’s wrong with a lot of things,” Cantu said. “Either you’re divided by one party or another. The party that we’re trying to run is for the people. Right now we’re going through the middle. We have an open door policy.”

Members of Palmview Leadership said many people in the area work for La Joya ISD and are scared to buck the system. That’s where they, all local business owners, come in to the picture.

“I always ask them, ‘Why are you scared?’ They say because they have the same people that live in the city work at the school so they’re being threatened,” Villarreal said. But they don’t want to talk because their jobs are being threatened. We’re not in Cuba, and I tell them, ‘You need to make a difference.’”

Members of Palmview Proud said those allegations have no grounds. Nacianceno said, first of all, he doesn’t supervise anyone. Perez said he learned how to communicate while earning his master’s degree in public administration.

“In no way do we have the personality to be intimidating people,” Perez said. “We’re approachable; we hear people out–that’s who we are.”

Nacianceno added, “You have to consider that La Joya ISD is one of the biggest employers in the area.”

Perez said Muñoz does support the slate, and he welcomes others who want to join them in moving Palmview forward. He emphasized that he’ll listen to all ideas.

(For more on the vision each slate has for the future of Palmview, see the April 18 edition of the paper.)

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