“We are here for our community. Businessmen are here to make a profit,” said Arlando Nacianceno, who is running for Place 1 on the Palmview Proud slate.
“The city’s not a business; business is not a city” added Jerry Perez, mayor candidate for Palmview Proud. “The city is public services.”
Their opponents, members of the Palmview Leadership, have emphasized that each of them owns a business. That experience, Palmview Leadership slate members have said, will help them run the city.
“It takes businessmen to run a city,” said Joe Chapa, mayor candidate for Palmview Leadership. “It takes businessmen to run a business.
“You cannot make $10 and spend $20.”
Candidates for Palmview Leadership are Chapa for mayor, Mario Garza in Place 1, Alejandro Cantu in Place 2 and Albino Villarreal in Place 4. All of whom have never run for an elected office before.
Palmview Proud candidates are Perez for mayor, Nacianceno in Place 1, Jose “Hoss” Hernandez in Place 2 and Rick 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.
Perez is the executive director of support services for La Joya Independent School District. He’s served as a city councilman 18 years, and Perez said he can take Palmview to the next level.
Chapa owns a business selling vegetable seeds to Bayer CropSciences. He said he’s concerned about the city’s police department, which he said is not part of the community.
When asked to list the top three issues facing Palmview, Perez said public safety is very important and may be the mayor’s biggest responsibility. He said he also wants to focus on economic development, and highlighted his experience as an intern in the city of Palmview.
Chapa said there aren’t just three issues–Garza will focus on economic development, Cantu will focus on beautification, Albino Villarreal will focus on the Boys and Girls Club and Chapa himself will put focus on the police department.
“I assure you that once we come in, we’re going to have a line to the highway of people asking us what we’re going to do,” Chapa said. “We cannot have this city run by remote control by people living outside the city.”
Meanwhile, Perez assured those at the forum that the $1.8 million owed by the city to the Palmview Economic Development Corporation was spent on city services. The revenue, gained through a half-cent sales tax, has been at the heart of a controversy between the two slates. Perez has said that under the EDC, the money could only be spent on projects within the city’s industrial park. The city doesn’t have an industrial park.
Palmview Leadership members said the money went missing and have demanded to know where it went. Palmview Proud members have said it was spent on city services, and they switched from an EDC to a municipal development district to fix the problem.
Perez said the half-cent tax was approved in the ’90s before he came into office.
“A couple of years ago, when we wanted to make a stand on it, we had to go to the voters,” Perez said. “But all this time, the half a cent has been spent in service for the city.”
Chapa said he’d like to do an internal analysis on the city’s financial statements to ensure the money was properly spent.
Nacianceno is an educator with La Joya ISD’s Hope Academy who wants to give back to the community for which he once worked. Garza is an owner-operator for Fed-Ex ground shipping, and he said he wants to take a stand for Palmview and help it grow.
Garza said Palmview is not learning from other cities, and the police department needs to be better trained. Also, he said, the city doesn’t take care of its businesses like it should.
“I believe if you want to help business, you have to shop Palmview first,” Garza said.
Nacianceno said he’d like to see the city hire more officers and expand the fire department. He’d also focus on improving infrastructure and doing more for the parks and recreation department.
When asked to expand on his plans for economic development, Garza said the city’s not big enough to compete against other cities. Shopping Palmview first needs to start with the city’s own purchases.
Nacianceno said the city needs to work with the Chamber of Commerce to help businesses grow.
“We are big enough to compete with other cities,” he said, refuting Garza. “We can compete with Mission; we can compete with other cities out there.”
Garza later said his slate is going up against the entire school district and accused supervisors at the district of threatening people’s jobs if they go against Palmview Proud.
Nacianceno said he is not a supervisor and he doesn’t threaten people.
“We also have the support of the city of Peñitas, the city of La Joya and the city of Sullivan,” he said. “If we’re going to be going back and pointing fingers, let me quote my favorite movie, ‘The devil’s greatest trick is to convince the world he doesn’t exist,’ and that, ladies and gentlemen is Kino Flores. Kino Flores supports this slate 100 percent.”
“I can show you the statements where Kino has not put a single cent into this campaign,” Garza responded. “Everything has come from our pockets. This is not Kino’s team. This is Joe Chapa’s team.”
Hernandez has lived in Palmview all his life and is bus parts manager for La Joya ISD. Cantu is a coach who owns a children’s daycare.
Cantu, who has said he’d like to see more beautification around the city, a library and better lighting, said he believes the city can do it without raising taxes. For example, Cantu said, the city can annex more land and generate more tax revenue.
“We don’t have any sidewalks for our kids to play; we don’t have any lighting in our colonias; we don’t have any speedbumps for our kids, so our cars will slow down,” Cantu said. “We need to be sure we set aside money for that.”
Hernandez said he’d like the city to look beautiful as well, but it takes a lot of money. Besides, he said, he’s been over to Mission and McAllen and their lights are the same as Palmview’s lighting.
Cantu also questioned why bringing sewer services to Palmview is taking so long. Most city commissioners have been in office 19 years, and in that time Peñitas, La Joya, Sullivan City have all gotten sewer systems.
But, Hernandez said, it’s out of the city’s control. The service is under Agua Special Utility District.
“It should be coming any time, maybe the end of the year from what I’m told,” Hernandez said. “I know that they said other cities have gotten it, but what I’ve been told was it’s the mayor–he’s the one that’s been postponing it.”
Current Mayor Jorge Garcia has shown support for the Palmview Leadership slate.
“Maybe because we’re bigger than the other cities, they wanted to do those cities first,” Hernandez added.
Rick Villarreal, an educator in human resources for La Joya ISD is the only candidate running for re-election. Albino Villarreal, a furniture storeowner, said he wants to make a difference for the residents, not his pocketbook.
Rick Villarreal said it’s easy to make promises, but harder to make them happen in office. Already, he said, he’s seen an improvement to the city’s quality of life with a Boys and Girls Club doubled in size, the creation of the MDD and a better relationship with county and state officials.
Meanwhile, Albino Villarreal said the city needs more transparency. Plus, he said, as businessmen, members of his slate would be able to serve the city 100 percent, something candidates with day jobs can’t do.
He suggested cutting the Boys and Girls Club registration fees from $50 to $25 to accommodate families with multiple children.
“I think it’s not fair,” Albino said. “Way back, they used to charge $25, and it was working fine.”
“I think both sides can agree that if we could have it for free, we would have it for free,” Rick responded. “Unfortunately, I don’t think any city has it for free.”
The two also addressed the controversy surrounding Albino Villarreal’s residency status. Rick Villarreal filed a suit attempting to have Albino removed from the ballot stating his homestead is outside of city limits.
Albino Villarreal said he’s lived and voted in Palmview the past 30 years and pointed the finger at other elected officials.
“Sergio Muñoz Jr., he doesn’t live in District 36, and we don’t say anything about that. Right, Mr. Rick? Same thing,” Albino Villarreal said.