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Early voting starts Monday in mayor race

20140131 voteEarly voting starts Monday in the runoff election between Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas and challenger Jaime Gutierrez.

Salinas, a rancher and businessman, has served as mayor of Mission for 16 years, and before that he served as a Hidalgo County commissioner.

Gutierrez, a local businessman who owns a car dealership, says it’s time for change. Originally from Los Angeles, Gutierrez moved to Mission 12 years ago because he really liked the city.

Still, he sees two Missions: the north side and south side.

“Just by walking the streets, you see the need,” Gutierrez said. “In certain sectors, it’s awesome; it’s real nice. Everything’s in place, but you go to the other sector, and it seems forgotten.”

For his part, Salinas has said Mission has transformed during his reign as mayor of the city. He pointed to the Anzalduas Bridge and improvements to the city’s parks system, stating that he has helped touch every quadrant of the city to improve existing facilities or add new ones.

“During the last three terms, I have focused on reducing property taxes, improving the city’s infrastructure, creating jobs and bringing in new businesses into our community. To date, the city’s property taxes have dropped almost 15 percent since 1998, and I’ll be working to reduce them even further,” Salinas has stated.

While lowering property tax rates, the city has increased its fire and police staff and created a media relations department. And Mission is in the middle of $2.6 million overhaul of the Conway Avenue streetscape.

The goal, Salinas has said, is to bring more business to downtown Mission and improve quality of life.

“It takes a full-time mayor to run this city, and I have been blessed that I can dedicate much time to city business,” Salinas stated. “I’m a businessman and a rancher at heart, but my true passion is working for this city and for the people of Mission.”

Salinas has questioned Gutierrez’s involvement in city government, emphasizing that Gutierrez has not attended city meetings nor volunteered for any boards.

Gutierrez said he has a heart for the people, and he’s seen a lot of frustration among residents. Too much emphasis has been placed on building and economic development and not enough on the residents of the community and making their lives better.

There are no jobs for college graduates who have gone away to study, so there’s no need for them to come back, he said. He thinks the city should put more focus on hiring those graduates and getting them experience.

“Whatever doesn’t renew, it stays in the same place. It’s time to open scenarios for new generations,” Gutierrez said. “We have to be real careful, so our younger generations don’t feel frustrated, so they can be not a witness of the growth of our city, but a part of it.”

The last day of early voting is June 17, and Election Day is June 12.

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