After serving the City of Mission as mayor for 20 years, Norberto “Beto” Salinas was honored with an appreciation luncheon this week at the Mission Event Center.
Salinas was given gifts from the city, such as a plaque, the key to the city, a watch for his time served and a certificate of recognition from Congressman Henry Cuellar, which were presented by the four city council members.
The Mission Parks and Recreation Folklorico performed as people ate lunch, and the welcome remarks were given by newly elected Mayor Armando O’caña. O’caña and Salinas have been working together at the city for ten years.
“We also worked together when he was the Precinct 3 commissioner and I was the fire chief of Mission,” O’caña said. “He has always been a great person, he has always been a very resourceful person for me, and I am honored to be honoring Mayor Beto Salinas.”
O’caña said that after the recent mayoral election, he approached City Manager Martin Garza, Jr. and told him that while they have to abide by the results of the democratic process, that doesn’t mean the city shouldn’t honor Salinas.
“In our Mexican culture we always have what we call a ‘despedida’ [farewell],” O’caña said. “And I asked Martin, let’s do a despedida and make it at the Mission Event Center, and that’s why we’re here.”
Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who represents District 20 and has become close with Salinas over the years, was one of the speakers at the event. He has known Salinas since 1980.
“I learned from Beto early on how to organize, how to treat people with respect,” Hinojosa said. “When he became the mayor of Mission, one of the things he wanted to do was see the city grow.”
Hinojosa said he understood business and infrastructure, and was good at talking to people. According to Hinojosa, Salinas worked well with governors, congressmen, legislatures, Republicans and Democrats, and has always put the people of the City of Mission first.
“As he’s gotten older, he’s gotten a little more grouchy, trust me,” Hinojosa said. “Throughout his career, he may be tough, he may be aggressive, but he’s always speaking for families, and has never forgotten where he came from.”
Hinojosa gave Salinas a gavel used by the presiding officer of the Texas Senate in order to honor him and commemorate his time as mayor.
Jim Brunson, the former publisher of the Progress Times newspaper, also spoke during the luncheon. Brunson reflected on the work that Salinas put into Mission for the last 20 years as mayor, and also his many years as a civil servant.
“Mayor Norberto Salinas has been good for Mission, very good,” Brunson said. “He has consistently exhibited with sound understanding that when the city prospers, all of her citizens share in the opportunities and benefits that accompany growth in a well-managed environment.”
Salinas has held fifteen positions in civil service since 1967, and served as mayor after being elected in 1998. He was reelected in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2014. He spoke about his time in office and how the relationships, the good times and the tough times shaped who he is today.
“I learned a lot,” Salinas said. “I think I got a degree from the citizens of Mission, and I think that degree you can’t earn anywhere else, because it’s a lot of work. It’s called ‘la escuela de la vida’ [the school of life], and that’s what I have learned from the City of Mission.”
Salinas also said there was a funny feeling within him when he lost the recent mayoral election, and explained how his life has already changed since the race ended.
“At the same time, it feels good, because I have not had to work that much,” Salinas said. “People used to just come around and keep me busy all day long. It was a wonderful 20 years.”
Salinas said that his heart was his biggest guide when he ran the city.
“I did it on my own,” Salinas said. “I came from McAllen in 1966, and ever since that day, I’ve been working every day of my life.”
At the end of his speech, he wished Mayor O’caña the best of luck, and offered his help any time it is needed in the future.
At the end of the luncheon, a spiritual mandate was given by Pastor Joseph Ramientos, who blessed former Mayor Salinas and new Mayor O’caña along with all the other pastors present at the event.
“Let me tell you, Mayor [Salinas], you did not lose,” Ramientos said. “Nobody did. God is preparing you for a higher calling, a purpose that only you can fulfill.”