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Sullivan City appoints 2 new municipal judges

The Sullivan City Commission created municipal judge positions Wednesday for a school board trustee and a political candidate.

Mayor Leo Garcia nominated La Joya school board Trustee Oscar “Coach” Salinas and attorney Marco A. De Luna to serve as associate municipal judges.

20190213 SullivancitySwearingInAs a Sullivan City resident, Salinas said he’ll be available nights and weekends for last-minute arraignments. De Luna brings a decade of legal experience to the bench.

“At the end of the day, it’s a win-win for everyone,” Garcia said, adding that he wants to reduce the amount of time inmates spend in the city jail.

The City Commission unanimously approved the nominations, increasing the number of municipal judges from three to five.

Well-wishers, family members and Hidalgo County leaders packed Sullivan City Hall for the swearing-in ceremony.

County Judge Richard Cortez, District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra, Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Flores, Peñitas Mayor Rigo Lopez and former state Rep. Kino Flores, among others, congratulated them.

“I want to thank the city of Sullivan for considering me,” said Salinas, 49, of Sullivan City, who served on the City Commission before joining the school board. “It’s a great honor.”

The existing judges — Municipal Judge Roberto Garza, Associate Judge Jesse Lerma, who works for the city of Mission; and Associate Judge Alex Cantu, who serves on the La Joya school board — don’t live in Sullivan City and aren’t always available.

Salinas said he’ll handle last-minute arraignments at night and on weekends, which will reduce the time inmates spend in the city jail.

“I think that’s going to be my primary responsibility,” Salinas said.

Sullivan City agreed to pay him $250 per month, but Salinas asked the city to donate the money to charity.

Along with serving Sullivan City residents, Salinas said the position would provide him an opportunity to try out the courtroom.

“I’ve always wanted to run for JP,” Salinas said, referring to justice of the peace. “That’s one of the reasons. Get the experience and see if I really like it, first of all.”

Sullivan City may also serve as a launchpad for De Luna, who is running for Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Place 1 justice of the peace. He volunteered to work without pay.

For parents already struggling to make ends meet, Class C misdemeanor citations create financial pressure, De Luna said, adding that he wants to work with Sullivan City residents to avoid unnecessary fines.

“I’ve been an attorney for over 10 years,” said De Luna, 43 of Mission. “But also I know what it’s like when a ticket or something like that could truly affect your livelihood.”

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