Six people from two different slates will compete for three spots on the Palmview City Commission.
The slates in the running are “Progress for Palmview” and “A New Palmview.” The former is made up of current commissioners Javier Ramirez, Joel Garcia and Linda Sarabia, who are both seeking a second term after successfully running under the same slate together during the 2016 city commission election.
“A New Palmview” meanwhile is La Joya ISD employees Adrian Canales, Alexandra Flores and Guadalupe Alonzo “Wally” Barrera Jr.
All six members are running for Places 1, 3 and 5 in the upcoming November election.
Palmview will also be holding a special election for Place 4 due to a vacancy created by current commissioner Anthony Uresti who is dropping out to run for a spot on the La Joya school board. As the deadline to file for the November election was Thursday evening after press time, the Progress Times could not receive all the candidate applications for that election.
Progress for Palmview
When city commissioners Javier Ramirez, Joel Garcia and Linda Sarabia were elected to their current positions four years ago, they knew they had a lot of work to do.
“The city was mismanaged. There was no accountability, no policies, the city was in bad shape,” Garcia said.
Since they were elected, the commissioners set up new policies and procedures, raised the property tax rate to pay for outstanding debt the city was in, hired new department heads and worked with the Agua Special Utility District on a multi-million wastewater project that broke ground in 2018.
To promote transparency, commissioners also started facilitating town halls for residents to voice their concerns to them and have also made agenda packets of their commission meetings available on their website.
“[Palmview] is not the best right now but it’s getting there and the people recognize that,” Garcia said. “We are seeing a lot of light at the end of the tunnel.”
That work they have completed over the last four years is why the three commissioners are running for re-election, Javier Ramirez said.
“We have some unfinished business. I’ve said this before but it’s my turn to give back to the community,” Ramirez said. “When we came [were elected] in 2016, we found that our city was in disarray and have worked diligently to correct that. It would be a disservice to my community if I stepped down and said ‘I’m through,’ because I’m not. Our residents deserve people like us who have put in a lot of time and effort into bringing the city back to where it is today. There’s projects we need to complete, we want to see our economic development and quality of life thrive. I think we’re in a good position to bring in more businesses, create more jobs, and more revenue from more sales tax.”
Linda Sarabia, who serves as the city’s mayor pro-tem, agreed with her running mates on the work still needed in the city.
“We’ve had much progress but there’s still much to be done,” Sarabia said. “The first years were spent setting up the foundation for what a municipal government should by creating basic things such as policies and procedures and ordinances were not in place. “We started a lot of things. We recently got a grant for the library and expanded our youth services. There’s been a lot of progress but there’s even more work in progress. It’s our duty to see it through.”
As a commissioner, Sarabia said she and Garcia and Ramirez learned many lessons during their first term that they hope to utilize in their second term.
“The biggest misconception is you can go and start executing your plan to the city,” Sarabia said. “When we were first elected, one of the biggest challenges was realizing we could not hit the ground running because we found out there’s a lot of entities and moving parts involved that have jurisdiction over our city like the drainage and water utility district. It was a challenge early on, we started working anyway. There’s a lot of moving parts you need to know and regardless of political sides, we still have to humble ourselves and work with people you may sometimes not see eye to eye with to service the community.”
Currently, the city commission is in discussions to potentially lower the property tax rate and potentially create a complex to serve as its new city hall.
We’re delivering what we promised but we need more time,” Garcia said. “The city is still growing and we know there’s more things to come. We owe it to the citizens who elected us to fix the city.”
A NEW PALMVIEW
For the three members who make up the slate “A New Palmview,” the city is moving in the right direction. However, Adrian Canales, Alexandra Flores and Guadalupe Alonzo “Wally” Barrera Jr. believe they are the people needed to lead the city.
All three members are well known individuals in their community, Canales said.
“The people of Palmview know us; we work with their kids and know so many parents personally,” Canales said. “We’re dedicated to what we do and are always here to do things right and follow through on it. We’re not lawyers or politicians, we’re coaches who work for the school district and we want to research and surround ourselves with people who are knowledgeable with these issues to learn from them and ask for their opinion and advice to get to work.”
For Canales, an athletic coordinator for the La Joya school district, a spot on the city commission means a chance to do something.
“I got tired of just giving my opinions and feeling like I’m not being heard and decided to go for it and do something,” Canales said. “I’m sure the current commissioners are trying their best and working with what they have but there’s only so much they can do.”
Canales listed a variety of issues he says the city is facing which he attributes to Palmview’s relationship with the Agua Special Utility District.
As previously reported, Agua SUD began tearing up the streets to lay down sewer lines, leaving the city in charge of repaving the streets after the lines were installed.
Agua SUD also fired one of its contractors hired to complete the project after numerous delays.
Frustrated with the progress of the project, the city moved forward to creating its own lift station for south Palmview, leading to a lawsuit between both entities. Since then Palmview and Agua SUD dropped the lawsuits and settled their differences.
“But no one’s been held accountable for it, that’s a major problem,” Canales said. “It’s a lot of little things I see and hope to be a part of a change to resolve those matters since, to my understanding, we still haven’t had any development because of a lack of sewer.”
As a counselor for Lorenzo De Zavala Middle School, Alexandra Flores feels she has a duty to help people.
“We have seen all the things progressing in the city and have decided to continue that for the city,” Flores said.
Like Canales, she sees the relationship between the city and Agua SUD as a major issue and also wants to work to bring back the boys and girls club, and implement a 311 program in the city.
Flores is also the sister in law of former Palmview city Manager Ramon Segovia and she cited him as one of the people she hopes to surround herself with to gain advice and knowledge on being a commissioner.
Despite the issues she sees in the city, Flores praised the current commissioners.
“The current council is stepping up on what they’re doing but I believe the citizens have seen the work they’ve put in and have noticed some bad decisions that have been made that led us to a mess we’re in right now,” Flores said. “I don’t believe any council member or any board can 100 percent satisfy the needs of every single individual in the city and that’s understandable. Their intentions may have been good but look at where we are. It’s why we are people from Palmview, for Palmview to see growth and build a new Palmview together.”
Guadalupe “Wally” Alonzo Barrera Jr., a PE teacher at Jimmy Carter ECHS has been a lifelong resident of Palmview.
“I grew up here and have seen how the status of Palmview has fluctuated and parks have remained the same way they were when I was growing up,” Barrera Jr. said. “I believe I can bring something new to the table.”
He said he was motivated to run after seeing multiple constituents complain about the city’s unpaved roads and sewer and drainage system.
“There is always room for improvement and I believe generations are supposed to continuously bring in more innovative ideas to the city after constituents are given their chance to give their personal input on how they can better Palmview,” Barrera Jr. said. “All that ties together to serving a city. We want to send a message across that it’s time for a new Palmview and we are bringing to it what we are deserving of.”
With the election season starting in a few weeks, Barrera Jr. said he hopes for a clean race.
“There is a lot of negativity in politics in the Valley but if anything, I think we can help each other grow,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is not for anything personal, I feel I can bring something good to the table and help our constituents as best as I possibly can.”
The last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 5. Early voting will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 13, and end on Friday, Oct. 30. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.