Western Hidalgo County welcomed a new mayor on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, administered the oath of office to newly elected Sullivan City Mayor Alma D. Salinas during a City Council meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
“I want to thank the community of Sullivan City for believing in me, for trusting in me,” Alma Salinas said. “And for giving me the opportunity — or the inheritance — of being mayor here in Sullivan City.”
Alma Salinas is the director of Library Services and Instructional Resources at the La Joya Independent School District. Both her husband, La Joya school board President Oscar “Coach” Salinas, and her brother, Gabriel Salinas, also served on the Sullivan City Council.
When her son was a toddler, family and friends encouraged Alma Salinas to run for City Council. She decided to focus on her son and career instead.
Nearly 20 years later, with her son in college, Alma Salinas dusted off her dreams of public service.
She campaigned with City Councilman Rene “Cuate” Peña and Ramon Moreno, a teacher at Dr. Javier Saenz Middle School.
The campaign, though, lasted just a few weeks. Mayor Leo Garcia and City Councilwoman Sylvia Castillo decided not to run for re-election.
Sullivan City canceled the election and declared Alma Salinas, Peña and Moreno the winning candidates.
“I want to wish the new mayor, the new commission, the best of luck,” Castillo said. “May God guide you every step of the way.”
Garcia, who started to skip City Council meetings after a special election in November 2020, didn’t attend the swearing-in ceremony.
His absence, however, barely registered on Tuesday afternoon, when about 150 people packed Mi Fiesta Ballroom to wish Alma Salinas well.
The crowd included La Joya school board Trustee Alex Cantu, La Joya school board Trustee Nereyda Cantu, La Joya school board Trustee Espie Ochoa, La Joya school board Trustee Alda T. Benavides and Superintendent Gisela Saenz.
Peñitas City Councilman Alex Guajardo, Peñitas City Councilman J.R. Flores, Peñitas Chief of Staff Andy Morales and La Joya City Councilman Roger Hernandez also attended the swearing-in ceremony, along with Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz, the general manager of the Agua Special Utility District; Hidalgo County Court-at-Law #10 Judge Armando Marroquin, who served as city attorney in Peñitas and Sullivan City before he became a judge; and Norma Ramirez, the chairwoman of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party.
Peñitas Mayor Rodrigo “Rigo” Lopez and La Joya Mayor Isidro Casanova briefly addressed the standing-room-only crowd, which lined the ballroom walls.
“I think that Sullivan City is very lucky to have you as the next mayor of the city,” Casanova said, adding later: “Again, congratulations Alma. I’ve known you for a lot of years — and Oscar. I’m so proud of you and your family for doing a great job. And we just wish you the best of luck.”