As elections lie around the corner, individuals across Hidalgo County rise to the occasion to dip their toes in public service. Beto Garza, current Peñitas City Manager, announced Thursday that he is ready to serve the county by running against Everardo Villarreal for Precinct 3 Commissioner this coming March.
With his campaign, Garza said he is offering a voice to the citizens of Precinct 3, ‘the average person out there.’
“I understand what it is to work hard. I understand what it is to get up every day and go to work and serve the people,” he said. “Because that’s what I’ve done all my life for the community.”
Born and raised in Mission, Garza followed in his family’s footsteps in demonstrating transformative leadership. After graduating from Mission High School in 1994, the Hidalgo County Head Start Program hired him, where he worked for five years before devoting over 20 years of service to the Hidalgo County Planning Department for Precinct 3.
“I worked for Commissioner Joe Flores all those years, and I knew Mayor Beto Salinas and former County Commissioner Juan Rosel, County Judge Ramon Garcia,” said Garza. “They inspired me. I saw how they worked with the public. They treated everybody fair…I want to give back to the community what they offered.”
The current Peñitas City Manager is hopeful to focus on the rural western parts of Hidalgo County.
“I think we need to focus on the growth of Sullivan City, La Joya, Peñitas, Palmhurst, Palmview, and of course, Mission, Granjeno, Alton,” he said, wanting to create an impactful economy. “All these areas need to be treated fair, so we can all grow together as a community, not just certain cities.”
If elected as Commissioner for Pct. 3, Garza seeks to help rural areas achieve economic expansion, advocate for lower citizen tax rates, create youth-based outreach services, expand the County EMS (Emergency Management Services), and provide social services in addition to the Hidalgo County’s Community Service Agency.
“I want to give them another point of view, another voice,” said Garza. “A different option for a better tomorrow in Hidalgo County’s Pct. 3.”
Garza seeks to tackle an ongoing issue with Agua SUD, where some residents on the west side of the county have difficulties with receiving their water.
He also witnesses the struggle of cities relying on tax-payer monies to maintain city-based EMS, which he believes the county should provide.
In addition to the Hidalgo County’s Community Service Agency, he hopes to attain social services for the Pct. 3 community.
“I know the county has a CSA (Community Service agency) program…but sometimes people need assistance in what CSA does not provide,” he said.
Garza also seeks to have a Hidalgo County Sherrif’s Office Substation to minimize issues with transporting prisoners to the county jail.
“These smaller cities in the western Hidalgo County will waste an hour and a half to two hours to transport their prisoners all the way to the county jail,” he said.
A resource Garza hopes to implement is creating recreational centers for the youth.
“The children in these areas need some kind of recreational facilities,” he said, inspired by Pct. 2’s unifying recreational center built in. “Even if it’s one center or facility where everyone can use it…I think we’ve got to do more of that.”
Despite the growing population and a growing economy going hand in hand, Garza believes that rural land commonly used for building subdivisions should preserve the natural land.
“I feel that the county should cut back a little bit,” he said, before continuing.
“I want to look into it and see if I can create a nature park. Kind of a recreational area where people can go camping,” he said. “We live in a beautiful area, and we’ve got to preserve some of these areas.”
This candidate feels strongly about voter accessibility and limited polling sites, where since October 2022, Peñitas residents must rely on surrounding municipalities to vote for upcoming elections due to the sites’ non-ADA compliance.
Garza states the Peñitas building does follow guidelines.
“We had it inspected to where we can hold elections. We just recently had the city election here,” he said.
In his eyes, this selective polling brings unfair treatment to citizens. With this, he believes the issue may be politically motivated by his opponent due to polarizing viewpoints.
“No other areas that I know of here in Hidalgo County [include where] the county removes a polling site from a city,” he said, wanting to create equal opportunities for voters. “If you can do it to Peñitas, you can do it to Alton, you can do it to Granjeno, you can do it to everybody.”
Countering this opinion on Villarreal, Garza vows to create transparent leadership by opening himself to all approaches from constituents and keeping his primary focus on the Precinct.
“That’s one of the main reasons why I’m running against this gentleman. He likes to get involved with school board elections, and city elections, and tries to take over the majority so he can run the whole show,” he said. “As County Commissioner…he should focus on the Precinct 3 constituents and focus on what he should do for them.”