EDINBURG — A council member here will take his chances and run against the current mayor for the opportunity to lead the city.
Council member Richard Molina announced his intent to run against Mayor Richard H. Garcia on Tuesday morning after filing paperwork with Edinburg City Secretary Myra Garza. He will act as his own campaign treasurer.
Molina, who has recently been at odds with a tight-knit majority on the council that includes Garcia, said the city needs change and assured that his plans to run for mayor have been long-coming.
“I’ve always aspired to run for mayor,” he said Thursday. “It’s not just something that I thought of one day.”
Molina, who used to be a police officer for the city, said he began thinking about it when he worked security at the council meetings, where he learned to understand the decision-making process and the effects it had on the community. But when he told others of his plan to run for mayor, Molina was advised to start as a council member instead because of his lack of experience in public office.
But soon after being elected in 2013, he began to notice “things weren’t as they seemed,” he said.
“I was an advocate for our current mayor when I was first brand new and I first came in,” Molina said. “As it started to unfold over these last four years, I saw a lot of mismanagement of funds. I saw a lot of things that were going on.”
Garcia did not respond to a request for comment as of press deadline.
Those issues, coupled with what Molina said are unaddressed needs within the community and a lack of transparency, propelled him to seek higher office where he hopes to shake things up.
“Number one, I believe we have a system that is broke. The position of mayor — not our current mayor but the position of mayor — that we have right now oversees both of our biggest accounts,” he said, referring to the city’s budget and that of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. “That’s too much power for one position.”
Garcia has been at the helm of the EEDC serving as president for over 14 years, Molina added.
“That is too long,” he said. “You have to put people in there that specialize in business, that know about development. That also (offers) people opportunities to give other ideas. The position of mayor doesn’t mean you have all of the ideas. That comes from the constituents.”
Molina also promised to push for a limit of two terms for all city elected officials and to focus on the needs of small business owners.
“It seems like other priorities that have come up are $35 million apartments — going and giving out money to developers without any reason,” Molina said, referring to economic incentives given to a development in north Edinburg known as La Sienna.
The council member asked residents to see through the current administration’s rhetoric.
“It’s not about flying high, because I can tell you the city of Edinburg is not flying high right now,” he said, referencing the theme for this year’s state of the city address. “Drive through the east side of Edinburg. Drive through parts of the west side of Edinburg. You will see things that people have brought to my attention. Yards that are not cut within some of our parks. We have restrooms, old, out-dated facilities that we have to work on.”
Molina knows he’s taken a risk in challenging Garcia, who is seeking his fourth term as mayor, in a race that already has one other challenger, Gina M. Alamia. Incumbents usually hold an upper hand when running to keep their own seats.
“I’m not the favorite in winning the election. As a matter of fact, the current mayor has made comments that I don’t stand a chance because of the fact that I don’t have wealthy people on my team,” he said. “But I know that there’s a lot more people out there that work hard every day… and there’s more of those than wealthy people. The reason I’ve decided to run for mayor is for those people.”