Edcouch interim city manager guilty of felony running for board of aldermen

EDCOUCH — The interim city manager here, who pleaded guilty to tampering with a government record two years ago, wants to oust one of his bosses from the board of aldermen on Tuesday.

Interim City Manager Eddy Gonzalez, 68, said he filed to run against Alderman Rene Flores, 34, because a core group of supporters in the city feel he has the best chance of prevailing against Flores, the “most popular” candidate on the opposing slate — United for the Community.

“Some people (have said), ‘Oh, very interesting, how can he be a city manager” and run for office, Gonzalez said from city hall, later adding: “The law says that I can do it, I’m doing it. If the law says I couldn’t, then I wouldn’t, or I would have resigned as city manager.”

In 2016, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to breaking the law.

A Hidalgo County grand jury indicted Gonzalez, a then-alderman, that year on three counts connected to a trash service bid proposal, accusing him of backdating Quality Waste Management’s proposal paperwork by a month, so it would meet the city’s set deadline and qualify to provide trash pickup in Edcouch.

He pleaded guilty to tampering with a governmental record, a state jail felony, and was sentenced to two years of probation. The two misuse of official information counts were dismissed as part of a plea deal, which also barred him from seeking office until June 2018.

Gonzalez, however, said he pleaded guilty to “protect my little town” from being in the limelight and losing out on business prospects.

“I paid a price that I didn’t owe,” he said. “Whether you want to believe me or not, that’s okay, but I know,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez heading city hall is a concern for Flores.

“God knows what he could do to manipulate certain things (as interim city manager) for his own benefit,” Flores said. “I mean, you’re not going to go bid rig just to bid rig, you’re up to something.”

The two agree on one thing: the city has progressed financially, they said.

If re-elected, Flores wants to focus on fixing the “external part,” such as potholes and the lack of cleanliness throughout Edcouch, he said. Gonzalez desires to see the city’s wastewater treatment plant and a walking trail projects through as an alderman.

“I love my city — that’s what drives me,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, running alongside Ruth Ruiz and current Alderwoman Esmeralda Cabrera, both who work as secretaries, said he worries “the little bit that we have bettered” the city could be “destroyed” by the opposing slate.

Flores disagreed, saying the city has not progressed enough, pointing to lack of economic development, pothole-ridden streets and an animal control problem, calling on voters to back him and slate mates Lorenzo “Lencho” Cabrera and Joel Segura to “get things done.”

Flores has found himself on the six-member board’s minority.

“I really think that if I get re-elected, and the people that I’m running with get elected, there’s going to be a drastic change,” Flores said, adding that at times items he believes should be placed on meeting agendas aren’t scheduled for a vote.

The two have made their final pitches to registered voters living in Edcouch.

During the past few weeks, candidates stationed tents at two spots near the city’s fire station, the sole early voting polling location, where 1,351 people voted early.

“I don’t see me losing, but you never know,” Gonzalez said, noting he will resign as interim city manager, if elected.

Election Day is Tuesday.